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How to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product): expert opinion

Dmitry Drigo
CEO of SDH Digital Solutions, LLC
In this article, we will be exploring on the minimum viable product and what successful entrepreneurs think about it.
Everything starts with a hypothesis and if it is correct, it is necessary to create a minimum version of the product (application, device, item, etc.). That is to make a prototype.

For example, the company can have a completely new idea, which will take more than one month or even a year to begin mass production or mass sales.

However, it is not necessary to spend time and money on its full development. To test a sample, it is enough to have a mini-version of the future product with the most important and basic functional capabilities that are most valuable to the customers.

This product is called the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It can and should be thoroughly inspected, tested, and shown to potential investors and buyers.

The results of the tests will show how the idea works in reality, what can be improved upon and how to bring it to perfection, what direction to choose for further development, or abort and begin all over.

It must be clarified that MVP is not only a reduced mini-version with a minimum set of functions. It is a resource-saving tool that shows how economically feasible it is to promote a given business idea. As a result, it will be the final offer.

MVP is interpreted differently and that is why it is so important to understand the concept itself, learn about the expert opinion, what MVP is, where it is used and how to look into the creation process.

How is MVP defined

Before starting development, companies should answer a few questions:

1) what is an MVP for this company;
2) mandatory product functionality for the test;
3) optional functionality;
4) what is valuable or useful in the mini-version of the product for the consumer;
5) whether such products are available on the market.

Objectivity at this stage is primordially most important because what a developer may like in his product and functionality could be unnecessary to the client in reality or it is not the most important part of the idea.

In this case, perhaps the best solution will be to refuse such an MVP.

How can the most important aspects be highlighted? To make the list with all its functions and characteristics, to describe each item in detail.

Then to specify the priority function which is the most valuable in the product. Every other detail is already included in the further development plan.

If there are similar ideas on the market, it is better to study them in advance, to determine the value and quality in order to highlight the following:
• how to do things differently;
• how to improve the functionality of your product;
• what it takes to make a product more viable than that of your competitor.

The MVP is designed as the customer deems necessary, taking into account all the data and preferences collected.

With the involvement of several parties in the development of an MVP, the concept will be unstable because of the many additions and nuances. But all collected ideas will be an excellent basis for expanding functionality in the future.

The main thing is not to lose the quality of the product while speeding the launching process and accelerating the development. The product must work, and in order to do so, you need to fix bugs and make corrections in time.

Launching an MVP

Once a minimum viable product has been created, it is launched and tested at a set time. Based on the test results, statistics are collected about users, customers, and potential clients interested in the new product.

The statistical data will determine how everything works and whether there are imperfections, to understand the success of the idea itself, to find strong and weak points. And the main thing at this stage is the feedback from the client or user.

Only carefully collected statistics will help to determine how to proceed with the results obtained.

Summarizing the above, we can see what the main goals of an MVP are.

1) Test the hypothesis of a new product with a minimum budget.
2) Get the required information about the best solution in a short time.
3) Save on development and production costs.
4) Provide a unique product, to solve one or more problems for the first users.

How useful can be an MVP - the opinion and experience of experts in the field

When developing an MVP, business owners generates their ideas about the product and its purpose. Therefore, experienced entrepreneurs can share their valuable knowledge in this field, which will be very useful to everyone.

Marcin Treder on MVP

— co-founder and CEO of UXPin (cloud-based web design solution).
A paper notebook was the very first offer and that is what Marcin Treder started out with. The current candidate for the new UXPin prototype is the cloud solution that is needed when creating a layout or prototype.

Marcin's team had no idea that they would ever move from the paper version to digital MVPs. It all started with a group of designers who wanted to make their colleagues' work easier and more professional.

But after analyzing all the options offered by competitors and the dissatisfaction of the targeted audience with such solutions, UXPin began to develop the latest cloud platform.

Marcin sees an MVP not as an ideal or quick version of a product, but as a test. And his first offer, of course, did not have the proper effect, but everything changed, and today UXPin is well reputed among the same professionals. Which confirms the strategy that was originally chosen.

Ash Maurya about MVP

— writer of 'Running Lean — Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed'
Ash was also able to find his solution and approach in developing an MVP. He selected a target group of users and identified three main faults with the products available on the market to solve them.

This defined the first functions of the MVP and created an office capable of solving target audience problems, which saved him time in testing.

Ash created a "lean canvas", where there were only four important points:

1) Confirm the importance of the problem.
2) Identify the product to solve the problem.
3) Develop and validate an MVP on a smaller scale.
4) Confirm the data obtained in step 3 on a larger scale.

Eric Ries on MVP

— co-founder of IMVU (social entertainment website), MVP supporter
Eric has an opinion that the early version of the new product allows us to collect the maximum amount of data with minimum effort and quickly create an offer, even if with reduced functionality.

The main thing is that it should be enough to test scenarios on the target audience and create hypotheses of customers' needs. This saves the budget considerably and you don't need to use expensive market research.

Nick Swinmurn on MVP

— co-founder of Zappos (online shoe store)
Nick's MVP is a unique yet simple example of how to budget the first viable MVP model.

He took his own shoe photos in small shops and posted the images on the Zappos site.

If a customer was shopping online, Nick would go to the same retail store and make a purchase and then send it to the customer with Zappos. That is, he did not have the original product in reality and he needed the MVP to remove the uncertainty as much as possible and find out if the business was viable.

This approach is often called vaporware or "phantom software" and is used by aspiring companies and startups: they offer a product that does not exist or is just being developed.

Cindy Alvarez on MVP

— Yammer user experience specialist (corporate social network) and former KISSmetrics product manager (web analytics platform)
Cindy's opinion about MVP is that it does not have to be a product. And those who think otherwise are wrong.

The goal of an MVP is to maximize data collection with minimal risk and investment, so it is fundamentally wrong to consider an offer as the only way to achieve the goal.

An MVP needs to be thoroughly investigated. This means that the mini-version should have minimum functions. She recommends using the "Cupcake Model" and solve two problems: to formulate expectations from the result correctly and to define the end-user more precisely.

Rand Fishkin on MVP

— co-founder of Moz (Inbound Marketing Platform)
What first impressions does the product leave behind — that is what is most important in the development of an MVP, Rand is sure. His minimum viable product becomes the "exceptional viable product" — EVP. Because being valuable is more important than solving problems.

The whole idea lies in testing the product on a few people, and based on the feedback on the usage, the fate of the product will be decided. If ratings are high and reviews are good, then EVP can be publicized. It takes 1-3 more months, but the result is worth it.

Steve Blank on MVP

— serial entrepreneur, MVP lecturer, and 'The Godfather of Silicon Valley'
According to Steve, each product has to be special, have something different, and stand out from the others.

The minimum set of basic features is important and remains a priority, but you can and should add your own zest to any project. Something that will attract dreamers or whistleblowers.

People who believe that this product is special and can change the world when it’s final features and shape are implemented.
Professionals, successful businesspersons, and developers have different opinions about the MVP.
But their general conclusions are the same — MVP is not a minimum viable product with limited functionality or a reduced version of the final offer, but the basis for creating a complete product and a tool for testing business ideas.
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