What is an MVP? Do I need an MVP?
MVP stands for “minimum viable product.” The term gets thrown around a lot in the startup and software development communities and sometimes, folks get confused. We typically think of the term “MVP” as “most valuable player” which can have connotations of the best, ultimate, final, and fully polished product. This is far from what we’re talking about with software development. A minimum viable product is literally the bare-bones version of a product that you can launch into the market to get started. This is absolutely NOT the final product. The purpose of launching an MVP is to enter the market and engage with users then iterate and work towards a more polished product.
All things being equal, the answer to the question “Do I need an MVP?” should be “Yes!” However, the point at which you need this MVP is the variable you need to consider. Let’s talk through the initial stages of launching a product when it comes to software development.
First, proof of concept should be determined internally to understand the true value and benefit of the product or parts of said product. Proving the concept/idea works or will work is critical and should go through multiple iterations of testing internally. This internal validation helps to drive development forward before engaging with the market and potential customers/users.
Validation & Planning
Next, there should be validation that other people see the value and are interested in the product or application. There are a few ways to go about this. Before designing or building anything, many founders and organizations find success in testing ideas simply by talking to their target market. You can do focus groups, interviews, 1:1s, or build and test basic landing pages with signups to gauge interest in a future launch. Why do all this? If you can get people to sign up for something before it exists, you’re probably on the right track. An LOI (letter of intent) that shows someone is excited about the potential software enough to reserve a purchase as an early adopter can be a gamechanger for early-stage companies. Think about how this could help in pitching to VCs before the application is even built. These exercises can also help you discover glaring issues with product-market fit or public perception before you put all the money and hard work into building an MVP for a product that no one wants.
Depending on your situation, you may decide to skip the steps mentioned above and jump right to designing conceptual wireframes or even a working prototype to help get you closer to the MVP of the product or software. Sometimes, designs and mockups can help with the narrative when engaging early potential users. This process should again, be iterative and heavily tied to user engagement before launching the “MVP.” This feedback will help you understand what areas are worth focusing on today vs. tomorrow. Once you truly understand what minimum viable product requirements are needed for a full launch, you’re ready for the MVP for your software.
The MVP is the foundation of the product. This is just V1 and the engagement with first users and early adopters needs to stay a top priority. There will be challenges and changes will need to be made, lots of changes. As the product matures, engagement shouldn’t stop. Successful software companies are heavily engaged with their customers/users and make ongoing changes based on feedback and usage. It’s all iterative but the more you can get ahead before launch, the better.
There is no “right” way to approach a product’s launch and MVP. Every company/vision is different and at the end of the day you need to do what’s best for your company, team, timeline, investors, etc… There’s never a better time to make critical changes to an application than before it’s fully built and budgets are spent. Market testing and understanding the user experience are essential elements of the road to MVP and all the roads thereafter.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help you launch your own MVP!
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