You don't know what an MVP means
Startup, a word that is thrown around often in the business world. It used to mean small tech companies that are building an app for a certain purpose. In the past years, the word meaning expanded and now it. Now it means a bunch of people that started a company with a mission to solve a problem for which the solution is not obvious and the risk of failure is high.
And this word, which nowadays entails many things, has changed the way we do business. Now you have to think like a startup and act like a startup to move and deliver new services and products fast. Not only fast, but solutions that actually solve a problem and not a product with a bunch of features. Big corporations try to copy the startup model to improve their internal collaboration process and ways they deliver products. But are startups themselves able to deliver products that actually solve problems?
Most of the startups fail in the first year after launch and others in the upcoming years. And this is to only to find out that they have been spending money instead of making them. They did not have a clear message and positioning or they have been copying everything from other companies. Or my favorite, spending money and building the product for around 1–2 years only to find out that they can’t sell it or the customers don’t need it.
At Laroche, we worked with a couple of startups here and there. Even helped solo entrepreneurs launch their new products and so on. So a part of our customers are startups and small businesses that started or have at least 1 year of business behind their back. Working with them is always a pleasure because I love people who bring something new to the market. Or people who always look to change something hoping to improve or fix something in the world. It’s always interesting to see different perspectives on how certain problems can be solved. In the past year of experience, I discovered a pattern. Almost all small companies or startups do the same mistakes when it comes to building a product. They want to build an MVP, a basic product with the barest and needed functionalities that the user needs. This helps to test the product and if the idea of your product is viable and should you follow it or not. Unfortunately, they all end up building a product bigger than they planned with a bunch of features that simply don’t add value.
Why is this happening?
Fear. We all want to get it and make it from the first time. And like in any big game with high adrenaline, we go all in in order to get the best results. And it’s not bad at all to take risks and go all in for certain features. But meanwhile, you are working on delivering a good MVP of the product, the CEO comes and wants to add a new feature, functionalities and so on. And it all boils down to the vision he has and how he wants to see the product. And in the end, his vision becomes an obstacle for the current product that is being used by your customers/users.
Your MVP is not an MVP
In the tech world, the word MVP has become a part of the daily vocabulary. And for those who are new to this term, it means Minimum Viable Product.
In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with enough features to please early customers and to provide feedback for future development. — Wikipedia
All our customers want us to build & design an MVP for them but end up requesting an entire functional product with tons of features. And already thinking about how to design and build the second version of it.
This is not the best approach if you want to launch fast and test a product for the first time. First, you have to have the product launched and see how the market reacts to it. You need to get real feedback from people you have to build it for. This will give you “data” to create an opinion and decide on what to build or where to act next.
How to decide which is the most important feature of your product? Well, that’s easy. The feature of why you started that product. For example, you are building a to-do app, the main feature would be easiness and speed of writing down the to do. And it should be easy to do it on mobile and the web.
What are extra features that you do not need when building an MVP for a to-do app? Email notifications, comments, invite collaborators, attach files, you get the idea. A rule of thumb is to choose 3 features around which your product will evolve in the future.
It all comes down to having a clear vision. How should it look like? How should it work? Deconstruct your vision into parts and choose the most important features/goals. Those 3 things you chose will help you to build the bigger picture.
Here are some steps for you to remember and apply:
And now some of you may ask, what about the vision about my product? Of course, it is important to think long term on what the product is going to look like and how it will work. And there is a chance that the users or customers will not see your long-term vision for your product and most of them will reject it or will say that there is no use for it in their lives. That is why it is important to launch a real MVP, with only bare features and functionalities so you can get real data about your product.
And if your users will not like the product then it is great! Because now you can find out the real why. Why they won’t use it? Why don’t they see a fit of this product with their current lifestyle? What will make them use it? Spend time with your customers. Learn about their lifestyle. Find out what are their pain points when it comes to the problem you are trying to solve. And in these conversations, it is important to have a friend2friend approach. Get to the level where the customer can say it sincerely without being polite, on what frustrates them about your product. Or what exactly they wish as a solution.
The best thing that will happen to you if your MVP fails is that you will get reliable data on what did not work and in the best case an opportunity may appear for a new product. Probably this MVP was necessary to discover a new feature, product, service, you name it.
So from our own experience, keep it simple, listen to your customer, learn and implement fast. Micro speed and macro patience.