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When we see a successful startup, we often fancy their road to success to be like a straight line, an arrow striking directly at the target. In reality, in a case of a wrong initial defining of the purpose or design of the app, it could easily turn into a disaster. But how can one protect oneself from the risk of an unclaimed product development? Let’s talk about the MVP and its scope as an efficient method to involve users in the creation of a new product.

Why Do Startups Need MVP?

Today startups increasingly use Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to start learning from the feedback before going deep into the design and software development. Even more, there are fields in which an MVP creation is a must, for example, Artificial Intelligence solutions (AI apps) that consider basic thinking activity modeling.

MVP is a product that provides only the most essential features and still delivers customer value. It is the largest possible cut-off copy of the product you have conceived, the primary purpose of which is to check whether the proposed product is worth for the user and can bring revenue. It is a tool to prove the initial product concept that can be shared among the users to see how they will react.

It seems clear that it is better to spend a couple of weeks to create a software MVP and learn that the concept works or fails than to lose months in the development of a useless product. That’s why any project requires verification at the early stages of development.

Besides, cooperation between developers and users results in a fast feedback that increases the maturity of the product directly affecting its further success. And if brought together with well planned and controlled financing, the MVP is the right solution for startups.

The Build-Measure-Learn Loop

The process of MVP can be explained as a Trial-and-Error development:

Prototype   >   Prove the concept   >   Learn and then repeat.

Every startup considers assumptions, and the first and the most doubtful of them is that users need such a product.

Potentially, that could be the biggest mistake of a startup! 42% of startups fail because of lack of understanding of demand and marketing of the product. On the other hand, it is hard to know whether the idea works without releasing a product. That is why it is better to launch a minimal scope of the product first, listen to feedback from the market and follow the needs of users.

The main idea of MVP consists of two major steps:

1. Define your riskiest assumption;
2. Run the smallest experiment to prove or disprove it.

“Time to market” is a crucial aspect of new startups and products. There is an opinion that the one who makes mistakes quickly gets fastest wins. It is known as “fail fast” or “speed wins.” In any case, whatever they call it, it works.

To come up with an example, let’s imagine we are building a web solution that gives an opportunity to users to run a simple web shop. Therefore, we consider a user-friendly interface and vast opportunities for design customization as a major feature of the application. We create an MVP to get feedback from potential users of our application.

What if we get a result that users are not likely to use our web application because most of them expect to see a simple mobile app with one-click order and payment, and they don’t care about the design customization. Wouldn’t you correct your plans regarding the product’s scope and features?

This build-measure-learn loop of determining the riskiest assumption and creating the smallest experiment for its verification should not stop during the whole product lifecycle.

How to define the proper scope of the MVP?

Sometimes, an MVP is an easy solution. The MVP can be just a screenshot of the application, a landing page, a description of the idea, anything to get early feedback from the app’s audience. As the story says, Dropbox found its way to tackle the question of market viability in sharing just a video explanation of how their product will work. Soon after its launch, the number of subscribers increased from 5000 people to 75000, vividly showing that its infrastructure is worth to invest in.

Still, if you need more than just an explanation of the future product to measure the feedback then define a proper scope of MVP.

The simplest way to determine the scope of your MVP is to concentrate on product’s unique features. Why should users choose exactly your app and not one of the tons of others? What are the unique features they need or like first of all?

In software development projects a story mapping technique is widely used to choose the minimal scope of functions required for MVP. Let’s get on with the online shop app example:

First of all, you need to formulate a purpose of the product, let us say, to let users run a mobile shop quickly. Based on that we can outline the basic user flow of the application like the following:

Create a mobile shop,
Customize it,
Upload goods,
Get a payment,
Get reports,
Run marketing campaigns.

At next step, each of these use cases will be decomposed to a more detailed list of features prioritized by business value. The MVP will probably include only those use cases that are a must for the mobile shop operation such as Create a mobile shop, Upload goods and Get a payment.

With MVP users can try it and get back to you with comments and ideas so that you can correct the long-term vision of the product development.

Again, keep it simple at this stage! Airbnb’s founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, first created a simple website to open up their loft as cheap accommodation. After communicating with a few guests, they formulated the concept of a resource we know today.

At Edgica, we agree with the paradigm that users are more likely to buy products in which development they participate. Indeed, wouldn’t you purchase a product or service after you influenced its concept, design, and behavior? We bet you would!

MVP is a major step of startup’s development and its success. And we are ready to support you along that way. Just drop us a line.

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