A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is: "[the] version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort" — Eric Ries.

What makes a good Minimum Viable Product?

Have you (or has anyone you know) failed with “Build it and they will come.”?

I’m currently reading The Lean Startup in preparation for us developing a software product which will make content marketing both easier to learn and easier to do on a day to day basis.

While I know there is need for a better and cheaper software tool, I’m making assumptions about what features and capabilities people really need.

What the MVP is

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is how you test your assumptions, make adjustments as needed, and test again.

Per Eric Reis, the founder of The Lean Startup concept…..

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is: “[the] version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”

What is “validated learning”?

This is best explained by two examples from the book which I read just this morning.

The first is a big example (and is beyond the budgets of startups). The second is a small example which is well within the budget of every small business and startup.

I provide these two extremes to illustrate that the idea of “validated learning” is NOT confined to software businesses.

Let me reiterate now that the purpose of the MVP is to provide the great amount of validated learning with the least amount of effort.

The Big Example

Toyota appointed a new Chief Engineer to oversee the redesign of the Toyota Sienna mini van for the upcoming 2005 model. His name is Yuki Yokoya.  Yuki had very little experience in North America which is the primary marketing for this vehicle.

So Yuki came to North America and embarked on the most audacious road trip. Every part of Mexico. All 50 US states, and all 13 Canadian provinces and territories. He made the trip by renting Sienna’s, driving them for a while, turning them in, and renting new ones. More than 53,000 miles in total.

He talked to people about Sienna’s. Owners, sales people, rental agencies, etc. He took notes on what they like and what they didn’t.

He learned that although minivans are owned by parents, they’re bought for kids. Kids determine what features parents need.

Sales of 2005 Sienna’s were 60% higher than sales of 2004 Sienna’s.

This extreme example of validated learning paid off.

The Small Example

Dropbox entered a crowded market. Potential investors were not excited about a cloud storage solution when the existing ones were not making money. The founder and CEO (Drew Houston) had made an assumption that cloud storage would be adopted when the use of it was seamless and obvious.

While the potential investors had used cloud storage software, no one felt any of them were seamless. Still they saw no potential in the market niche.

Drew created an MVP which was A VIDEO. A screen cast video, but a video.

I feel that last sentence needs emphasis. The MVP was NOT software. I’m guessing they had to create enough software for it to look like a real software product, but it was a mock up. It may have looked easy to use, but it didn’t actually do anything.

They put the video on their website and shared it.

Their beta list grew from 5,000 to 75,000 overnight.

Through this inexpensive video they validated their assumptions.

This point is so important let me re-emphasize it. The initial MVP for Dropbox was an inexpensive video. They built the software AFTER they had evidence of a market.

What’s your MVP?

How do these ideas fit into your business plans?

Now for our little pitch

We’re developing a better cheaper software tool to make content marketing (sometimes called inbound marketing) both easier to learn and easier to do.

For what are hopefully obvious reasons we will provide a WordPress client (in the form of a plugin) first.

If you’ve heard of the marketing potential of inbound marketing, but have found it difficult to do, you’ll want to learn more about this tool.

To do so, please add your self to our beta list via the button below.

Add me

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