The tech startup industry is growing at an immense pace as more and more users go online. With many new releases every day, the competition to make a digital product that conquers them all is fierce, and only the strongest ones survive. The vast majority never get funded and will never be heard of. How do you avoid this crash and burn?
The term MVP is everywhere now, and every startup founder is desperately trying to put one together. So what is an MVP? It's the Minimum Viable Product, the absolutely basic, launchable version of the product that has minimal yet essential features that define the value proposition. The MPV is launched to test market waters, rein in early adopters and achieve a product market fit. The MVP is then carefully observed to gain insights and feedback which are then fixed with new features.
Why does this approach work? To put it simply, it helps launch the product quickly and enables early user testing of the ideas to give insights that can be used in developing a full-fledged product that is market ready.
So here are a few lesser-discussed points to keep in mind when working on your MVP. It's not a guide on the many technical steps, (so do your research on how to technically build one separately) but instead talks of important considerations to help you succeed in moving to market.
Launch, and launch ASAP
The most difficult step first, launching the MVP. The whole idea of a minimum viable product hinges on its launch. No launch = no MVP anyway. A lot of times startups start to build their products but get so tangled up in the refinement that t becomes a whole task to launch it. Ask yourself this, do you remember Airbnb’s launch? Or that of Zerodha? No, right? It's because a launch is never the end, it's the starting of the journey and it's not that big a deal!
Things to consider when you want to launch -
1. Do I know my audience? This one should be simple to answer and it should always be “YESS”. Starting a product idea stems from a problem that someone faces, so essentially you know your target users when you start building your MVP.
2. Don't get too caught up with feature lists - Identify the problem you are trying to solve and try to solve it in the simplest possible manner. The simpler the solution, the simpler the MVP and in turn easier to build and develop. Going off track from your original thought (which I suggest you write it down somewhere prominent) is easy. It's important to pull yourself back to the original problem statement and work on solving it rather than pulling in too many ideas which delay the launch and mess with the clarity of the product. Stay centered entred on your base idea.
3. Set a limit on your Specs - Your spec is a list of everything that needs to be built before the launch of the MVP. Set a launch date and accordingly adjust your spec list to ensure you get the most important things built on the day of launch.
4. Do not ask your users for features! This one might seem difficult to digest but it is important to remember. Users do not decide the features, that job is yours. The user's role is to explain their problems, you have to identify the common thread in their problems and develop the features accordingly. Remember, users will have a lot of problems for which they want features, the ones you identify are going to make it to the MVP.
Always remember, the MVP is a MINIMUM viable product. Strip it off all the glittery and shiny things, and keep the main matter. It's easy to measure engagement with the main elements, and additionally, small addons that provide far less value to the users tend to be the factors that drive them away.
Keep limited functionality and condense things down to the most important problems of the initial users (and not the many millions of potential users you imagine will use the product). Focus on a small set and ignore the rest. MVP is the base you build and iterate on and not the star final product in your mind.
Don't get stuck in a loop of perfection
Many times while making your MVP you will have many ideas that you might think need to be included and you keep fine-tuning your MVP to perfection. Press the stop button! Realize that there is no product if it's not out there. Iterations can be carried out based on the feedback you get from users of your product, so finish and get these users onboard. It's okay to miss out on some things and it's okay to get a few things wrong, but if you have a solid product that provides real insights, it can always be improved.
If you start believing that the MVP is special, you will keep tinkering with it, but if you don't, you will get it ready to launch. The day you stop trying to make the MVP perfect and start thinking about just launching it, you will stop polishing all the edges and get it ready. You will at least have something out there.
There you have it, some of the less discussed, very important things to consider while you are making your MVP. If you take away anything from this post, then it should remind you that launching is the most important thing to do (guessing you are doing or have done the market research, defined product personas, and all the other basics). Do not get bothered by growth, retention, etc. before launching a basic product, let's take the first step before we move on.