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Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

By Duncan Hewitt on February 15, 2016

We see it in popular TV shows like Dragon’s Den. I’ve lost count of the number of times Duncan Bannatyne has said ‘I’m out’ because the product before him, although fantastically creative and innovative, is effectively unwanted by the consumer. So what is the point of product development? To make money? To win a Nobel Prize? To change the world? No. It is to please the consumer. That is where Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes in. An MVP is a process which you repeat over and over again. To start, create something in its most stripped back state or its ‘minimum’. Release it. Get the product in front of your market. This is the best way to understand the need for it and understand what needs to change.
When you build a product you make many assumptions. You assume you know what the customer is looking for, how the design should work, what the marketing strategy should be to get the best out of the product; the list goes on. No matter how good you are, some of your assumptions will be wrong. Accepting this is the first step on your way to creating an MVP. Understand what your product does or more importantly what issue does it resolve. When discussing this, always have your main goal in mind – how it satisfies the customer! Now the features are finalised and prioritised you can finally answer the question ‘why are we building this again?’ You might discover there is not enough interest from your target market to make this a viable business. Time to sack the creative thinkers. But the positive is all it cost you was a few hours of brainstorming and heated debate instead of months of development. Having said that, you might find out your target market have a major need for your product but for a few tweaks. That’s progress, that’s MVP.