I met with an entrepreneur this week with a well thought out idea for a new business. She had done a lot of homework. She knew her market, had lined up friends and family to invest, had talked to customers, and had a solid vision of her offering.
Looking for help on how to get the product built, she pulled out a huge roll of newsprint with her detailed product design. It was an impressive document – and to build it as laid out would be a huge, expensive undertaking.
I didn’t spend much time looking at the document. Instead, I asked her what were the key features to test the idea and introduced her to the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
The ‘MVP’ gets talked about a lot here at ATDC and is one of the most important strategies for startups. Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, defines the minimum viable product as “just those features (and no more) that allows you to ship a product that resonates with early adopters”.
Following this approach gets your product in users hands faster and minimizes time wasted on features no one cares about. It’s subjective, not scientific. It’s an iterative process based on customer feedback that allows you to test your idea and pivot to hone in on a solution customers will adopt and pay for.
Sometimes the MVP isn’t even a functioning product. It might be a demo, a presentation, or screenshots. Before I helped my wife build her ecommerce store, we tested keywords on Google Adwords to see if the products would generate interest. When we decided to move ahead we did so with a limited number of products across various categories until we find out what sells.
For more on MVP, sign up for ATDC’s Customer Discovery program and see Eric Reis’ presentation here.