When we create a product for a client, we want it to fully satisfy their needs. We come up with and create functions and predict whims of the target group. We focus on ensuring a maximum product efficiency, so that our client will choose our solution, and not the solution from our competition.
Throughout the path of creating the right value for the client, we need to remember about the resources. In most cases, this limited element determines the way of doing things and forces you to be precise and accurate in your business decisions.
Most newly established companies fail because of not finding a fit in their offer with the market. Therefore, verification of to what degree your solution satisfies your clients and modifying it based on their feedback is your buffer.
Let’s imagine that you are trying to create all the preferred functions right when introducing the product to the market. It takes a lot of time, energy, and is very budget-consuming. Let’s not forget that you haven’t gotten feedback from your client yet, and you don’t know if our proposition meets their expectations. What you have is a lot of money spent and resources invested.
That’s why in the startup environment, people started implementing the MVP concept – Minimum Viable Product, which is about introducing a product with limited (basic) functionalities to the market. The first one to use the term was Eric Ries.
Basic product and the product with full functionality – example
To present it more visually, here’s the difference between a basic product and the product with full functionality in two pictures.
In the first picture, you can see a moka pot, used for brewing coffee, and in the second one, a coffee machine, with which you can make a number of types of coffee. The function of both of the devices is to serve you coffee. Nonetheless, the second one has a number of additional options which let you get different tastes. The first machine enables you to verify if the user will be interested in changing the way how they brew their coffee (to get its essence) and switching from pouring boiling water on ground beans to using machines. The second one gives you a range of other options.
Thanks to that, the creators of the solution receive clear information about their product and possible improvements. That’s why in the early stages, you only implement functions that satisfy users’ basic needs. With that, you save time needed for implementation, resource needed for realization and verify your own hypotheses, so you limit the risk connected with introducing a new product.
In other words, an MVP is a minimally ready product that you introduce to the market to test how you fit the client’s needs. In practice, it means the product’s first clash with reality, which decides not only on its further development direction, but whether it’s going to be introduced to the market at all.
An MVP is characterized by the fact that the product you’ve made:
- has enough value for the users to want to buy it
- has enough value to keep the early adopters
- provides feedback which is the basis for improvement
In practice, it means that you exclude all the functions that don’t constitute the basis for fulfilling a defined need. For example, if you’re making a service with which a musician can put their song up for sale, with your first implementation, you won’t be adding recommendations, saving to favorites, sharing with friends or recording from the panel. You just give users the option to sell a song or make a purchase.
Apart from limiting the product’s functions to its only basic one, you may also present the product’s aim in a way of e.g. a mockup. There are examples of businesses whose MVPs were based on presenting the idea to users – as if the product was already live. Thanks to that, the creators had the chance to check the actual interest in the offer and get the users’ opinions before introducing the product to the market. A few examples of this hacked MVP model are:
- Dropbox – it stores files in a cloud. The founder, Drew Huston, initially posted a 3-minute clip on a website Hacker News, explaining the idea of Dropbox. The users left many useful comments and Huston received 70 000 emails in one day, realizing that it’s an idea worth going forward with.
- Buffer – it’s a tool for planning posts on social media platforms. Before introducing the product, the owner, Joel Gascogine, wanted to verify the need for this type of product. That’s why he created a landing page for the app, with which he verified the traffic, the number of people who clicked on the payment and the number of email left. Joel then decided to take further steps checking for the willingness to buy, and then got around to developing.
- Kickstarter – lets you check if people would like to pay for a product before it being introduced to the market.
If you’re still considering investing into carrying out your idea, check which basic functions it provides and how you can reduce them. Also, take a look at our article about Business Model Canvas, which is one of the tools to define a product.