The term "Minimal Viable Product" (MVP) has been thrown around so much that it has almost become a cliché. Yet, many entrepreneurs still misunderstand its true purpose. They approach MVPs with a huge list of features, requirements, and a six-month roadmap pre-launch, leaving little room for potential users' feedback. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Instead of treating an MVP as a scaled-down version of the final product, consider it as a test of a hypothesis. When you don't have product-market fit, all you're working with are assumptions. The goal of an MVP is to validate these assumptions as quickly as possible, and you don't need six months to do it. Here's a step-by-step approach to launching an MVP the right way.
1. Define the Hypothesis
State what you think needs to be validated. For instance: "Young professionals in urban areas will pay for a service that delivers gourmet lunches to their workplace."
2. Identify the Core Problem
What is the main problem your product or service is trying to solve? "Young professionals don't have time to prepare gourmet lunches and are looking for convenient, healthy options."
3. Identify Target Audience
Define the user personas you believe will benefit most from your solution. "Sarah, a 28-year-old financial analyst working in New York."
4. Determine the MVP Type
MVPs can take various forms, not just a scaled-down version of the product. Some examples include:
Explainer Video: A video that explains the product idea to gauge interest, as used by Dropbox. Landing Page: A webpage describing the product with a call-to-action, used by Airbnb and Buffer. Wizard of Oz MVP: Offer the service manually behind the scenes, making it appear automated to users, as used by Zappos. Concierge MVP: Manually deliver the service to users, as used by Groupon. Email Campaign: An outbound email campaign discussing the product's benefits to gauge interest, as used by Product Hunt.
5. Design the MVP
Depending on the type of MVP chosen, design it to be as simple as possible while still being able to test the hypothesis. Use tools that allow for rapid prototyping and no-code tools.
6. Launch the MVP
This is the hardest and most important stage, where every entrepreneur feels resistance creeping in. You're launching your project into the world, and it's not as polished as you imagine it to be. But you need to know what your audience thinks of it before spending a year working on it.
If it's an email campaign, craft a compelling message and send it to a curated list. If it's a landing page, promote it through social media or targeted ads. If it's a video, post it in relevant subreddits.
The purpose of an MVP is not to launch a feature-limited version of your final product but to test a hypothesis and validate your assumptions as quickly as possible. By following this step-by-step approach, you can launch an MVP that truly serves its purpose, allowing you to iterate and refine your product based on real user feedback. So, just launch and learn from the process.