For startups, creating an MVP (minimum viable product) is a key step for quickly validating an idea. An MVP is a basic early version of your product with just enough core features to be usable by early users.
In this guide, we’ll explore different types of MVPs startups can create. We’ll also walk through strategies for designing and launching an MVP to gain crucial feedback as you iterate.
Why Build an MVP?
Instead of spending months or years building a full product before launching, startups should create a minimum viable product – aka MVP. This is a super basic, stripped-down version that focuses only on the core features needed to test if users want your idea. MVPs let startups validate concepts way faster than finished products.
MVPs cost a lot less to make since they cut out nice-to-have features users may not even care about anyway. Startups can find out if they’re on the right track before sinking major time and money into full development. MVPs also reveal the must-have features that matter to users versus extras. Products can pivot rapidly based on user feedback from MVP experiments before committing to one permanent direction.
Overall, MVPs kickstart the learning process and confirm that you’ve got a solid idea people want. No need to build a flawless product first – optimize to learn. If you’re looking for guidance on creating an MVP, consider using a minimum viable product template to streamline the process.
Types of Minimum Viable Products
Common types of MVPs include:
Landing Page MVP
A basic one-page website with a signup form or contact info describing the concept. Helps assess interest before any product development.
Explainer Video MVP
A video demoing the product value proposition and key features to gauge user interest.
Wizard of Oz MVP
Demo the interface but simulate backend processes manually behind the scenes. This fakes a working product.
Offer highly manual customized service to a small set of early users to test product-market fit.
Build a very basic end-to-end version with minimal functionality across all steps of the customer journey.
Develop only one core product feature to usefulness and satisfaction before adding more features.
Choose the fastest MVP style to effectively validate your riskiest hypotheses.
Best Practices for Designing MVPs
When creating MVPs, make sure to:
Focus totally on just the functionality needed to test the product’s core purpose and get user feedback – nothing fancy. Completely prioritize only the 1 or 2 make-or-break features required and cut out everything else.
Build the MVP to best collect data on how people use it and what they think – like surveys, usage logs, and feedback questions. Assume your starting product theories need to be corrected! Be ready to make big changes to the MVP based on what users say.
Let testers know it’s an experimental early version so they understand the basic experience. For features you can’t build quickly, simulate them through videos or manual processes.
The purpose of MVPs is to speed up learning, not having a polished product. Keep things lean and focused on testing hypotheses.
Unlocking MVP Strategies for Your Startup
There are various Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategies to test your startup idea, even if you don’t have a fully developed product. Landing pages are a straightforward MVP. Create a concise and descriptive page, highlighting how your product solves user problems with simple language, customer reviews, visuals, and clear calls to action. Consider including basic price details, features, and surveys for user feedback.
Explainer videos are another great MVP. Script a customer journey, use storyboards and mockups, emulate successful tech brand styles, and quantify the benefits of your solution. Encourage viewers to visit your landing page and gauge their interest.
The “Wizard of Oz” MVP technique involves creating polished product screens and flows, while manually handling operations behind the scenes, testing the user experience without a fully developed product.
Concierge MVPs provide customized 1-on-1 services for early users. Tailor solutions based on direct feedback, refine offerings and look for common patterns to shape a scalable product. This approach explores product-market fit when a repeatable solution isn’t immediately evident.
These MVP strategies help you validate your startup concept before extensive development.
Optimizing Testing and Validating MVPs
To maximize MVP learnings:
Define key hypotheses – What core assumptions about customer needs or behaviors are you testing in the MVP?
Determine metrics – What data signals will validate if hypotheses prove true or false?
Recruit ideal user profiles – Seek a small set of users fitting your target segment.
Set expectations – Communicate it is an early test product to gather input.
Observe actual usage – Analytics to see if people use and engage with the MVP as expected.
Gather feedback – Surveys, interviews, and verbatims to gauge interest, satisfaction, and struggles.
Assess iteratively – Rapidly incorporate learnings into the next MVP.
MVPs should align to clear hypotheses and metrics to maximize validated learnings.
Moving Beyond MVP to Scaled Product
How do you know when to evolve beyond MVP experiments into full product development?
- Key assumptions and hypotheses are consistently validated by metrics
- Problem-solution fit appears validated by target users based on feedback
- Rates like activation, retention, and engagement match expected benchmarks
- Qualitative user feedback indicates high satisfaction with the core value delivered
- Confidence is high enough in the proposed direction to justify greater investment
Use MVP results to justify committing major time and resources to productization. Until clear validation, keep testing and iterating rapidly.
Common MVP Pitfalls to Avoid
Steer clear of these missteps:
- No clear goal or hypotheses were defined for the experiments
- Features beyond the minimum to test value proposition
- Artificial user testing that lacks realism
- Limited instrumentation to capture clear, validated learnings
- No criteria for moving from MVP to a scalable product
- Assuming you have a problem-solution fit without evidence
- Fear of releasing an imperfect, unfinished product
Stay strategic. MVPs that stray from core principles waste resources and teach little.
Recap and Key Recommendations
- Leverage MVPs to validate concepts with minimal time and money first.
- Numerous lightweight and low-fidelity MVP styles exist like videos and landing pages.
- Focus ruthlessly only on the core features required to test the riskiest hypotheses.
- Instrument and run experiments to maximize learnings from each MVP.
- Iterate rapidly based on feedback before committing to productization.
Avoid building extensive products upfront. Optimize for validated learning – that is the purpose of MVPs in the product journey.
How long should an MVP take to create?
Plan MVPs that can realistically be tested with users in 1-6 weeks. Longer suggests unnecessary scope.
Can I launch an MVP without coding?
Yes, options like landing pages, videos, and manual concierge services require no code. Focus on testing value.
What metrics indicate my MVP is working?
Site visits, signups, engagement, repeat use, attention span, NPS scores, usage analytics, and churn data offer actionable indicators of resonating value.
How many users should test my MVP?
Start very small, with 5-50 ideal users. Only broaden after the riskiest assumptions are validated and product direction confirmed.
MVPs enable startups to validate direction quickly with real user data. Ruthlessly focus them on testing the riskiest hypotheses before serious product investment. Utilize multiple lightweight MVPs to accelerate learning and innovation.