Marketing Consultant, Speaker, Author, Content Manager at Fireart Studio
Why do so many startups fail? Why do we hear the concept of the MVP so often? What is it, and is it beneficial? You might think you know the answers to all of these questions. But do you really? Here we talk about all this and even more. I’m happy to welcome product creators and curious developers into this learning journey. So, let’s start with defining the MVP (minimum viable product), one of the most overused and misunderstood concepts in the modern web. In this article, you can learn how an MVP can kickstart your startup.
First of all, a minimum viable product is not a product, it’s a process. It’s not something you have done once. An MVP is a process of testing your assumptions, continuous development, lasting market investigation, and adjusting the product for what’s found out during the tests with real users.
It’s not a raw product released to the market a bit earlier than it had to. It’s not a product with half of the features. An MVP constitutes the core of your ideas. It’s the area of exploration and experimentation with these ideas, the process of defining which one is good or wrong.
First, the team comes up with a product idea. Next, they implement key features into an MVP as a proof of concept. They discuss what features to include or exclude. Then, they tune an MVP over and over again. The team tests the smallest and the biggest ideas, does endless experiments, rejects/proves assumptions, and employs the results of successful experiments in further development.
Why do startups fail? According to CB Insights, the number one reason is the mismatch of the product’s mission and the market demand. Most of the investigated startups that failed spent from several months to a few years on building the product that appeared to be useless or beyond the market demand, in other words.
They pursued fancy missions and imaginative goals based solely on the creator’s vision, without relying on data and MVP tests with target users. Once again, why is an MVP so beneficial for a business? There are a few answers here.
The MVP approach helps you concentrate on the most vital for the product - its core functionality. There are no distractions related to the decorative design or extra-features. You focus only on the key-value and grow your product progressively, step by step, inch by inch. Your decisions on the core functions are based not only on your own experience and assumptions but also on the results of the product tests with a real audience. They decide what should be in the product, not you. It’s a definitive factor for startup success.
After a range of tests and experiments starting from the core features to the smallest experimentations, you start seeing. You gain a clearer vision than before. It is another significant reason for starting with an MVP. There is no need to guess how a certain feature will work or whether the user will like it or not. You will know the precise answer and clearly understand the whys.
One of the most valued parts of your target audience is early adopters, those who are first to try out the product and spread the priceless feedback about it. An MVP allows building relationships with your target audience (with early adopters, first of all) even before the full-fledged product is released to the market.
You might guess that it’s a good feature and it will be useful for customers. After several months of no sales and low ROI, you can start realizing that, probably, it has been the wrong decision. We’ll not say that it’s too late, no. It’s never late to stop, rethink your approach, and take a different direction. However, we must admit that a significant amount of money and time is spent in vain.
Consider a different scenario. You have an MVP, and you think that its key features are cool and will be loved by customers. However, before you invest in further development, you introduce an MVP to a target audience and run a range of tests with real people. You will make the same conclusions as in a previous scenario, but months of work and costs will be saved and you can proceed with the development quicker.
An MVP allows you to avoid expensive bug fixes and launch the product much faster. After releasing the first version of the product, you can easily test new hypotheses and desired features with the same people and quickly collect priceless feedback. And you know what? They will share it with you more willingly, as your brand has already built relationships with these people.
A minimum viable product gives you more space for constant updates, adjustments, and experimentations. It creates conditions for higher flexibility and keeping abreast of the actual user demands. Unlike a traditional product approach, the path of MVP development gives you more freedom to create a product that will be appreciated by people and lead the market competition.
It’s crucial to understand that all great products have been built gradually. Starting small, they grew up into big brands with world-known names. Instagram, Snapchat, Spotify, Airbnb, Zappos, Dropbox, and dozens of others - all these companies started with an MVP. It allowed them to test new features and build their products over time with minimal risks.
We say an MVP can bring many benefits for a business. However if you haven’t yet decided to start with it, let’s briefly outline its pros and whys. It will give you a more comprehensive vision and insights for evaluation and decision-making.
What is an MVP? First of all, it’s a process of continuous development, experimenting, and testing features with real people in the real market.
Why start with an MVP? Because it helps you focus on the core functionality, gives you the clarity of vision, allows you to build early relationships with customers, and better understand them. Moreover, it empowers you to launch the product faster, provides more space for creativity and experimentations.
Finally, an MVP allows you to save time and money and develop your product with minimal risks. Hopefully, these insights will help you build the next big thing starting with an MVP.
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