The MVP (or Minimum Viable Product ) is often the first version of a product or service developed by a company that wants to validate its business idea. However, MVPs are not only developed by startups but can also developed by established companies who would like to test new ideas on the market.
In this guide, we explain what exactly an MVP is, how to create one, and several successful Minimum Viable Product examples.
WHAT IS AN MVP?
An MVP can be considered as a first viable version of the final product or service that the company or startup is developing. This first viable version will give an investor a quicker outlook whether the product is market fit or not.
Let’s start with at a simple but a perfect example of how to create a custom MVP.
Imagine you want to sell shoes online, but you have no certainty that it will actually work and buying hundreds of shoes and then not being able to sell them would be a problem. So you decide to create an online shoe showcase and every time you receive an order you go to the official retailer, buy the shoes and then ship them to the online buyer.
The shoes online shop is a minimal but fully functional version of your product or service. The service might be a little bit slower and also using this strategy also limits the amount of sales and growth you can have. However, this is a true story of how Zappos was born.
But what is the purpose of all this? Why not create the final product directly?
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN MVP
You should have guessed a little already.
By now you should already reckoned the main purpose of a Minimum Viable Product. Basically the goal is to validate a business idea by spending little money and wasting little time. While the value in testing your ideas might seem superfluous and useless, don’t underestimate it as a good percentage of new ideas fail at the initial stages.
In fact, imagine, taking the example above, of buying thousands of shoes before having even tested the idea of your startup. Considering that a pair of shoes costs €50 on average, you would have invested €50,000 with no guarantee of success. Conversely, by creating the MVP you would have “lost” a few hours to create the site and little else.
Other benefits of incorporating MVPs in your agile development include:
- Competitive advantage – You get to the market faster than other competitors who are planing a product with many features to ship. Additionally, after releasing the MVP and getting UX feedback you can complete subsequent iterations and probably finish the product using the same time frames that you would have employed if you had to develop a full product. Actually, you might save some time if you realise that the users aren’t engaging in certain feature set as initially predicted from surveys and user interviews.
- Certainty – You have a Market Fit guarantee which is not 100% but you can be much more sure that the full product has an audience waiting for it.
- Future development – Developing an MVP is just a matter of making working on a predefined set of iterations as per normal agile development. Since product version is ever really ‘final’ (unless you scrap it) with agile development, even after the MVP, you can continue to develop the full product by continuing these iterations without changing the way the development teams geared up. In truth, after releasing the MVP you can create value at a faster pace. Product Managers can assess the current value of gather information from user research and various quantitative and qualitative tools and use the results as the foundation for future product iterations.
And that brings us to the next topic.
COSTS & DELIVERY TIME OF AN MVP
The ease and speed of execution of a Minimum Viable Product are inherent in its definition.
The cost for an MVP may vary depending on the product required and if it’s going to be done internally or by an external agency. Additionally, an MVP using takes on average around 2 months to develop. Obviously these are indications which vary according to your needs and complexities.
However, in a nutshell the goal for a successful MVP is to develop something which is neither too expensive or time consuming.
Here’s how to make sure that actually happens.
Creating or implementing a Minimum Viable Product is not trivial and despite spending less time and cost compared to a fully fledged product, the task shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Basically, these are the three phases in its realization :
- Conception and creation
- Market launch
Let’s see them in more detail.
As with any product placed on the market, you must first have an idea in mind or a number of ideas that you need to analyse to point out which would be the biggest pain for your future customers. In this phase you might need to invest time and user research for product discovery and coming up with a number of wireframes until you decide on the key feature which will solve a given problem
As regards user research, you need to invest time, money and effort in conducting user interviews and evaluation questionnaires and organise your qualitative and quantitative data. Finally you can decide on the problem that one would like to solve and continue with the wireframe.
After you have in mind what the minimum functionalities are, you just have to proceed with the creation of the Minimum Working Product .
For example, if you wanted to sell shoes online your MVP should at least have an online purchasing website. Creating a shoe ecommerce is certainly easier than creating a dating app for example.
Launching your product in the market is very delicate and one needs to find the correct timing. For example if you have been working on AI tool for some time and you have planned to launch it just after ChatGPT was launched with million subscribers in just one day, I would say that you need to postpone you MVP delivery date.
In fact, even the most interesting and innovative product in the world, you could, for example, choose the wrong time. For example launching an app that allows people to book trips out of town during the pandemic is not a really good idea. Obviously this example is extreme and above all unpredictable. However, there are many other situations that you can and should predict.
Undoubtedly, it remains important to analyze the market in depth to identify the right audience to present your MVP to take the relevant Go To Market precautions.
Once the minimal product has been launched, all you have left is the last phase: analyzing user behavior .
ANALYSIS – EVALUATING VALUE
After releasing an MVP to the market, don’t try to gain time and continue with the development of additional features before analysing user engagement, improvements and obvious shortcomings. These must be traced using the relevant data analysis tools depending on your type of product.
By evaluating the value of the MVP, you can actually start planning the next iterations to guarantee really adding value to your product. Remember that just adding the features which you think are nice and useful might be totally ignored by customers. Unfortunately this can also happen on features which were suggested during user research but then proofed to be unsuccessful. The main reason of this is that we might find and idea good in theory but in practice then we just find ourselves using the website or app differently.
But not before having presented the types and as many examples of Minimum Viable Product.
Minimum Viable Products can be divided into 7 categories:
Let’s dig deeper into some MVP examples.
1. CORE FEATURE
In this case, the Minimum Viable Product consists of a limited version of the final product usually having a single function, the fundamental one or core. This is a good way how to test the water and drastically reduces the production costs.
If the MVP then gives positive results, it is possible to add further functions.
Fresco Frigo, a smart fridge dispensing fresh food, used this method to validate its service upon launch. In fact, at the beginning it allowed you to open the fridge with the app/card/badge but not carry out any type of transaction. Subsequently, they added more features which provided customers with functionality to find the food item from their app and buy it digitally.
2. VIDEO DEMO
This kind of MVP is ideal when you want to present you potential customer base with a very complex product. In this case the product does not exist but it is shown through a video mockup .
In doing so, Dropbox has garnered over 70,000 subscribers to its waitlist without spending any money on development. In the case that the idea failed, this kind of MVP makes it easier to go back to the drawing book and reconsider starting all over the product discovery phase.
Here is the demo video they made:
3. WIZARD OF OZ
Just as the Wizard of Oz would do, the secret here is to play on impressions . In a nutshell, the work behind the scenes is completely manual but the customer is given the impression that everything is automated.
This MVP was used by Zappos back in 1999. Later on this kind of MVP was also employed for Aardvark and Cardmunch.
Similar to the Wizard of Oz but different in user experience since an automatic service is simulated but the customer knows that he is interacting with a human . This kind of MVP was used by Airbnb when the found just added one listing onto a website and was taking care of all communication with the clients. Obviously, there was lots of work that was required after he proofed that his idea was welcomed by users.
Using Piecemeal MVP is like creating a puzzle – you develop your own MVP by taking several already available tools and software and integrate them together.
It is perhaps the most widespread MVP also because it is potentially free of charge .
Groupon was validated like this. The site was initially created with WordPress, coupons with FileMaker and emails managed with Apple Mail.
Crowdfunding could also work as an MVP. Platforms like Kickstarter allow you to pre-sell a product at a lower price to raise the funds and then develop it. If the campaign goes well and receives lots of endorsements then it shows that you should continue to invest in it.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, for example, was launched thanks to a campaign where they funded $675,000 for a book.
7. PITCH DECK + SLIDES
Finally, it is also possible to validate a solution using a pitch deck. Using the same gist as the Video Demo, an idea is pitched in front of investors usually by the founder himself. Just like Shark Tank, if the investors are interested they will invest in your idea.
In fact, this type of MVP is particularly used for particularly complex solutions.
Now let’s look on how to actually create a digital MVP, using available tools and software to use.
To create an MVP there is really a huge choice of tools you can use and I have selected the most popular tools. These are divided into three categories:
- Tools used during product discovery and design
- Tools used to create the MVP;
- Tools to analyse the performance and measure product value.
Let’s start with the design.
Designing an MVP often starts from the wireframe, or a basic design that can also be a simple sketch on a notebook. Designs help you streamline your tasks and not to lose sight of the elements composing the minimum viable product .
Here are the tools used to create wireframes and designs:
Once the wireframes are done you can move on to the actual development.
Development that can be completed using the following tools.
These are the tools you can use for creating a website or an online platform :
- WordPress , click here for WordPress Support Subscriptions with Unlimited Changes .
If you want to create a simpler landing page instead , use these:
If, on the other hand, you want to open an e-commerce site there are the famous ones:
And finally, to develop a smartphone app you can use:
Finally, let’s discuss tracking – an integral part of an MVP.
Once you’ve created your MVP, you need to figure out how much the people who use it are going to endorse it and enjoy it.
Use some of the following tools to track and monitor performance and engagement of your product.:
- Hotjar, which allows you to create heatmaps on your website.
- Microsoft Clarity, which is a free tool that creates heatmaps.
- Facebook pixel , to be set if you intend to start retargeting campaigns on Facebook Ads.
- Google Analytics , to monitor the traffic generated on your website ;
- Google Tag Manager , to wrap all code snippets in one container.
Thus we conclude our guide on the Minimum Viable Product.