The concept of the MVP is (in Eric Ries’ words): “The first step is to enter the Build phase as quickly as possible with a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP is that version of the product that enables a full turn of the Build-Measure-Learn loop with a minimum amount of effort and the least amount of development time.” What this means: Rather than spending six months creating a product or service, do only the smallest amount of work required to truly test it.
In practice, this is interpreted in a lot of ways that prove to be detrimental to bootstrapped startups. They create a really crappy version of the product or service without enough features to make it desirable enough for someone to pay for. Or they don’t create anything, and instead put up a landing page and base their decisions on email opt-ins. Or they realize it will take too long to create their actual product, so they create something else.
Most of these interpretations go wrong when they get away from effectively measuring what needs to be measured.
A common MVP mistake is over-emphasizing the “minimum” and under-emphasizing the “viable.”
A much better MVP would have been:
1. Put screenshots up of an analytics report and explain what the product does.
2. When someone signs up (pays), get them to click on a few logos to select the services they liked.
3. Tell them their report will be ready soon.
4. Call them up and talk them through what’s being done, build the report, and give it to them.
This would have taken me one day.
The 7 Day Startup: You Don't Learn Until You Launch
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