Your New MVP: the Minimum Viable Product - Sebastian Klein (Blinkist)
We’re not talking about the Most Valuable Player. The Minimum Viable Product can help you make progress faster than ever before and scale more nimbly than the leggiest daddy longlegs.
Founders know this trap: your product becomes your life story – a never-ending life story. You work and work on it in isolation, perfecting it before you introduce it to the world.
But wait. As noble as all that dedication and all those all-nighters may sound, stop tinkering now. You need to know whether this miraculous thing you’re building even has a real market.
The trick to creating a sustainable business is knowing as quickly as possible whether there’s any demand for your product. Startup bible, The Lean Startup, explains that the quickest and easiest way to get real-world customer feedback on your idea is to create a lo-fi version of your innovation: the MVP.
What does the MVP do?
The minimal viable product (MVP) should be as simple as possible and should contain only what is needed to give the customers a realistic experience of how your product would work – just enough to draw useful feedback from them.
What does the MVP look like?
The MVP can be a simple bare-bones prototype of your product, or even a smoke test in which you pretend to sell a fake product. Uploading pictures of shoes to a web shop even though you cannot yet sell any is a prime example.
Are there real-world examples of how founders used MVPs?
Yes! Take the founders of Dropbox. They knew that developing their idea into an actual product would take a lot of time, so they got crafty. They chose a simple and creative way to confirm that there was demand for a new, user-friendly data-synchronising service and created a video presenting their idea. In just one night, 75,000 people were on the waiting list. The Dropbox team concluded they were on the right track and could start developing the actual product.
Even if you don’t work for a startup, this MVP mindset can be revolutionary. You can use it for devising a new format for group meetings, for testing whether there’s a market for a novel you want to write – the possibilities are endless. Don’t over-engineer your product and spend a year in your garage. Build the lightest possible version that shows what you have in mind, and then get some feedback on it from the wider world. The Minimum Viable Product just might be your Most Valuable Player, too.
Sebastian is cofounder at Blinkist, a service that feeds curious minds key insights from non-fiction books. As Blinkist's Editor-in-Chief, he specializes in distilling complex concepts from great books into smart, beautiful language.