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What Is an MVP and Why Do You Need One?

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What Is an MVP and Why Do You Need One?

We take a look at what designing a Minimum Viable Product is all about, and how it can help development teams in the long run.

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You have a great idea for a product that you are certain will bring tremendous value to those who purchase it. But you don’t know where to begin.

Does this process sound familiar? For many current and would be entrepreneurs, this dilemma is all too real. We have grand ideas that could disrupt an industry or even change the world but without a plan to get there they are nothing more than dreams.

This is where the idea of building an MVP was born. It answers the questions of where do you start and how do you know people really want what you have to offer?

In this post, you will learn what an MVP is and why you need one. Let’s start with a definition of what an MVP is and what it’s not.

What Is an MVP?

An MVP is the bare minimum set of essential features and functions required to be deployed and released to a group of early adopters.

The term MVP was popularized by Eric Ries and Steve Blank in the web application space. These two pioneers accelerated the lean startup movement which, by design, is centered around building an MVP and creating a feedback loop between creators and customers. Typically this MVP is a product such as an app or software. However, recently an MVP has come to include landing pages, customer surveys, and even social media campaigns that can validate the initial idea before actually creating the product.

With an MVP, you generally want to have 3-5 core features. This isn't a hard and fast rule though. Let's say you wanted to enter the accounting software business. Unfortunately, 3-5 features won't cut it. Fortunately for you, the market has already been proven, so in this case, an MVP wouldn't necessarily be a small piece of software.

At the end of the day, with any product/service, you need to be able to provide more value than your customer can currently find in existing products.

Why Do You Need an MVP?

You don’t need to launch your idea at full force with every bell and whistle you can imagine. If you go that route you will likely spin your wheels for too long and lose your position in the market or waste loads of time and money on something the market wasn’t ready for. To mitigate the substantial risk of losing tens of thousands of dollars and several years of your life on a project that may never work out, you can simply create an MVP that will help get your idea in front of potential customers in a matter of weeks and for 1/10th of the price.

Simply releasing a reduced version of your final product is not what makes an MVP so important — it’s about learning with the least amount of resources and effort. The ultimate goal is to minimize your risk while gaining insights and feedback from potential customers. An added benefit to this process is that with the prototype and the traction built around it you can use it to attract potential investors or successfully launch a crowdfunding campaign to build out your product with all the features you desire.

What Are Some Examples of Successful MVPs?

  • Dropbox started with a promo video on a landing page showcasing what its features would be.

  • Frustrated with not finding the shoes he wanted, the founder of Zappos set up a small e-commerce site using a WordPress theme and posted pictures and prices of shoes from local retailers.

  • Airbnb started with a small website with minimal features that offered air mattresses and breakfast at their loft to people for a cheaper price than a hotel.

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