People often misunderstand the definition of an “MVP” (is it a first version? is it a validation test? is it a way to prioritize requirements? All of the above?)
Rather than define it, I thought I would talk about the intention and an MVP and validation experiments, why people create MVPs in the first place and how they are used.
When designing a validation test or MVP the main thing you should be asking is: “what is the minimum I can do to learn something”?
About the assumptions we have made, the problems we think are solving, who we are solving them for and the way we are thinking of solving them.
While also delivering on the core value proposition.
Because that’s the hardest part of being a startup or any product for that matter is understanding demand.
There are four stages of DEMAND:
- Understand (MVP, proof of concept, interviewing, insights, problem framing, product / solution fit etc)
- Capture (Acquisition, activation, getting traction, channel experimentation etc)
- Keep (Retention, more traction, measuring, churn etc)
- Grow (between keep and grow is when you start to achieve product / market fit - by here you should also understand which distribution / marketing channels are most effective).
It’s really important to understand the stages a startup or product / service goes through so you know what you should be doing when. Especially when it comes to understanding demand for any idea.
The trick with understanding demand in the beginning for products and services (or ideas) and what the MVP can help with, is to pull apart PERCEIVED demand from ACTUAL demand for a product or service, based on the value proposition it delivers.
Ask yourself how can you learn quickly (from real customers), iterate and improve in small steps (days and weeks), avoid waste (in under used features), avoid over committing (too early), solve for “just right” (product / solution fit) and build in the right direction (build to demand)?
If you keep these things in mind, then you will answer for yourself, your team and your clients / investors why you design and run validation tests and create MVPs.