Minimum Viable Product

Understanding A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – For Startups With Types & Examples


Minimum viable product or MVP is the most used term in the lean startup jargon.

MVP enables development teams to validate and iterate a new product based on user feedback. It helps to save time, resources, and effort by providing insights into the viability of the product/idea.  

But many first time entrepreneurs are clueless about MVP. There is also confusion between the terms proof of concept, MVP and prototype.

Let us discuss MVP in detail and know about its types and uses.

What is Minimum Viable Product? – Meaning

The concept of MVP is introduced by Eric Ries as part of his lean start-up methodology. MVP is the first product launched by a startup to gather feedback from the actual users.

It has the most basic features but still can be used by the target audience.

Releasing the MVP helps to gauge the response of the prospective customers and make improvements to the final product according to their feedback.

MVP also helps businesses to start generating revenue while still in the development stage.

Characteristics of an MVP

MVP has three key characteristics

  • It has adequate features to convince prospective customers to buy the product.
  • It has a feedback mechanism to gather feedback from the early users.
  • It promises enough future benefits for the early adopters to show interest in trying the basic version.

What is the Purpose of Releasing a Minimum Viable Product?

According to Eric Ries, the purpose of an MVP is to aid the development teams to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with minimum effort.

A business can choose to develop an MVP for the following purposes.

  • Release the product in the market quickly.
  • Test the product in real-life scenarios before committing a huge budget and time to the product development.
  • Gather feedback from early adopters to measure their response to the various features and decide the direction of further development of the product.
  • Reduce risks by testing the concept with real users.

Types of Minimum Viable Product

MVPs are classified into several types based on the purpose and form of their development. MVPs can be broadly divided into two main categories – High-fidelity MVPs and Low-fidelity MVPs.

High-fidelity MVP

High-fidelity MVPs demand high resources for development yet they give profound results that will help you estimate whether the customers are willing to pay for your product/service. 

They engage the early adopters to get insights about how much they are willing to pay for your solution and help to optimize business strategies for growth.

Types of High Fidelity MVP

  • Single-Feature MVP – This is the most popular type of MVP used mostly in software development, app development and gaming. A basic version of the proposed product with the core functionalities is released to the market to check the users’ perception and ascertain its viability.
  • Pre-Order MVP – A pre-order MVP lets you know whether the prospective customers are willing to pay for the product. It can also be used to gather funds for product development and crowdfunding. Pre-order MVP is suitable for businesses with a good reputation and innovative products.
  • Concierge MVP – A concierge MVP allows you to analyze customer behavior and evaluate the demand for your product idea. It is a product that simulates a multifunctional software solution while a human fulfills the functions at the backend. The user is accompanied by an operator throughout their interaction with the product.
  • The Wizard of OZ MVP – This MVP is similar to the concierge MVP, but here the customer is not aware that they are assisted by a human operator. The solution looks and feels like a fully functional product. The wizard of OZ MVP is suitable to validate ideas that require high-end sophisticated technologies.
  • Piecemeal MVP -This product is created using the existing technologies and resources. It is suitable for businesses with innovative product ideas but limited resources. Piecemeal MVPs are faster to make as they use the existing solutions and third-party services for product delivery.

Low-fidelity MVP

Low-fidelity MVPs aid to test the viability of your idea. They are easy to develop and help to analyze the customer pain points and challenges.

These MVPs can be used to check whether the customer problem is worth solving and whether your product is the right solution to solve the problems of prospective customers.

Types of Low-fidelity MVPs

  • The Fake Door MVP – Also called the ”audience building MVP”, the fake door MVP is used to gauge the interest in a product or an additional feature in a product without actual product development. This type of MVP is suitable for businesses having a steady customer base and wanting to validate a new product idea or a new feature.
  • Landing Page MVP – Landing page MVP is an easy to deploy and concise MVP to evaluate the interest of the prospective customers in your solution. In this type of MVP, a landing page is created to showcase the features and benefits of the proposed solution and gauge the visitors’ interest in further engaging with the product.
  • Customer Interviews – A customer interview is an honest interview with potential customers to know their challenges and problems. You can ask questions related to the problem you are trying to address and your proposed solution. The interview should revolve around the product, price, promotion and purchase behavior.
  • Explainer Videos – As the name suggests, this MVP is a video explaining the features and benefits of the product, and why your potential customers should consider buying it. Videos have become popular as they are simple to understand.
  • Email Campaign MVP – This MVP is suitable for businesses having a considerable email base of potential users. Email MVP allows you to have a personal interaction with the customers to validate your product idea. Email campaigns can be used in tandem with fake door or landing MVPs to get a clearer picture of the audience reactions.

Choosing the right MVP for your idea helps to save time and product development costs. It also aids in reducing the risks by providing insights into customer expectations and demands.

You should choose the MVP based on the product or service, industry and your purpose of creating the MVP.

Minimum Viable Product Vs Proof Of Concept Vs Prototype

MVP, POC, Prototype, and MMP are used vividly in the startup terminology. Though they appear to be similar, there are many differences between the four concepts.

Point of differenceMVPPOCPrototype
PurposeTo check whether the product is accepted by the potential customers and collect their feedback for further product developmentTo check the technical and financial viability of the ideaTo get a basic idea of the look and functioning of the product
AudienceReleased to the market to engage early adoptersFor internal purposes and shared with investors for fundraisingFor internal purposes, shared with stakeholders and investors to showcase the initial look of the product
Need of technical resourcesRequires comparatively more technical resourcesDoes not require much investmentRequires some technical resources to develop the prototype
CostsRequires a high budget to develop the marketable version of the product with core functionalitiesVery low budget as it is a technical study to determine the viability of the productNeeds minimum budget to develop the prototype
Revenue generationCan be released to the market and hence can generate revenuePoc is not meant to generate revenuePrototype does not generate revenue as it does not contain the functionalities

Minimum Viable Product Vs Minimum Marketable Product

MVP and MMP are two distinct processes in product development.

While MVP incorporates the basic features of a product and helps to gather feedback from early adopters, MMP consists of a group of functionalities desired by the users and creates quantifiable value for the business.

Minimum Marketable Product is the next step to Minimum Viable Product.

The development team can proceed to develop the MMP after gathering feedback from the early adopters about the functionality of the MVP and the desired features.

In other words, we can say that an MMP is the first upgrade of the product after completing the validated learning of prospective customers’ demands and preferences.

Examples of Minimum Viable Products

Here are some examples of businesses which started as MVPs and soon turned successful.

Amazon

Most of us know that Amazon started as an online book store. Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a piecemeal MVP. He bought books from distributors and shipped them to customers every time he received an order.

With the success of MVP, he kept adding more products to the store and expanding the business. Starting as an MVP, Amazon today is one of the most successful ecommerce platforms.

Airbnb

One of the most successful apartment rental platforms Airbnb started as an MVP. The founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia experimented by renting his own apartment to gauge customers preference.

As it became clear that travelers were willing to stay in someone else’s homes to save accommodation costs while traveling, the platform was expanded and became successful.

Facebook

Facebook started out as a Facemash, an online campus tool to connect everyone on the campus. Later, it evolved into Thefacebook, an MVP of social networking.

It was launched in the top 4 American Universities – Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Yale. The MVP was tested on a segmented audience for a year and later released in the market for everyone.

MVP is a first version of a product with the core functionalities.

Developing an MVP helps to assess whether the prospective customers are willing to buy the product and gather feedback from the customers to choose the right direction for further product development.

Reader’s Insight

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