Chapter 6 – How to define your MVP (Minimal Viable Product)


[PreviousChapter 5 – How to Create Unique Value Proposition for your Product?]

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MVP is all about solving the problem by the most basic solution.

It is the smallest thing that you can build that would deliver some value to your customers and also help you gather validated learning about customers with least effort.

It is based on the lean principle of Build-Measure-Learn.

Lean Principle

A simple example is, if the problem is “I need something to sit on”, then the most basic solution would be to build a stool or a chair (as an MVP) rather than start working on building an advanced hi-tech arm-chair.

Developing Product using correct MVP

How should an MVP look like?

What is an MVP

What is an MVP?

Let’s try to understand this through an example that illustrates what should be a Minimum, a Viable and a Minimum Viable Product  –

The problem to solve — It’s hard to find bikes for rent for travelers who want to explore a city.

Minimum A board of “Bike on Rent” in front of your house.

Viable A web platform — with users profile, messaging, notification, search & best fit system.

Minimum ViableA public Google Sheets with manually collected offers from ads/classifieds or Facebook groups with bike description, photos and renter contact details.

This was MVP used by Uber-

Uber MVP

Uber MVP was Travis Kalanick driving a car, and a very basic web application that allowed a user to hail the car while seeing its location in real-time. The key things it addressed:
– Just click a button to call a cab.
– Some level of accountability where the user can see where the car is.

What are the benefits of building MVP rather than starting to build a whole viable product straight on?

  1. Validation of your hypothesis and assumptions using minimal resources
  2. Ensuring that you don’t build product or waste your resources on features your users don’t need
  3. Collecting data from actual users easily and quickly
  4. Finding your early adopters.
  5. Building a better product through learning, iterations, and refinements.

How do we define MVP

We’ll use Trello for illustration on how to develop MVP. Let’s take a simple example.
Suppose, you are developing a product which allows anyone to design their own T-shirt and buy the T-shirt.

Step 1 — Write down the primary goal of your product.

“Allow users to design and buy customized T-shirts”

Step 2 — Define how the main user flow would look like.

This is where journey mapping would be helpful to you. (refer chapter URL )

This is what we get –

Step 3 — Develop a list of features for each stage.
Where do you get the list of features?
Remember the customer journey map that we discussed in chapter 4 — Creating Personas & Journey mapping.

The customer journey map would provide you a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the users (in different stages) and also their possible solutions in form of features.

For example, the feature list for –
Customize T-shirt Phase would be: choose a color, choose T-shirt type, choose a fabric, generate a 3D preview, save your customized T-shirt for later, share your design with a friend, and so on…
Buy T-Shirt Phase would be: pay with Credit Card, pay with PayPal, pay with Google Wallet, use a coupon code, make use of seasonal sales… and so on.

By now, you’ll have compiled list of features for each stage –

Feature Lists for each stage corresponding to Customer Journey
Step 4 — Categorize & Prioritize

Categorize each feature as Must-Have (Basic Expectations), Nice-to-Have (Performance) and Delighters. Also, prioritize the features based on following factors –

  • Work-flow — How important is this feature for completing the process?
  • Frequency — How often will the feature be used?
  • Use Case Size — How many users will use this feature?
  • Value — How much value will the feature bring to the customer?
  • Development Effort — How much effort would be required to develop the feature?

You could also make use of the following matrix for prioritizing your ideas:
– Investment v/s Return Matrix
– Opportunity Matrix

Investment v/s Return Matrix

Opportunity Matrix

Once, you are done categorizing and prioritizing, you’ll get a list somewhat like this –

List of Features with Categorization as Must-Have, Nice-to-Have, and Delighters

Where the marked colors represent the feature categorization into Must-Haves, Nice-to-Haves, and Delighters –

Step 5 — Define the MVP, based on the value proposition you developed and based on what core assumptions you want to validate.

Once you have organized your list of feature and prioritized them, it’s time to start making some tough decisions. You must decide on the minimum set of functionality that will resonate with your target customers.

You should start with the highest prioritized feature while also keeping the value proposition you created in mind[Refer Chapter 5 — How to create Unique Value Proposition for your product ].

To start with, your MVP candidate should have all the Must-Haves. Then, you should include the main Nice-to-Haves (Performance Features) that you are planning to include to beat your competition.
Also, you should plan to include the delighters that would set you apart from your competitors.

The remaining features can be planned to be shipped in version 1.2 or 1.2 based on the learning feedback you’ll receive on the MVP roll-out.

This is how your MVP would look like –
(pink Rocket icon signify features you’ve selected for MVP)

Features selection for MVP Build

Once, you have defined the scope of MVP, it’s time to write down user stories related to functionalities (coming soon) and then build your MVP (coming soon).

[PreviousChapter 5 – How to Create Unique Value Proposition for your Product?]

[Next: Chapter 7 – Writing User Stories]

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