MVP is a startup term that stands for Minimum Viable Product.
An MVP is the most basic and raw version of the product that can be shipped to clients. It is very common among technical startups and is used to test the waters and see what the initial public reaction to the product is.
Many of those technical startups evolved into household names. Companies such as Uber and Dropbox are among the big names that followed the MVP route on their way to becoming world-known companies.
The types of MVPs
Sometimes an MVP isn’t so much about the product but something much simpler such as a landing page with a lead magnet. The purpose of such MVPs is to get a feeling of how many people are interested in the potential product and to verify the main business idea.
Eric Ries, the author of the Lean Startup bestseller, has identified six different types of MVPs that startups can use to prove their idea:
- The functioning prototype is a very basic but working version of the product that potential clients can interact with.
- Landing page MVP is just a landing page made to see how many people would be willing to make the purchase by clicking on buttons or leaving their contact information.
- Video MVP creates no real product but a video demonstration that shows how the solution will work.
- The concierge MVP means manual servicing to one client who needs to be satisfied. It’s not scalable but is used to prove the business case.
- The Wizard of Oz MVP makes clients think they use the real product but it’s just a facade behind which everything’s done manually. For example, there is a web page that looks like an online bookstore website but everything on the backend is done by people with no automation.
- Crowdfunding MVPs are great because you get the ultimate idea validation - customers’ payments. Platforms such as Kickstarter allow startups to present their MVP and, if the product becomes popular, obtain substantial financial support upfront.
The benefits of an MVP model
The key benefit of the MVP is that it brings the solution to the client much faster than a traditional product development process would. A full product can take years to develop, whereas an MVP can be ready after a couple of months (sometimes weeks) of work.
Such a quick rollout allows for identifying advantages and pain points early in the game when the cost of changing something or redoing a feature from scratch is low.
Startups are usually short on resources and have limited time, as they are in a rush to be the first ones to roll out innovation on the market. That’s why the MVP model works best for them - they spend the least effort possible while getting the most invaluable customer feedback.
MVPs fit well with another popular concept - Agile development. The Agile process is all about innovation, constant learning, and improvement. It promotes shorter new product development cycles with more frequent releases.
Once the MVP is out, the startup collects feedback and makes decisions about the next iteration. If the test results are not so good and the clients don’t love the product, the company can easily pivot and reinvent its new product development process without substantial waste.
MVP product development strategy has several look-alikes and alternative options. Let’s look into some of them.
Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)
MVP is, by its nature, a raw product that only offers the bare minimum to the client. As a result, while it does function, it isn't necessarily something customers will rave about.
An MLP takes an extra step and makes the product not just bearable but actually lovable.
It might seem excessive to the MVP adopters, but there is a known issue that some clients choose to go with an alternative if the first edition appears too basic. They appreciate that later, more feature rich versions are coming in the future but have no time or desire to wait and see how it turns out. An MLP solves that issue.
Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)
An MMP is a combination of an MVP and an MLP. It implies that founders have a good understanding of their target audience and how the product is solving their problems. An MMP includes a set of features that can be properly marketed and advertised.
Minimum Catchy Offer
Minimum Catchy Offer or an MCO is not necessarily a product that users can interact with but can be a catchy phrase, something that doesn’t exist yet but manages to catch our attention.
For example, an ad or website might describe an app that gives you access to over 1000 local restaurant delivery services by simply clicking 2 buttons. This piques users curiosity even though there is not yet any work that’s been done towards making this app real.
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