How to Make a Minimum Viable Product

Minimum Viable Product | 0 comments | by Erin Quilliam

If you have any interest in startup management, lean methodology or app development you might have already heard about the Minimum Viable Product and what it is.

A Minimum Viable Product, also known as an MVP, is a method of developing and testing your business idea with the goal of gathering market-validated learning as quickly as possible. 

The MVP is itself an experiment, but it can also be a working product. In the latter case, the product is minimised to only focus on the core features that solve a problem for customers and provides your unique value proposition. In many cases, this product is an app.

This method of product management means you can develop a product or launch a new business quickly and cost-effectively. In fact, you could go from a conceptual idea to launching to market in as little as eight weeks.

Why Should You Build Your Own Minimum Viable Product?

You should build an MVP if you have any idea that you want to develop and deploy. Whether it is a new business venture or a new product for your current business.

The aim of an MVP is to bring the idea to life quickly at a reduced cost and risk. 

The MVP should provide value for your consumer. In doing so, it brings immediate value to you by developing your understanding of what the market wants, how it should be delivered, what they will pay for it. You will even learn granular details such as what features they like or dislike, when they use your service, and how they feel it can be improved.

That is one of the key benefits of developing an MVP.

The ability to learn from the market at the earliest opportunity and to understand how to create a successful business is the key goal and advantage of an MVP. Whereas many other methods of testing, such as prototyping, only provide limited feedback – and never from the real-life market.

Secondly, developing an MVP reduces the risk associated with testing new ideas by reducing the cost and development time. This reduced time allows you to access the market much sooner, which in many cases, will help you to seize sudden opportunities. By following the process outlined below, the risk is further reduced as you validate your idea several times before beginning development. Therefore you never invest in following an idea to completion unless you have good reason to believe in its success.

Title image: How You Can Develop Your Own Minimum Viable ProductHow You Can Develop Your Own Minimum Viable Product

Developing an MVP is a process, separated into different phases of testing or development. This process is sometimes known as the MVP Mountain.

I discussed this process recently at the Lead Gen Academy. If you would like to access my slide deck from this talk, you can download it for free here.

The mountain shows you the upward progress you will take, climbing the mountain to reach complete validation. There are six checkpoints along this journey. 

  1. The Sniff Test
  2. Competitor Analysis
  3. Customer Interviews
  4. Basic Pitch Experiment
  5. Complex Pitch Experiment
  6. MVP

An Image showing the process of the MVP Mountain

The Sniff Test

This first step is pretty informal. It is your reality check. Without any research or googling, take the time to dwell on your idea. It’s important not to cloud your judgement with analysis or comparisons at this point. Use your instinct and rate your idea. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know if your idea is good or not, and if it’s worth pursuing.

Competitor Analysis

Now you can let yourself start looking at what other people are doing. You need to identify if you have any competition and if they are blocking your progress. It’s also important for you to understand what other businesses are doing in order for you to understand where there could be a gap in the market, or how you can make your idea unique.

Customer Interviews

Market research is key to the success of any new idea. You need to identify if there is a need within the market. Solving a real problem is the key to creating value, with which comes interest and sales. Reach out to your existing or potential customers and talk to them about what their pain points are, and the sorts of solutions they would like to see. In fact, ask them anything pertinent. Even a slightly off-centre or vague question could yield a highly insightful comment. What you need to do here is gather as much information as you can, as you can always pick out answers and comments later.

Basic Pitch Experiment

This is where you test if people are interested in your product. The simplest way of doing this is by asking for their email address in return for more information on the product or business. If they are happy to share their details, then they are attracted to your product. This gives you some validation for your idea and guidance on if it is strong enough to continue to the next stages or not.

Complex Pitch Experiment

This is taking your previous experiments, and making them more sophisticated. You are not looking for open and broad responses of interest now. At this point, you begin validating other areas of your business, usually, the pricing model.

For example, you can set up a landing page to “sell” your product. You still ask visitors to enter their details in order to find out more, or to pre-order, but you now list the price of the product. If the product is attractive and the price is right, people will continue to enter their details as before. If people seem to lose interest, it will be because the price and product do not align. 

Therefore you continue to grow your audience by collecting emails in addition to validating your pricing structure.

You can see this phase in action frequently online. One such example is the website for Intelligent.X, the world’s first AI beer.

Building the Minimum Viable Product

Now you have arrived at the final checkpoint on the mountain, and it is time to build your MVP and validate your idea in its entirety.

Depending on the response to your MVP, you will have to decide if you should persevere or pivot. However, if you have climbed the mountain thus far, you should have gathered enough feedback and grown your audience enough that you are not blindly releasing a business to the world. You would have a warm audience, and a product people are interested in. This alongside the minimised development time and cost means that you would have minimised the risks associated with innovating.

Developing the MVP will vary according to what you plan to make, and why. However, they are commonly created as a digital application. The app will have a limited number of screens, elements and features, in order to reduce the development time and cost. This also ensures that all focus is on the unique value proposition and the core features that solve your customer’s problem and provide value for them.

Title Image: All Great Journeys Begin With a Single StepAll Great Journeys Begin With a Single Step

Climbing the mountain is the key to planning and creating a successful MVP. However, like climbing a real mountain, there is some risk you may stumble or face setbacks. 

The beauty of this process is that the six stages are six checkpoints as you climb. Much like a real journey, you can take alternative paths should there be any problems. 

If you fail or falter while climbing the MVP mountain, you just return to the previous checkpoint and try again.

The only path to certain failure is never making an attempt to succeed.

The mountain can be climbed, you just have to focus on taking step after step, walking through the process until eventually, you reach the top.

As with any accomplishment in life, it takes some time and dedication to reach the reward.

However, climbing any mountain can be daunting. This is why we have created a new MVP Mountain service. 

This service is designed to give you advice and assistance learned over years of helping develop digital products and businesses, and launching startups.

We’ll provide expert consultancy and guide you through the process of the MVP mountain until you have validated your idea and are ready to build your own Minimum Viable Product. 

If you are already at the stage where you want to develop your own MVP, book a discovery session today. It is a free exploratory session with us for you to define and refine your ideas, and understand how it will be visualised as a working product. 

You can book a session online here. As an exclusive bonus, you’ll receive our ebook “The Magic of the MVP Method” and recommended learning materials for free.

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