Minimal Viable Product

It is an unfortunate fact that up to nine out of ten start-ups fail before they get the opportunity to show their true worth. There can be any number of factors that cause this, but the most common is not having the correct product. A top design team, technical back up and a marketing guru are no guarantee of success if the market does not want or need the product. The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) process is an invaluable tool in reducing the chances of failure and arguably, an essential element in the building a new product.

The Minimum Value Product Process

As suggested in the title, the MVP is not necessarily a product, more a process to refine and realise a marketable product. Many start-ups brainstorm an idea, deciding what they think the public want to buy, and building an MVP without carrying out the required research and tests. A skeleton built product emerges that is probably half of what the team wanted, but the best that they could come up with in a limited time and budget. The outcome is usually failure.

An MVP initially works on the minimum risk strategy. What is the minimum that can be designed to test the theory. It does not necessarily need to be a physical product. A worked out concept can, and probably should be the first part of an MVP. The important fact is that assumptions should not be made and testing the concept with minimal financial outlay is the first logical step. The only way to test the product or concept is to put it in front of the target audience. There is a defined process for achieving this goal.

  • What risks am I taking?
  • What is the minimum I can do to display the concept or product?

For example, it may be possible to show the concept on paper initially or a simple mock-up, and begin by showing it to a focus group or target audience. Take the data from this initial release and build from the data provided. However, the process is not a one off, it is a continual evolvement at each stage of the product development. Building the next stage at minimal risk and testing again. There is no given limit to how many times the process should be performed. The result will be a product that has evolved through a series of market tests, failures and successes, but the process does not end with the design of a viable product.

Marketing

The processes that have been used to bring the project to fruition can be applied to all aspects of the product launch. In any campaign, a competent marketing strategy is essential and using the same basic rules will minimise the risk of spending valuable advertising budget in the wrong area.

  • What risks am I taking?
  • What is the minimum I can do to display the concept or product?

In the case of a low budget start-up, finances for advertising and marketing the new product are likely to be in short supply, so the process of minimising initial risk and testing the response makes financial sense.

In conclusion, the Minimal Viable Product is a tool. Use it well, and give your start-up the best chance of success.

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