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How to make a Minimum Viable Product? Step by step guide

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The launch of an idea to the market represents a critical moment that can define your success or failure. Based on the lean startup model , design thinking and agile methodology, a minimum viable product is an initial proposal that serves to test the functionality and reception of a project.

 

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In this article, I will tell you what it is and how to apply it effectively.

What is a minimum viable product

Launching a new product or service on the market can be a risk calculated using the Lean Startup method. Indicated not only for startups, but for different types of ventures; Its process leads you to the creation of a minimum viable product (PMV), which is a first functional version of your idea and which helps you understand its viability .

According to Eric Ries , creator of this methodology, the MVP (minimal viable product) consists of a prototype made with minimal effort and that allows you to gather as much data from potential customers. The approach of a minimum viable product (MVP) is nothing other than quickly validating a hypothesis, learning as much as possible and guiding you on the right path.

Another definition of the concept is that of Brant Cooprer , who emphasizes that the pvm must have a basic functionality that will later be improved through an iterative process. This means that you must create an initial model with a limited budget, minimum characteristics to achieve a specific objective and that potential buyers want to pay for it.

What is the use of making an MVP

As I have already mentioned, the mvp is used to develop a minimally functional product that provides you immediate value without skyrocketing costs. Starting with this type of prototype allows you to learn more about the target user, the market in which you intend to establish yourself, and check if your hypotheses are true.

We can summarize what you can achieve with this agile methodology as follows:

  • Get better feedback from your users (real customers).
  • Build a prototype, measure its viability, learn and iterate, in a short space of time.
  • Reduce validation risks through constant feedback and different tests.
  • Better use your budget by accelerating the development of a functional product and investing in low-cost techniques.
  • Validate your hypotheses about the problem, the solution and the market with your product or service efficiently.

Advantages of developing a minimum viable product

Using the principles of the Lean Startup model, the Agile method and Design Thinking, you can more accurately validate the risks associated with a product launch and reduce the economic impact of any failed attempts. Many unicorn companies that have become part of our lives are clear examples of this methodology and its main benefits:

  • Focus on building the core of your idea . It must be understood that the creation of a PMV fulfills the fulfillment of a main idea that does not include other additional plans. In addition, if the product has most of the necessary features, this makes it cheaper to develop and reduces the risks of validation.
  • Get started quickly with your project . The sooner you can validate your hypothesis, the easier it will be for you to accelerate your startup launch. This is because this system allows you to test, receive feedback, adjust and rehearse again in a very short time. Through a series of one-off iterations and alpha / beta testing, you lay the foundations for a PMV with enough acceptance to get the funding that allows for an accelerated release.
  • Better invest your money and your resources . The development of a good minimum viable product follows the guidelines of design thinking. This means spending a limited budget to find out if your idea will have the necessary support to succeed. Based on the above, acceleration through a logical and iterative design also reduces development costs. If you can make a functional prototype that doesn’t require so many subsequent modifications, you can better manage your resources.
  • Change the concept of the product . Considering the proposals of agile systems, the development and realization of a minimal viable product serves to better direct the ideas of the project. Through feedback from small focus groups and testing with early adopters, you gain a better perspective on how effectively you are solving the problem. Essays and opinions allow you to go back, correct and take a different direction if necessary.
  • Find your audience . One of the first requirements to have an effective MPV is to find the target audience that can benefit from your project. All the steps in this process are aimed at solving the problem of a target audience that you must determine before proceeding. To the extent that your product or service takes into account the needs of users, it will be more likely to occupy a place in the market.

How to create a minimum viable product

Building an MPV is a feasible task as long as you focus on the premises of the process. It does not mean having a perfect product in months or years, but rather testing a prototype with a low budget and that you can easily modify on the fly. To achieve this progressive and effective scaling, you must follow this process :

1. Identify and understand business and market needs

The first step in creating a minimum viable product requires you to identify if there really is a need for it to be on the market. It may be a business or personal deficiency that is not being addressed. It is also essential that you focus on evaluating your direct competitors to understand their business model .

In this sense, there are 2 key aspects that you should take into account :

The problem you are looking to solve

To be successful in a venture and the creation of an MVP, it is necessary to validate the main hypothesis of your plan . To put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you need to ask yourself 2 basic questions:

  1. How can this product or service help me?
  2. Why do I need this product or service?

By answering these questions, you will find the essence of your product or service and the best solutions for future market needs.

Potential customers are considered as the target audience, who will be your early adopters or potential buyers . That is why it is important to find the problem you want to solve based on this target audience. You can do this by thinking about your own personal challenges, evaluating if there is a better way or if there is a need for a certain tool that you can create. You can also observe the needs in certain market segments.

As an example, we can mention Uber’s business model . At first, their app was intended for hiring premium black cars in some cities. Although this could be construed as expensive, it was actually the opposite. His intention was to allow people who could not afford these vehicles, hire this type of service at an affordable price.

Competency assessment

It doesn’t matter how unique or great your product or service is; You will have to evaluate the competition and look for solutions in the market whose characteristics are similar . Entrepreneurs often believe that their pvm is so unique that such analysis is not necessary. Don’t fall into this subjective trap, because you will still need objective risk validation for a successful launch .

For this important work, you have a series of online tools that provide you with valuable information about your competitors. Researching their portals or apps, you can find out what their ranking is, monthly traffic, sources that generate said traffic, geographical location and other relevant data. This can be done with the help of App Annie or SensorTower (for apps), Similar Web, ahrefs, Semrush (SEO and AdWords keywords and traffic), QuantCast, Google Trends, ..

You also have the ability to search for comments, reviews, or opinions about your competitors’ products or services. The objective of this analysis is that you can create a minimum viable product that takes into account the shortcomings of existing solutions. On the other hand, this helps you to capture some ideas that you had not considered and that you can put into practice by giving them your own interpretation.

2. Map the User Journey (s)

To have a successful minimum viable product it is essential to keep the end user in mind . If you want to ensure that your target audience approves of your first iteration, you need to map user behavior. So you have a perspective from their point of view from the moment they know the product until you make the sale.

Similarly, the design of the user journey and the definition of the actions necessary to meet the objectives ensures that you have the process under control while promoting customer satisfaction at every step. To achieve effective user journeys, you need 3 main factors:

  • Identify the user person . First, you need to ask yourself who are the ones who are going to use your product. There is the possibility that the answer to this question generates several categories to locate the user person. For example, if you are creating an application to offer a home beauty service, you have applicants and employees.
  • Establish actions (jobs) . These tasks are the actions that the user person must do so that the story unfolds until the end and you achieve the objective. When designing the minimum viable product, you should focus on those who have the most jobs. However, you may need to address other priorities, so you may have to serve multiple different users or customers.
  • Determine the endings of the stories (story endings) . Each user person must have their own map that indicates the development of their story from beginning to end and which reveals the goal of this: to hire the service or buy the product .

In this box we show you what a consumer journey of an online application looks like, in a general way:

Analysis of a consumer journey of an online service
Look for Evaluate To experience To buy To hold back
How are your customers finding you? Where do they come from beyond your website? What are the details of your solution? How does it compare to other options? How can customers interact with your solution before investing money? What are the steps to buy?

Do customers start with a free trial period?

How do customers get ongoing support?
Consumer goals
Find a solution to your problem Determine if this alternative is the best option to meet the needs Deciding if this solution is worth paying for Get access to all features and benefits based on your chosen plan Get customer service when needed and ongoing support
Contact points
Google Study cases Test records Purchase page Help Center
LinkedIn Pricing page or blog articles Product tour
Twitter FAQ page Account creation Checkout Contact for customer service

 

You already have the process by which the user could opt for your application, to solve their problem. In other words, become a customer. Now we are going to be more granular , we will see the process that the user performs to solve their problems and with which things they would not be satisfied (pain) and with which they would be (profit).

3. Make a pain and gain map

The next step in this guide to making a viable product is to create a pain and gain map for each action . This resource allows you to identify all the points of concern and the solutions that the user obtains each time you determine them. This method allows you to find those aspects to which you could add more value to your pmv and leave the less important ones for future improvements.

Example: How Grammarly came up with the idea of ​​developing its extension for Chrome

The English proofreading tool  Grammarly  has accumulated nearly 20 million users since 2008. The key to their success is that they managed to turn their product from a tool that people occasionally use into an everyday companion.

Grammarly’s original product allowed you to correct spelling mistakes when copying and pasting text into your text editor.

We are going to develop this point a little more with an example, so you can see the whole process:

  • Context: the user is at their computer at work and needs to send an important email in English.
  • Motivation:  This user was recently hired and is eager to make a good impression on his boss. First of all, you are nervous about sending an email with spelling or typographical errors to a major foreign customer, making you seem careless or lazy.
  • Pain points  : “It’s easy to miss a silly mistake when you’re correcting your own writing.”
  • Mental Models –  The user wants to feel confident that the final draft of their email is well written and error-free, even though they feel nervous and error prone He does not want to ask anyone on his team to check his email to his boss, because he feels uncomfortable and wastes too much time.

The user’s journey map for this user could be the following:

Timeline Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3
Point of concern The user does not want to correct their text or have someone else on their team do it. The user wants to make sure that all errors are corrected for his final text. The user needs to pass the corrected text to an email.
Contact point The user discovers that Grammarly can find the errors in the text for him.  

The user can view notes on contextual spelling and style errors as Grammarly identifies them. This ensures that your faults go beyond a simple misprint.

When you copy and paste the writing it does not capture some words from the end. He sends it like this without realizing it and is frustrated by the omission.
Channel Web Application Web Application Web Application
Experience Positive.

The user found what he needed.

Positive.

The process is quite thorough.

Negative.

The copy and paste process partly negated the benefits of the fix.

This type of negative experience could discourage users from stopping using Grammarly, as it adds a lot of friction. Every time the user wants to correct something, they have to open Grammarly and copy and paste, resulting in a large margin of error and waste of time.

Grammarly fixed this by launching a Chrome web extension . Enabling the extension would allow Grammarly to correct the text wherever the user was typing within this browser. (Emails, contact forms, google docs, …)

Now your product can help a user to write well in English in any situation. This is how Grammarly switched from a product that people used occasionally to one that was constantly needed.

The business model of Grammarly revolves around getting people to start using the free version of the product through the extension of the browser, and then to update their plans through the web application. Therefore, moving users between platforms is critical to the success of the brand.

4. Decide what features of the PVM you want to incorporate

At this point in the creation of the minimum viable product, you can already distinguish the essential characteristics of the initial model, as well as the less relevant ones that you are going to include in the product roadmap. Keep in mind that adding too many user-requested features can damage your experience and detract from the purpose of this process.

If you want to have a successful MPV, we leave you some fundamental considerations:

Needs vs. wishes

Once you have chosen the user person on which to focus your business model , you must ask yourself what needs to be included in a PVM. In order not to deviate from the path, you have to ask yourself: Does the user want this function to solve their problem or do they really need it to solve their problem?

While desires are those characteristics that will convince the customer to try what you offer, needs are the essential characteristics of the service or product . If you are not sure if something will be used or how often, it is a wish.

You know that you have a good minimal viable product when you cover all the needs and most desires to validate your hypothesis. The choice of needs will depend on an immediate differentiation from the rest, so the MVP must be focused on what is essential to begin the rehearsals.

Break down the functions to include in your product roadmap

As you establish the steps that the consumer must take to make use of your product, it is convenient to create a list of particular functions for each stage. You can highlight those that would be nice to have, but are not strictly necessary.

Then it will be necessary to prioritize them, which is achieved through the following process:

  • Ask yourself what is the most important action you expect from your prospects.
  • Ask yourself what other features you want to offer. Explain why you need each of them and cross out the most insignificant ones.
  • Now it is time to classify the remaining characteristics under the categories of “essential”, “it would be good to have them” and “they are not necessary”. The story mapping technique can make this procedure even easier for you. You can also use a horizontal matrix that shows each of the stages and within them the functions you have decided to include.
  • When you have added all the phases and associated characteristics, you can make a vertical line that indicates what is high priority and what is low priority. Now you can start arranging the functions according to their importance. Essential stories go up and those that don’t go down.
  • After prioritizing the features, you can begin to define your scope for the first version of the product and move on to building the PVM. If you want to see what your product would look like before it goes to market, you can make a prototype. After obtaining financing and validation of your idea, you proceed with the first minimum viable product.

5. Build, measure and learn

In this last step of this guide to making a minimum viable product, you put what you’ve accomplished so far to the test. This means that you should move on to development and, when this phase is almost finished, move on to rehearsals. The first stage of testing should be in charge of testers who make sure that everything works correctly. They guarantee that the product is ready for alpha and beta testing.

The alpha test can also be considered as a launch between friends and family, because it is intended for a small group discussion outside of the work context. When the product or service passes this stage, you can start with the beta test , which occurs in the real world and with potential consumers. This second trial takes 1-2 weeks to collect the data and estimate whether critical changes are needed for subsequent iterations.

People who interact with the product will tell you what is missing, what is left over, what they like or don’t like. This feedback serves to improve the PMV , retest it, learn and repeat this process as many times as necessary. In short, the construction of a minimum viable product has a variable cost that will depend on its complexity and resource management.

Examples of MVP in companies

The best way to illustrate the creation of a successful MVP is to refer to examples of minimum viable product from recognized companies that also apply this process. This also helps you to know what these companies focus on when it comes to developing design thinking.

Amazon

A peculiar story is how this leading retail company started selling books online to compete with the old publishers that were stagnant in the past. What they did was set up a page with a simple web design using the PMV model and in which they offered books at low cost. In 1994, this was enough to establish itself as a profitable retail business.

Dropbox

Before the launch of this startup , its co-founder and CEO Drew Houston was well aware of the vast number of services that cloud storage offered. For this reason, he decided to make an MVP through a short video that explained how his app works. This initiative fulfilled its mission, reaching the target audience it was looking for. In fact, they received +70 thousand emails from potential users in one day, validating the concept.

Groupon

The Groupon phenomenon had its roots in the reconceptualization of using coupons and vouchers as a platform for socializing. Before being an example of success, this company launched its website using WordPress and sending PDFs by email to those who were already subscribed. The tests of their minimal viable product gave good results, which led them to develop their voucher system, with a backend for companies that want to advertise, which is recognized throughout the world.

Facebook

Most know that the Facebook launch happened as an MVP trying to connect college and university students through a messaging system. The essential idea was for friends to use a social platform to meet and meet. In these first tests, its creators wanted to establish the minimum functionality to meet these objectives.

Based on this premise, they launched the application for early adopters to test it and thus get a good amount of opinions. The results were immediate and we are all aware of the popularity of this social network. Its success has resulted in 1.3 billion registered users.

Twitter

Another very popular social network, its creation arises from a very particular idea. After the launch of iTunes, the Odeon company suffered a severe blow. To find out how to stay on the market, they decided to organize so-called “hackatons”, in one of which the concept of an SMS-based platform was conceived.

Initially it was for internal use only and was known as “twttr”. However, there were several employees who were spending a good amount of money on messages to post on this platform to be tested with other users. The result was its launch in 2006 as Twitter and a year later it had become the 2nd most used social network worldwide.

Ways to apply a PMV

Along with these examples of a minimum viable product, there are several ways for you to implement this method derived from the Lean Startup method to achieve the expected objectives:

  • Wizard of Oz technique . It consists of developing manually and at low cost the most basic part of an online platform. The idea is that users think that you are doing automatic tests with the final product. Since you work manually, you can correct on the fly and study interactions based on the multiple comments you receive.
  • Crowdfunding test . Most crowdfunding sites have become recognized incubators for effective MPV development. Sites like Indigogo or Kickstater are used to get early adopters, who want to finance and make your startup or undertaking a reality. Among the many examples, there is Pebble, a watch that can be synchronized with your smartphone through an app and which raised $ 10 million in 6-8 weeks.
  • Smoke test . With this technique you only have to make a short explanatory video (maximum 3 min) that shows the differentiation of your product and the reasons for buying it. This was how Dropbox was born and also Shot & Shop, a visual search engine to buy clothes and accessories.
  • Use of landing page . It is perhaps the most basic way to get support to run a minimum viable product. On this landing page you have the opportunity to show how your product works, what problems it solves, and how it can benefit the target audience. The most important thing is to include a good value proposition, an effective CTA, and measure your progress with tools like Kissmetrics or Google Analytics.

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