MVP is not what you may think it is?

If you have ever decided to have your own startup and started reading a lot about the process, there’s a high chance that you have heard of this word – Minimum Viable Product a.k.a MVP. If you think that the name itself is self-explanatory and you don’t need to go in-depth, you may need to think twice about that!

And that’s not your fault at all.

This is not something that we have probably studied in our academics before. This is an alien term until you decide to follow and read some startup stuff online. I learned a lot of information from YouTube videos, online tutorials, and Medium articles. And yeah books too. But prior contributes more. If you are like me, you might be doing the same. Most of the time information is scattered and not complete. So if you already know what MVP is, I would still suggest that you read this article. You may find something that you have missed.

Let’s continue with MVP.

What is the number one problem people face in building an MVP?

Can you guess?

Is it coming up with a killer business idea?

Is it how you will market your product?

No, it’s neither one of those.

It’s figuring out how minimum your MVP needs to be

So how minimum you go?

Till the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of whether or not MVP is too minimum or not enough minimum.

If I have to come up with a terrible example,

For women, it’s kind of makeup. If you put on too much or not enough, the answer is, the right guy is not going to care at all!

That doesn’t make any sense, right?

But at the end of the article, I think it will.

Let’s divide the MVP into three separate parts.

  • Minimum
  • Viable
  • Product

We will be focusing on Minimum and Product only. Viable is self-explanatory.

The term MVP was coined in 2001 by Frank Robinson, but gained popularity from the book ‘The Lean Startup’, by Eric Ries.

If you think Product is just something that you can ship via Flipkart, or finished mobile app and website, you have been misguided. Again, not your fault. The Product is poorly worded.

Product does not mean that your business cannot have a service or it cannot be a feature within a product. For the purpose of the MVP framework, they just called everything products. Anything you are trying to sell, even if it is a service, it is considered as P.

So the thumb rule is, whatever value you are trying to exchange for money, that is going to be the P.

This is not that the authors have not thought about this. But it is for our simplicity. I imagine they did this because calling it Minimum Viable Products, Services, Features, and Other Things (MVPSF&OT) is not very catchy.

So let’s not discuss anymore about the Product, because chances are you’re going to qualify for the P.

So when we are done with the V and the P, M is really the only thing we care about.

Remember, we’re supposed to go as lean as possible, and that’s how we stop ourselves from wasting resources. Now, the number one question people always ask is,

“If I make something so minimum, and it looks like garbage, how is anyone going to pay money for it, even if it’s a good idea?”

And it’s a good question, and that’s what we’re going to answer.

I’m going to introduce the concept of Product Innovation Curve.

Product Innovation/Adoption Curve Image. (src. Wikipedia)

If you have not seen this before, let me explain. The curve is divided into five different sections, and it goes from left to right. We start with the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and then the laggards. This describes the general population. Each product out there, falls into one of this category.

Now, basically the first people who are going to adopt your product are going to be the Innovators and the Early Adopters. They’re interested in things that are new and cutting edge. The majority of the population is in Early Majority and Late Majority.

Laggards are the ones who come into the picture when your product is very mature. They are like the students who enter the class 10-15 minutes before the lecture is going to end, just to mark their attendance:p

If I ask you, who you are going to target with your MVP?

And you answer, the innovators and early adopters. Then…

You need to try again!

We are only going after the innovators.

Now, what is the difference between those two?

The innovators are interested in cutting edge things, and the early adopters are also interested in cutting edge things, but innovators do not care about whether or not other people are using it. Innovators only care about whether or not that product solves a problem for them, they don’t care if it’s ugly, if it’s partially functional, they don’t care if it’s frustrating, if they find value from it, they will use it.

So when I say minimal, I mean minimal, because we’re only going after the innovators, and they don’t care how your product looks like, they don’t care how fancy the buttons are, they don’t care if you’ve got a parallax background, none of that, they just don’t care.

If someone doesn’t like the design of your MVP, it just means that they are in the latter part of the innovation curve, maybe they are early adopters.

And that is really the essence of MVP.

Get out there quickly, don’t waste your time, and if it looks too pretty when you first launch it, you did something wrong.

OK, let’s recap. What do we care about when we say MVP?

We really just care about the M – minimum.

And how do we make it ridiculously minimum without turning everybody off? Well, it doesn’t matter if we turn everybody off, because we’re only targeting the front of the product innovation curve, people called innovators, these people do not care how pretty it is.

Hope you got it!

Thanks for reading this completely. I know it was long, but I have to put my point based on whatever I have learned till now.