“Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine.” – Lean Startup
2015 was the year of the startup. Especially in places like Utah County where wide-eyed college kids are willing to work in tiny offices making cold calls to pay their bills. Startups have a unique recipe; they are made up of innovation, perseverance, risk, generous funding from investors, and maybe just a pinch of luck. And all that doesn’t even produce a finished product. Startups, for the most part, don’t turn a profit overnight. In fact, it can take months, even years, before a startup begins making any sort of revenue from its product. Before there can be rewards, there must be risk. Before there can be a profitable product, there must be an MVP.
An MVP – minimum viable product – is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk. It is the limbo between an unfinished, do-nothing prototype and a go-go gadget universal remote. It likely won’t make all your clients’ dreams come true, but it won’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight either. An MVP is just the core features, the basic necessities, that allow the product to be deployed. Let me be clear, an MVP is not a lemon. The goal is not to trick your customers into buying an unfinished product. The MVP is a strategy meant to help you avoid building a finished product that no one wants – a test run to help you better understand customer demand. It seeks to maximize the information learned about customers per dollar spent. It is deployed to those that are likely to be more forgiving, those who are willing to provide feedback, and those with the vision to see a finished product from the prototype.
Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and pioneer of Lean Startup methodology, first described the term ‘minimum viable product’ as: “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” The fifth principle of Ries’s methodology is Build-Measure-Learn and it claims that “the fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.” The minimum viable product is the moment that determines whether you pivot or persevere because it is how you measure customer response.
A minimum viable product is just as key to startup success as funding or perseverance. It really is the most valuable player in the startup game. (It’s so cliche, I had to). It’s important to come up with a low-risk product so that you can obtain feedback about your ideas before you spend all the time and money making a completed one. This could mean you write rough code with basic functionality and a suboptimal design interface, or maybe you buy cheaper materials and forgo the fancy logos for now. There is an excellent article on TechCrunch that talks about, in detail, how to build an MVP with regards to web and software development.
Reaching an MVP in software or web app development is something that Lift Media specializes in. We get the ball rolling towards your minimum viable product so you can then take your startup to the next level. We helped our parent company, Room Choice, reach their MVP and now they have 4,000 clients using their software with another 4,000 in the on-boarding process. They expect their numbers to double in the coming months. Consider what an MVP could do for your startup.