All startups “start” with an idea the founders believe with every fabric of their being that people want.
Whether their product is Uber for X, Tinder for Y, or the social network that is going to dethrone Facebook, the venture’s founders are convinced it will win Disrupt and catapult them to the top of Silicon Valley’s Mount Rushmore alongside Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Page.
After months, or even years, of building their product, they finally bring it to market and learn a hard truth — consumers just aren’t interested.
Designed to mitigate this risk, Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology’ optimizes the speed at which startups are able to build and launch products.
The faster you get your product in front of consumers, the faster you find out what works and what more importantly doesn’t. Your funding is now spent iterating on your offering, not building a product that no one wants.
A key component of this concept is the MVP, or Minimum Viable Product .
In Ries’ own words,
“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
It is important to note that unlike a prototype, an MVP is not designed to answer specific technical product questions, its goal is to test the fundamental hypothesis of your business.
A great example of an MVP was created by Drew Houston for the file hosting service Dropbox. Houston simply shot a three-minute video of him using an early version of the product to give potential users a feel for how his service will work.
Promoting the video made their beta list grow from 5,000 to 75,000 people, validating the market’s interest and forecasting the product’s now explosive success.
What This Means for You If You Aren't a Startup
The lesson for startups is essential, but what if you aren’t a Silicon Valley founder paying three grand a month for a studio? (If you are, keep fighting the good fight. Entrepreneurs hold the singular ability to define a better future of products and services).
What will learning about MVPs teach you about your business or brand, not matter its size or age?
Fail fast and fail often. Innovation is unlocked by formulating hypotheses and rapidly testing and iterating on them.
Utilize the breadth of consumer data made available by smart analytics to accurately gauge demand. An MVP can be as simple as building a landing page for a product, but before you’ve completed building the product. If users aren’t clicking through, they aren’t going to click through once the product is finished. Tag and track how site visitors are interacting with the page to figure out what they are interested in, and not.
The consumer is always right. An idea may sound brilliant echoing through the C-Suite, but confirm it with your evangelists as quickly as possible. Beware focusing on what they say, it’s more important what they do. Meaning, actions that demonstrate intent are much more powerful than the flawed focus group.
Be it a minimum viable product, brand, or experience our team wants to hear about how we can transform your idea into a breakthrough. Have an idea? Get in touch.