5 Misunderstandings about MVPs
I believe the concept of an “MVP” (or minimally viable product) is both one of the most powerful concepts for entrepreneurs thinking through their product strategy and also one of the most misunderstood / misused terms by entrepreneurs today.
If you’ve heard me talk about the decision at Birchemere to encourage our founders to talk about their minimally awesome products you know this is not a new theme for me. It’s the first misunderstanding listed below.
I threw together a quick deck over the weekend (embedded from slideshare below) on the five most common misunderstandings around MVPs. In no specific order they are:
- Viable ≠ Crappy: Remember things that are ugly or confusing may introduce false positives or negatives into the hypothesis you are looking to test.
- Not a destination: At least a few times a week I meet with an entrepreneur who has a “six to nine month roadmap until they launch their MVP”. Just because you call it an MVP doesn’t mean it isn’t a launch. The idea is that you end up having multiple iterations that test different core assumptions about your business based on different customer interactions.
- Should validate or invalidate key hypothesis: Rarely is the most critical hypothesis - can we build X. Remember, most startups fail because no one wants what they built not because they couldn’t build it.
- Doesn’t have to be a product at all: Often one of the most powerful early “MVPs” is a simple sketch or “paper prototype” that you can walk prospects through.
- Not always a landing page: I love the concept of building a landing page and driving some prospects to the page to test different assumptions. However, this is one of many techniques and not a silver bullet.
Just remember Eric defined an MVP as:
“that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”