Defining Your Startup's Minimum Viable Product: Part 1

By Pete Czech

Defining Your Startup's Minimum Viable Product: Part 1New Possibilities Group

Startup Minimum Viable Product

What do Frank Robinson, Steve Blank, and Eric Ries have to do with your business?

It's time to define your MVP, baby!

Seriously, though, it is time to define your startup’s minimum viable product (MVP). Coined by Robinson and popularized by Blank and Ries, MVP is the product with the highest possible return on investment compared to the associated risks.

Your MVP solves the core customer problem your startup intends to address in a way that allows you to make it available for sale quickly. Once that stage is done, you can begin to receive feedback on how to improve your product and which additional features to invest in first. By defining your MVP, you are honing in on the minimum product you can provide that will deliver the best return on your investment, both financially and critically.

So where do you start?

Answer the Basic Questions


What problem are you trying to solve? Whose problem is it? Of those people, who are you most trying to serve? What basic/fundamental/core solution do you intend to offer?

Peek at the Big Picture


Chances are, you started down this path because you're passionate about something. Are your passions satisfied with your answers to the basic questions? If so, what gets your fire burning the most? If not, what is missing that would light your spark?

Can you fuel up your MVP with enough passion to keep you going?

Sketch Out Your Solution


Using the answers to your basic questions and your own personal passion, sketch out what the solution would look like for your customers. Keep it as simple as possible without losing sight of the problem and solution you’ll be offering.

Web Design & Development For Small Business

Flesh Out Your Offering


Build-it-and-they-will-come philosophies are all very well, but most products and services need at least some marketing to launch them into the marketplace.

For example, consider Scale My Business's MVP list, which includes an explainer video, a landing page, a "Wizard of Oz" or "Flinstoning" style product functionality or a concierge style service functionality (or a blend of the two), a crowdfunding approach that allows you to sell it before you build it, and a single-feature focus.

Which of these MVP attributes function as marketing? Absolutely all of them. Simply put, your MVP will be highly market-focused to generate the funds you need to go all-out with your development dreams.

Hone Your Site


By starting your business with a MVP, you know you will be releasing your site in stages, starting with the most minimal startup website possible. You need to deliver the solution to a core problem. You need to use your site to successfully market your solution. You need a way to collect feedback from your customers.

Every aspect of your initial website should be focused on one or more of these three purposes. Eliminate anything and everything that doesn't have to be there to achieve an initial profit.

Leverage Expertise


If you've ever started up a business before, you know you usually start with either time or money. If you have the money, you hire the experts to do whatever it is that you don't know how to do. If you don't, then you spend your time learning how to do it yourself.

Most businesses that start without the money never become viable. There are exceptions—there always are—but the sad truth is that most businesses need to leverage someone else's expertise to succeed.

If your website is your MVP, then you need to leverage the expertise of a talented, economical design and development team (like us!) to pull it off. An MVP site is going to be more affordable than you might think. After all, that's the whole point of going with a MVP.

Build Your MVP


Keep the minimalistic approach going as you build your MVP. Resist the temptation to add things in because you can. Keeping it simple in the beginning not only allows you to make your startup effort more affordable, it also empowers you with valuable feedback as you pursue additional developments.

As much as you may know about what you want to do, you don't know enough to know what your customers will want you to do next. Keep in mind that the feedback you receive is likely to be more valuable in the long run than the sales that precede the feedback.

Remember, it’s easy to want to see the final, finished product of your startup right away, but success takes time and careful growth. With a minimum viable product, you’ll have the chance to cultivate and hone your efforts from an informed perspective, allowing you to get it done—and get it right.

Tomorrow, we'll dive further into getting things right on your startup's website, especially when it is your MVP. Stay tuned!

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