Lesson Five: The MVP


MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, and it’s essentially a very scaled down version of your product. Your MVP will consist of only the most essential features necessary to attract early-adopters and validate your product idea.

Many people are surprised by the fact that we don’t recommend attempting to build an entire app in one fell swoop - not only would  this be  extremely time consuming - it can also be extremely risky.

Starting out by building an MVP allows you to release your product early in the development process, helping to determine early on whether it actually has the potential to succeed.

For example if, upon releasing your MVP, you find that users are excited about your app you can start working on a full production version with some assurance that your final product will be successful.

On the other hand, if your MVP fails to make an impact on users, you might decide to pivot and take your product in a different direction - or you may realize that it simply isn’t a good idea to see it through to a full production version. In this scenario, the time, money, and effort saved is usually huge.

Defining Your MVP

Defining your MVP is all about determining exactly which features the first iteration of your app will include. You’ll want to assemble your team for a workshopping session looking back at all of the work you’ve done leading up to this point, compiling a list of important app features and discussing the following questions:

  • What problem does my product solve?
  • Who is having this problem?
  • How is this problem currently being solved?
  • What is your unique value proposition?

Your value proposition should explain how your company is uniquely equipped to solve this problem and what separates you from your competition. You’ll want to get clear on why people will choose your product to solve their problem over other products on the market. 

What are your must-haves and nice-to-haves?

As you’re answering the above questions you’ll likely come up with a huge list of things that your app could do - but it’s important to remember that your MVP is all about what your app needs to do.

When prioritizing this list consider which features need to be included in order to validate your product. Remember that your goal is to build the minimum needed to validate your product idea while taking on as little risk as possible.

It’s important to make sure that your must-have list only includes features that will allow you to validate your product with users - for example, a backend admin portal shouldn’t be your highest priority.

You'll need to be strategic in deciding which functionality to include in your MVP.  Considering the following factors can help you make a more informed decision: 

  • User research
  • Competitive analysis
  • The relative cost of implementing each epic
  • How quickly you’ll be able to iterate on each area of functionality once you receive user feedback

When determining what should go into your MVP, don’t worry about all the fun features your app could include - just think about a straight line from problem to solution, with as few steps as along the way as possible. Considering this, along with the other factors noted in this lesson will put you on the right track for building a solid MVP.

Now that you’ve established exactly what you’ll be including in your MVP, you’re ready to start prototyping!

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