Before launching a product, most start-ups develop a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) in order to validate their idea. The MVP should be the lightest version of your product, with just enough features in order to be usable by your early customers who can then provide valuable feedback for future product development.
Starting with a MVP can save you lots of time and money, so today we will discuss about this.
Goals of a pre-launch start-up
In a recent presentation, Michael Seibel, the CEO of Y Combinator (an american seed money start-up accelerator used to launch over 2000 companies, like Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, and more) gave some really valuable ideas that you should keep in mind when launching a new product.
1. Understand the problem you’re trying to solve
First step, before you start to write any code (or to hire somebody to do that for your company), having some understanding of the problem that you’re trying to solve is essential.
2. Talk to your users (the people that you’re trying to solve the problem for)
Get feedback, but don’t get too deep into it (no need of years of research). Your questions should always be about the problem, and not about features that could solve the problem. The conversation should be about:
- What the problem is
- How often do they experience it?
- Are they willing to pay for a solution?
- Do they know other people that have that problem?
3. Launch as quickly as possible
In most cases, 3 or 4 weeks should be enough to build your MVP.
Even if the product does not have all the awesome features that you envision, listen to the feedback that you get from your potential customers, because it might turn out that the full thing that you want to build isn’t what your customers want at all.
5. Hold the problem you’re solving tightly, but hold the solution you’re building loosely
Iterate and pivot. In most cases, a lean MVP should
- be built very fast (weeks, not months)
- have very limited functionality
- appeal to a small set of users
- appeal to their highest order problems
6. It’s not that special
You just have to start. Do you remember the launch day of Facebook or Google? What about Twitter? Well, if you don’t, it’s normal. The main focus should be on getting a customer as soon as possible, not on your launch date.
7. Learn from the feedback you receive
Learning from the feedback of your customers it’s essential, and you can learn much more when you give them a product to play with.
Finally, some hacks you can use in order to build an MVP quickly
1. Time box your specs
If you know that you want to deliver your MVP in 3-4 weeks, it will become easier to decide on which features are the most important to build and which ones you should remove.
2. Write down your specs
It’s easier for you to stay in line with your plan, otherwise the 3-4 weeks plan turns into 2-3 months.
3. Cut your specs
In most cases, after a week you might figure that you might not get done all the stuff that you planned to do. And it’s ok. The goal is to get something out in the world. The easiest thing to do is to delay it.
4. Don’t fall in love with your MVP
Most products change a lot on the road and end up being something much different from what the initial vision was.
Which idea did you find the most valuable? Leave a comment below.
Cover image rights: @kellysikkema, Unsplash