As a startup, you believe that you have the next big thing and are working tirelessly to get your product out. However, you end up putting in endless hours and still have nothing to show so far to customers. There is a better way!
So, what’s the best way to see if your product is actually solving a problem that customers will use and/or pay for? This is where minimum viable product (MVP) comes into play. Instead of putting in countless hours of effort and adding in all the features you can think of and perfecting it prior to launch, you provide a product that has the core function that will allow customers to get an idea of your product. Then, you let them provide you feedback and see what is working/what isn’t working and improve upon it in your next phase.
The MVP approach allows you to go to market faster and validate your product idea much quicker. Ultimately, it will save you time and money. In each iteration, you build upon the previous phase and incorporate your learnings from user feedback, analytics, etc.
There are multiple approaches to creating a MVP. Here are some of the most popular:
Landing page. The goal with a landing page is to explain your product, its value, and get users to sign up (whether it be for more information, notification of when your product launches, etc.). Through the use of Google AdWords and Google Analytics, along with the number of email signups, you’ll validate if your product is something people will be interested in long before you’ve even developed anything. This approach is best used in conjunction or follow up with some of the other MVP approaches as a landing page alone will not provide you all the information that you need about your customer and features they’d like to see, how much they’re willing to pay, etc.
Explainer video. An explainer video of what your product will do and how it will benefit customers will hopefully intrigue customers enough to sign up with their email for notification of launch, more product info, etc. The video does not have to be anything fancy, just whatever it takes to pique early adopters interest. The most famous example is Dropbox. After including an explainer video, they saw their early email signups jump from 5,000 to 75,000 in a single day.
Full site with manual service. Another popular approach is to develop what looks like a fully functioning site on the front end but manually fulfilling orders/servicing. This requires much more effort than the others and can only be sustained for so long before needing to actually develop the site but can provide a lot of learnings.
Crowdfunding campaigns. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others will validate if customers are willing to pay for your product and additionally, it will help raise money. Also, once you launch you’ll have a great loyal base in place who can not only spread the word about your product but can also be an useful source of obtaining feedback.
These are just a few of the approaches to MVP’s, there are multiple other approaches and it all depends on your product or service in choosing the right one for your business. Regardless of the approach, the ultimate goal of a MVP is for learnings – price points, customer needs, features desired, whatever it may be. So work smarter, not harder!