Milagros ElhordoyApr 29, 2019

Importance of developing a Minimal Viable Product

MVP or Minimal Viable Product is the sine qua non of a good product. Nowadays, they had become an indispensable part of the product development process.

Here’s the problem:

Despite the concept’s ubiquitousness, the fact is, some businesses are still to familiarize themselves entirely with the concept’s goodness and so not surprisingly express a desire to launch a full-fledged product and not an MVP.

Before we dive deep into the nitty-gritty of MVP and its types, let first get a basic idea as to what MVP is all about.

MVP in a Nutshell

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a primary product rolled out with core functionalities, minus any bells and whistles.

An MVP comprises three fundamental characteristics:

  • It offers enough value that people will happily try it out
  • It comes with a feedback loop to guide future iterations
  • It includes only the core features to capture the attention of early adopters.

I am sure, you’ve heard of companies such as Uber, Dropbox, and Zappos. They were all launched as MVPs before building a reputation of themselves in the marketplace.

An MVP enables:

  • Early release of your product
  • Minimal costs for execution
  • Testing the demand before releasing a full-fledged product
  • Valuable insights as to what works and what won’t
  • Build a large user base

More than anything else, releasing an MVP will help you encounter and solve more problems and even learn new ideas that could strike you as interesting. Which means you will have more opportunities to drum up your business.

So, if you are a startup with a fantastic product idea- why wait, just MVP.

Here I’ve listed the most prominent types of MVPs that you could experiment with:

Piecemeal MVP

Piecemeal MVP is rolling out a product on a budget. The emphasis is mainly on using the available tools and solutions to deliver product or services. A piecemeal MVP consists mostly of components from diverse sources that are thrown together to create a foundation for your product.

For instance, if you are setting up a designer dress rental marketplace, then you could make use of popular marketplace platforms such as Sharetribe and Marketplacer instead of developing your marketplace from scratch.

Case Study: Groupon

In 2006 Andrew Mason and Eric Lefkofsky had started a do-gooder website called ‘The Point.’ The idea was to bring people together, on a single platform, and solve issues that might make the world a better place. The profit-motive was secondary.

Source: https://archive.org

But then, during the economic crisis of 2008, the founders seriously thought of making this side hustle into something really substantial. The Point became Groupon. The idea was to help people ‘Save Money’ by assisting them to opt for group discounts.

Simply put, round up 20 or so people who wants to have the same products and see if they could get group discounts. The employees started posting deals on them manually each day. When someone opted for a particular deal, the team would generate a PDF document and email them.

They didn’t think of developing a website from scratch or setting up a streamlined coupon system. On the contrary, they worked with whatever resources they had in hand and made a piecemeal MVP to test their product and see whether people would be interested in their offering. The rest as they is history. Today, Groupon is a world renowned brand with a turnover of US$2.84 billion.

If you study Groupon’s model closely, it’s a combination of two MVP models: Piecemeal and Wizard of OZ (more on this later).

Concierge MVP

Concierge MVP focuses on manual testing. And the entire process of product testing is carried out by humans.

Let’s say you want to launch a new organic food delivery service. And considering that you are putting Concierge MVP into motion, you will have to first look for people who will be ready to sample your organic food.

Once you have a list of people who’d like to try out your organic food, your next step should be to deliver the products by hand. That is, you need to hire someone or you, on your own, should take care of the delivery part. Plus, the data analyzes part and the feedback part too.

Once you have enough customers on board, you could think of creating an app that analyzes data, collects people’s feedback, and matches products automatically.

In short, in Concierge MVP helps you validate your business idea by offering services manually before automating it. The best part: You can do this without building a product as humans are involved in every stage of product delivery. And given that you personally interact with customers, it will help you understand the customer needs better, which in turn help you in the iteration process.

Case Study: Food on the Table

Author Eric Ries talks about ‘Food on the Table,’ a grocery shopping service in his book Lean Startup. In this case, the founder personally gets involved in figuring out what customers like to eat and then compiles a shopping list of specific stores that will help them save the most. But then he didn’t stop here! The founder also scrounged for coupons and compiled shopping lists for his early customers.

Wizard of Oz MVP

While Concierge MVP follows a people-powered model and is open about the fact the product is still in the WIP mode, a Wizard of Oz MVP, on the other hand, focuses on creating a larger-than-life impression about the product in the first place. Simply put, it tries to convey to the users that the product is a real deal, though it’s in the primary stages.

‘Wizard of Oz’-type MVPs is also referred as “Manual-first MVPs” or “Flintstoning MVPs.”

Case Study: Zappos

Zappos is a Wizard of OZ MVP. The founder Nick Swinmurn is said to have taken pictures of products at brick-and-mortar stores and posted them on the internet to find out if people really wanted to buy shoes online. The idea worked, and today Zappos is known globally with billion dollars in yearly revenue. The platform was eventually acquired by Amazon for $880 million.

Summing it up

Use the piecemeal model when your budget is, and you don’t want to build things from scratch.

Use the Concierge MVP when you’re are still not sure about your user concerns and want to have an insider view about your product from customers. It’s a people-powered model of testing.

Use the Wizard of Oz MVP when you want to evaluate your customer base without the involvement of humans.

Author bio: This is Jennifer Warren, staff writer at GoodFirms a review and research platform for top ecommerce development companies, digital marketing companies, app development companies among many others. A bookworm at heart, I have successfully guest blogged for top sites such as Crazyegg, Semrush, Searchenginepeople, Sitepronews, Volusion.com, Socialnomics, Jeffbullas, mediapost among others.