Minimum Viable Product Approach Explained

published on 26 February 2024

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach simplifies launching new products by focusing on the essentials. It's a strategy that involves creating a product with just enough features to attract early adopters and validate a product idea early in the development cycle. This method offers a practical way to gather user feedback swiftly and iterate based on insights. Here's a quick overview:

  • What is MVP? A basic version of a product designed to solve users' problems with minimal features.
  • Why MVP? It allows for faster market entry, reduces risks, and helps in collecting valuable user feedback for improvements.
  • Key Elements: Essential features, targeting early adopters, and validating the product-market fit.

The MVP approach not only conserves resources but also enables a focus on what truly matters to customers, facilitating more informed decisions for future development. This strategy has been successfully employed by startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, and Zappos, proving its effectiveness in the real world.

Understanding MVP

An MVP, short for minimum viable product, is a simple version of a product that can still be released to customers to see if it helps solve their problem. Instead of making a product with all the features from the start, the MVP approach suggests launching with just the essentials that make the product useful and appealing to customers.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a way to start a new product or website with just the basic features. It's enough to get feedback from the first users who are usually keen on new tech. The point of an MVP is to quickly and cheaply test out the main ideas behind a product.

Some key points about an MVP:

  • Focuses mainly on the most important functions
  • Targets early users and tech fans
  • Might not look perfect
  • Helps learn a lot from actual use

Using the MVP approach helps you get your product out there quicker, attract early users, and use their feedback to add more features later on.

The Evolution of MVP

The idea of MVP started with lean manufacturing, but it became popular in 2008 after being mentioned by Frank Robinson and then made famous by Eric Ries in his 2011 book The Lean Startup.

Some key moments in MVP history:

  • 2001: The idea of a "Minimum feature set" comes up
  • 2007: The term "Minimum viable product" is created
  • 2009: MVP becomes a key part of the lean startup idea
  • 2011: The Lean Startup book makes MVP more known

Nowadays, MVP is a common way to make new software and hardware products faster and more efficiently.

Why MVP Matters

Going for an MVP approach has several benefits:

  • Faster time-to-market: Launch a basic version sooner without everything added on.
  • Risk reduction: Test the main ideas before spending lots of time and money.
  • Early customer feedback: Get early advice to make your product better.
  • Cost savings: Don't waste time on things that aren't needed.
  • Pivoting ability: Change direction easily based on what users do and say.

Instead of spending ages making a perfect first version, MVP lets you launch a simple but working version quickly and at a lower cost. This fast feedback is super helpful for creators and product teams to make changes quickly and create something users really like.

Planning Your MVP

Identifying Business Needs and Goals

When you're thinking about making a simple version of your product (an MVP), start by figuring out what you want your business to achieve in the long run and how this MVP can help you get there. Ask yourself:

  • What problem does your product solve?
  • Who are you making this product for?
  • How will your product make their lives better?
  • How will you know if your product is a success?

Making sure your MVP's features match your business goals will help you create something that checks if your main product idea actually works.

Understanding Your Users

Get to know your users by:

  • User interviews: Talking directly to people to understand what they need and what troubles them.
  • Surveys: Asking many people for their opinions.
  • Personas: Making up characters that represent your typical users.

Find out the biggest problems your product could solve for your users. What makes them excited about your product? This will guide you in making an MVP that really matters to them.

Defining MVP Features

After learning about your users, pick the most important features that:

  • Core functionality: Are absolutely necessary for the product to be useful.
  • User workflows: Help users complete their tasks without unnecessary extras.
  • Scaling: Can support a small number of users to start with.

Keep the list of features short and the development focused. Don't try to add too much. Your main aim is to create an MVP that tests your biggest guesses about your product.

Building Your MVP

Development Strategies

When you're making the simplest version of your product (that's your MVP), think about building it quickly and smartly. Here's how:

  • Start with the must-haves: First, focus on the really important stuff your product needs to work. Think basic features like user sign-ups and the main actions users will do.
  • Build in small steps: Work in short bursts, maybe a week or two at a time, and keep checking in with users to see what they think.
  • Try out ideas fast: Use quick sketches or basic versions of your product to test out different ideas without spending too much time on them.
  • Make testing easy: Use tools that check your product automatically, so you can keep making changes without breaking things.
  • Work together: Have people from different areas (like coding, design, and planning) work closely. This helps everyone understand the big picture better.

The aim is to make a basic but working version of your product that shows you if your idea is good, without wasting too much time or effort.

Validating Your MVP

To see if your MVP is on the right track, you need to check in with users:

  • Focus on a small group first: Look for feedback from people who are most likely to use your product early on.
  • Ask users what they think: Use surveys to get a sense of how happy people are with your product.
  • Talk to users directly: Having one-on-one chats can give you deep insights into what works and what doesn't.
  • Look at how people use it: Check data on how users interact with your product to understand what they like.
  • Decide what's important: Figure out which measures tell you if your product is doing well.

Testing helps you know if your product fits what the market wants. Use what users tell you to decide what to do next.

Iteration and Improvement

Use the feedback and data you've gathered to make your MVP better:

  • Spot problems: Look for the biggest issues users are having and think about how to fix them.
  • Choose what to add next: Decide which new features to work on based on what will make the most impact.
  • Make using it smoother: Work on making the user experience less confusing and more enjoyable.
  • Keep adding: Slowly bring in more features, but stay focused on keeping things simple.
  • Check back with users: Keep asking for feedback to make sure the changes you're making are right.

The idea is to keep improving your MVP by learning what users like and don't like, and making it better step by step.

MVP Examples and Case Studies

Airbnb's MVP

Airbnb began in 2008 when its founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, put up a simple website offering their own apartment in San Francisco for short stays. This small test helped them see if people were interested in renting places for short periods.

Key details:

  • Made a simple website with pictures and a way for people to book
  • Took care of guest communications and payments themselves
  • Started with their own place to check if the idea had potential
  • Found out quickly that folks were looking for short-term places to stay

This easy test showed Airbnb that there was a real demand for this service, helping them move forward with more confidence.

Dropbox's MVP

In 2007, the folks behind Dropbox, Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, decided to make a short video instead of an actual product. The video showed how Dropbox would work, and it got them 70,000 people signing up to try it out.

Key details:

  • Made a video explaining how Dropbox would work
  • Got 70,000 people interested just from the video
  • Showed there was a big demand before even making the product
  • Helped them get support from a big investment firm

This approach confirmed that people really wanted Dropbox, guiding their next steps.

Uber's MVP (UberCab)

Uber began in 2009 as UberCab. It was a very basic service where you could book a car through a text message. Founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp tested this in San Francisco.

Key details:

  • Started with a simple way to book cars with an iPhone
  • Made booking easy with texts
  • Quickly saw that people liked the idea of easy car booking
  • Developed the idea into the Uber app we know today

The first version of UberCab showed there was a real need for this kind of service, paving the way for Uber's growth.

Zappos' MVP

Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos, started by making a very basic website in 1999 that showed shoes from local stores without actually having any shoes himself. This helped him see if people would buy shoes online.

Key details:

  • Created a simple webpage
  • Showed shoes from local stores without having them in stock
  • Let people buy on Zappos and then pick up from the stores
  • Proved people were interested in buying shoes online, helping get funding

This no-stock approach helped Zappos test the waters with little risk.

Key Takeaways

What we can learn from these stories:

  • Try out your main idea quickly without spending a lot
  • Focus on the must-have parts of your product
  • Look for feedback from people who like trying new things
  • Use what you learn to make your product better
  • It's more important to learn and improve than to be perfect from the start

These stories show how starting with a simple version of your product can help you figure out if it's going to work, letting you improve and grow based on what your early users say.


Beyond MVP

This chapter talks about more advanced ways to develop your product after you've started with an MVP, and how to grow bigger from there.

Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)

Think of the Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) as a step up from the MVP. It's not just about making something that works; it's about making something people really enjoy using from the get-go. The MLP tries to hit the sweet spot where users not only find it useful but also have a great time with it.

Here's what makes an MLP stand out:

  • It really gets what users need and want.
  • It's fun and easy to use.
  • It looks good and feels personal.
  • It's all about making users happy and wanting to come back.

Going for an MLP might take a bit more work at the start, but it can make users stick around longer because they love it.

Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)

After you've tested your MVP and know it works, the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) is about adding the extra bits to make it ready for the bigger market. This version has everything it needs to be a product people are willing to pay for.

Moving from MVP to MMP means:

  • Putting in features that make it worth the money.
  • Making sure it can handle more users.
  • Getting the word out with solid marketing.
  • Figuring out the right price.

The MMP is basically your product's ready-to-go version, polished and packed up for your target customers.

Scaling Your Product

Once your MMP is out there, you've got to keep the momentum going. Here's how to grow and keep improving:

Continuous Testing and Optimization:

  • Try different designs and see what works best.
  • Use what you know about users to make their experience better.
  • Keep an eye on how people use your product and make tweaks.
  • Fix problems quickly to keep users happy.

Expansion to New Markets and Segments:

  • Think about selling in new places step by step.
  • Change your message to fit different groups of people.
  • Make your product work in various languages.
  • Work with people who can spread the word.

Process Refinement and Automation:

  • Make routine tasks faster and easier.
  • Help users help themselves.
  • Set up systems that do things automatically.
  • Connect your product with others to work better together.

Growing after your MVP means constantly improving and reaching out to more people, all while making sure your product stays solid and loved.

Common Misconceptions and Pitfalls

What an MVP Is Not

An MVP isn't just a first draft, a test run, or a basic website to drum up interest. Here's how it's different:

  • An MVP is about seeing if your main product idea works with real customers, not just showing off what it can do like a draft version.
  • It's meant to check if your whole business idea makes sense, not just if people like it, which is what a simple website might do.
  • An MVP is your product's first real outing, not just a trial.

The big thing that sets an MVP apart is its focus on learning what to tweak to make sure your product fits well with what customers want.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Teams often run into a few common problems when making an MVP:

  • Not lining up with business goals: The features of the MVP don't really test what the product is supposed to do.
  • Making it too complex: Adding too many features without thinking about what's absolutely necessary.
  • Not having a clear way to measure: There's no good way to tell how well the product is doing or what users think.
  • Stopping at version one: Putting out an MVP but not planning on how to change it based on what users say.
  • Too much focus on tech: Paying more attention to making it technically perfect than making sure it's useful for customers.

To steer clear of these issues, try to:

  • Make sure you know exactly what you're trying to learn about your product and business model.
  • Set up specific ways to test these ideas directly.
  • Use clear measures that match up with what you're aiming for in your business.
  • Keep improving the product based on real data and feedback, going through the cycle of build, measure, and learn.

Keeping your MVP focused on testing your guesses and learning quickly is key to getting the most out of it.

The Future of MVP

This chapter talks about what's coming next in the world of making the simplest version of a product to see if it works (that's an MVP). As people get more familiar with MVPs, new ideas and changes are shaping where it's headed.

Here are some new ways people are thinking about MVPs:

  • Minimum Catchy Offer: This is about making something that catches people's attention right away with a great deal, not just the basic parts of the product.
  • Black Hole Strategy: Starts with a very simple MVP to draw customers in, then offers more features that customers show they want.
  • Pretotyping: This is about trying out product ideas with simple mockups before any real building starts. It's a way to get feedback without spending on development.
  • Wizard of Oz MVP: Creates a basic product that looks smarter by pretending to have functions it doesn't. This is to see if people are interested before doing a lot of work.

These methods are all about finding out if a product idea is good and getting people interested in new and smart ways. Startups are getting more creative to check their ideas quicker and with less money.

The Evolution of Lean

As technology gets better, the basic ideas behind MVPs need to change too:

  • Shorter iteration cycles: New tools mean teams can make, test, and update MVPs really fast.
  • Data-driven development: Using data and user tests gives valuable information to help decide what the product should do.
  • Hybrid online/offline: Today, digital and real worlds mix together. MVPs need to work in both.
  • Human-centered automation: Even with more artificial intelligence, what people need is still most important. MVPs help figure out which problems are worth solving with automation.

Technology changes all the time. But the idea of starting with a simple version of a product and making it better based on what people say will keep adapting to find better solutions, faster.


The idea of making a simple version of a product first, or an MVP, has really changed how we create new things today. Instead of spending a lot of time and money making something big and complex, starting with something simple lets you get it out there faster. This way, you can see what real users think and make changes based on their feedback.

Big names like Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, and Zappos all started with just the basics. They focused on what was most important, then made changes and added more as they learned what people liked. This shows us how important it is to get real feedback quickly, learn from mistakes early, and not waste too much time or money at the start.

Here's what to remember about MVPs:

  • Get a simple version of your product out there fast to see if people like it
  • Start with just the necessary features
  • Listen to what your customers say and use that to make your product better
  • This way, you save time and money compared to making something big right away
  • It's okay to make mistakes at first, as long as you learn and improve

For anyone starting a new product or business, using MVPs can help you find out quickly if your idea is good. MVPs are still changing and finding new ways to be useful, but their focus on quick, smart development that really pays attention to what customers want will always be important. By starting small and listening to feedback, you can create something that people really love.

What is the minimum viable product approach?

The minimum viable product (MVP) approach is about starting with a simple version of your product. It has just the basics needed to solve the main problem for users and lets you gather feedback quickly. This method means you can test your product ideas with real people without spending a lot of time or money.

Key points:

  • Start with only the most important features
  • Aim to get feedback from people who like trying new things
  • Gather user opinions fast
  • Use this feedback to make your product better over time

This approach is great for startups because it allows them to see what works and change direction if needed, without a big investment.

What are the 3 elements of MVP?

The 3 main parts of an MVP are:

  • Key features - Only the essential functions that are absolutely needed. Leaves out anything that's not critical.
  • Early adopters - Targets people who are most likely to try out new products and give feedback.
  • Validation - Checks if the product meets the market needs and if the business idea is solid.

A good MVP balances these parts to show the basic value of the product quickly.

What is minimum viable product strategy and examples?

The minimum viable product (MVP) strategy involves launching a product that's as simple as possible but still solves a problem for users.

Examples include:

  • A simple app for taking notes that lets you format text and save notes
  • A website where you can upload and download documents
  • A basic task manager where you can keep track of tasks manually

The goal is to start with something straightforward and improve it based on what users say.

What is the minimum viable strategy?

The minimum viable strategy means launching a basic version of your product that does just enough to attract the first group of customers. It helps you get feedback from the real world quickly and make smart decisions about how to improve your product with less risk.

It's about figuring out what users really need, making a simple product that meets those needs, getting it out there, listening to what users have to say, and then making it better bit by bit.

This strategy helps you test your ideas quickly, learn from mistakes without too much cost, and adjust your plans based on real information - increasing your chances of creating something that people really want.

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