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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Define Your Startup MVP and Save Time and Moneyby@fayanastasia
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26,806 reads

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Define Your Startup MVP and Save Time and Money

by Anastasia FaizulenovaApril 21st, 2024
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To define your MVP, you must envision the first instance of your product and find a working method on how to showcase its best possible features in a simple and brief way. Let’s take a look at the 7-step guide on how you can turn your product idea into a successful startup and to appeal to the early adopters: Step 1. Define the problem you want to solve. Decide whether it is worth solving and if there are existing products on the market that can already solve this exact problem successfully.  Step 2. Analyze your users by applying different tactics like surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. Step 3. Define what your full product should look like. Collect feedback from your team and first adopters.  Step 4. Create a list of top priority features that your product must have in order to carry out its basic functionalities.  Step 5. Generate, combine and sort ideas on the viability of your product – how it works, what its features are, and how you are planning to scale the product in the future. Create an MVP draft.  Step 6. Define an MVP by finding your best user stories. Use existing tools to create an MVP before you start pouring investments into developing your own in-house software.  Step 7. Continue to generate feedback and innovate your MVP.
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Many of you probably know that one of the most crucial steps in running a successful startup company is to define the right minimum viable product, simply known as MVP. Developing an MVP even after conducting initial market tests can be challenging, as the version of your product is essentially an unvalidated hypothesis. It's common for developers to waste time and resources on MVPs that are not well-defined. This guide will help you identify the core features of your product, enabling you to avoid wasting time and money.

To define your MVP, you must envision the first instance of your product and find a working method on how to showcase its best possible features in a simple and brief way. Let’s take a look at the 7-step guide on how you can turn your product idea into a successful startup and appeal to early adopters.

How to Find Your MVP

MVP is not a beta version of your product designed to determine bugs. It is also not an idea written down on a piece of paper or presented in a couple of slides. Your MVP is intended to test market demand assumptions, refine the product vision, and help you choose where to focus future development efforts.


MVPs are therefore a very effective strategy for determining your product-market fit. So, what should be your first few moves when turning your idea into a viable product?

1. Your Idea: The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. What is the ground idea of your perfect product, and what is your reality at the moment? At this stage, your priority is to analyze the problem that you are trying to solve.


Describe the size of your problem, and provide all the necessary statistics and data – how does this problem impact your user? How does it impact your product idea? Are there any existing products that can successfully solve the same type of problem? Collect as much evidence as possible – it can help you massively in achieving success. Do not forget to keep it well-structured.


For instance, let’s take a look at Uber. In the past, getting a taxi could be rather annoying when you would have to wait at a curb in an attempt to catch a car. Uber appealed to those who wanted the ability to rapidly call a cab by simply pulling out their smartphone, making a couple of clicks in a user-friendly app, and therefore, solving the initial problem and pain point completely.

2. Understand Your Users

During this stage, you need to analyze the current state of the market, identify your target audience, and study your competitors. This will help you understand how your product can stand out among others and what features are important to your product users.


Here, your product team must ensure they clearly know who their users are. Identify each class (or type) of the user, their needs, wants, pain points, expectations, experience, and other metrics you find useful in your case. The final step of your research should be to draft the so-called success criteria – the standard to judge whether an objective has been achieved – for each type of product user.


Once you have identified your users, it’s time to learn if you can actually understand them. Collect information about their behavior, their profiles, and habits – of course, by complying with the data collection laws in your country. Get as much knowledge and publicly accessible insights into who your users are. You can also carry out a few interviews, and create surveys or focus groups to further deepen your research.

3. What Is Your Big Picture Product?

What would your product look like if you had all the possible resources, time, and investment? What is the ideal state of your product? It is recommended that you list down all the valid ideas collected from your team that could help your startup reach its final stage of development. Moreover, you can also collect feedback from your users.


To help you think big, you can answer the following questions:

  • What major issue are you aiming to address?
  • What ambitions do you have for your product?
  • Which user requirements are you trying to meet?
  • What challenges faced by users are you aiming to overcome?
  • What tasks require improvement, efficiency, or innovation that your product will accomplish?

4. What Is Your Minimum Product?

Now that you have got an idea regarding your ideal product, your next step is to define what would be enough for your product to work with the least amount of resources, time, and investment. Identify your best interactions with the users and gather a list of top-priority features that would be able to provide just enough value.


The question you must answer before you move on to the next step is ‘What is the single thing that your product absolutely must do to fulfill its promises?’  For instance, if your goal is to create a trustworthy and efficient communication platform, you might say that your product must deliver seamless and secure communication between users without compromising privacy or data integrity.

5. What Is Your Viable Product?

Gather your team’s and users’ feedback – it’s time to generate ideas! It might take a couple of brainstorming sessions, but your end goal is to ensure you have captured a few high-potential thoughts. Here are several questions you might want to answer at this stage:


  • Do you have the necessary skills, expertise, time, resources, and funding?


  • Do you have sufficient knowledge and resources to deliver value solely to early adopters? Have you conducted thorough user research and identified potential early adopters?


  • Do you have mechanisms in place to gather user feedback and collect data on user interactions and contexts?


  • Can you handle product scalability? Can your MVP cope with the potential surge in user activity?


Once you have collected all the necessary data, it is time to review and combine your ideas in order to define your MVP draft, which should show the way your product solves the problems you indicated during the first few stages of research and with what features this result is reached.

6. Define Your MVP

Put together the results of the above steps and define your minimum viable product. Keep in mind that defining your MVP means that you already have your product vision on a much larger scale. Do not make the mistake of many beginner product managers who do not have a sufficient definition of what their ‘full product’ should be.


One way you can define your minimum viable product is by scanning the backlog of your ‘full product’ and highlighting the best features, which are expected to help make the product user happy, satisfied, and keep the user engaged. You can divide these features into sets and highlight the exact function this or that set plays in the product vision.


Now that you have your feature sets defined, find the subset that can provide the minimum viability. Carefully analyze each case of user stories – a description of a software system written from the perspective of an end-user or system user – in terms of cost, value, importance, and so on. Rank your user stories from top to least priority.


Your team must make their business judgment call and apply their product sense to see where the thin line between top and least priority cases is. Your top priority user story might be the exact MVP you’ve been searching for.


There is another important point to make here: until you have at least a couple of paying customers, it is never a good idea to pour money into developing your own unique software. Remember that the market is already full of existing tools you can use to define your MVP, like using a third-party API.

7. Innovate Your MVP

Obviously, your work does not stop here. It could take a few tries to define the right MVP, but it is worth the time and the effort. Your MVP must reflect what you build, why you build, for whom you build, and when you build. You have to continue your business journey with systematic feedback, new integrations, innovative features, and so on – while your MVP becomes the base, or the vessel, for your experiments.

Conclusion

Let’s summarize all the ideas pinpointed in the article so that you can start working on your MVP right away.


Step 1. Define the problem you want to solve. Decide whether it is worth solving and if there are existing products on the market that can already solve this exact problem successfully.


Step 2. Analyze your users by applying different tactics like surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.


Step 3. Define what your full product should look like. Collect feedback from your team and first adopters.


Step 4. Create a list of top-priority features that your product must have in order to carry out its basic functionalities.


Step 5. Generate, combine, and sort ideas on the viability of your product – how it works, what its features are, and how you are planning to scale the product in the future. Create an MVP draft.


Step 6. Define an MVP by finding your best user stories. Use existing tools to create an MVP before you start pouring investments into developing your own in-house software.


Step 7. Continue to generate feedback, and innovate your MVP.