The following lesson is part of Turnip’s 2-Week Entrepreneurship Course. You can register for the course at no-charge here: turnip.co.in/entrepreneurship-course
Now that you have done some market research, interviewed potential customers and firmed up your idea, it is time to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
It is very hard to talk to prospects if you don’t have anything to show. An industry professional will give you time out of goodwill to answer market research questions. But if you can put something in front of them, they will talk to you with rigour and excitement.
What is a Minimum Viable Product?
An MVP is your first product release with only the most critical features (that work!)
Your MVP can be a natural extension of speaking to potential customers. Customise an offering for only one customer, for only the most urgent and presumably useful features.
💡 Don’t mistake an MVP for something that is low quality or half cooked. The idea is to make less but make great!
Why build an MVP?
The goal of the MVP is to receive valuable feedback. This will determine the future direction of your startup, your customer validation and product development process.
Please re-read the above statement! “The goal of the MVP is to receive valuable feedback.”
The goal is:
- NOT to generate profits
- NOT to think about the final product
- NOT to think about scalability
Sure, if you can sell a paid trial with your MVP, that’s great to keep startup finances ticking. But the only focus should be to recruit the first users for your offering.
Once people use your product, you will know if and how much customers are willing to pay.
Early user feedback can save you months or years of aimless product development. It’s easier to pivot early than if you have heavily invested in your product.
REAL validation will happen when people use your product. Your startup grind is just about to begin! 🙂
How long does it take to build an MVP?
The answer is: “not 2 years.”
Ideally, your MVP should only take a few weeks to build (except if you are in an industry where there is heavy regulation and long product lifecycles like banking, biotech, manufacturing, etc.)
The founders of AirBnB, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, used their own apartment to validate their idea of peer-to-peer rentals. They created a basic website and posted pictures of their property. They targeted tech conference attendees at a single conference and found three people who were willing to pay $80 per night.
Even after that they did not start building a product for everybody. Their target audience, at first, were similar to themselves, that is hosts who lived near high profile events. They continuously made small iterations to keep building on user feedback.
Check out the story of AirBnB’s MVP: https://fueled.com/blog/airbnb-mvp/
As a fun exercise, I would like you to check out the first versions of Twitter, the well know social media service: https://www.firstversions.com/2015/07/twitter.html
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.”
Some Don’t’s about MVPs
- Don’t worry about scaling. Only think about being useful to one or few users.
- Don’t fall in love with your MVP! Think about the problems it can solve.
- Don’t build new features in isolation without customer feedback.
- Don’t think about launching big. MVP is not the time to do press releases or give media interviews!
- Don’t be inflexible about user feedback. Stay open minded.
- Don’t just execute, execute, execute. Learn and discover!
“Build it and they will come”
An MVP will cause you to spend substantial amount of time doing outreach. You will have to cold call/email potential users, send DMs on LinkedIn or Twitter, schedule meetings and much more.
You will also realise that several followups are needed to get feedback. You might have to come across as slightly annoying too. But all this will teach you that “Build it and they will come” is the biggest startup myth ever! You and your team will have to be the engine that drives user growth!
We are just beginning the course, so see you tomorrow!