How an MVP can help your next project
‘You’re selling the vision and delivering the minimum feature set to visionaries, not everyone.’
— Steve Blank
Sports fans reading this might hear ‘MVP’ and think Steph Curry or Tom Brady, but this isn’t an article about superstar American athletes. In this case, we’re talking about Minimum Viable Product.
In a nutshell, the MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and provide adequate feedback for future product development.
Coined by Frank Robinson in 2001 — and popularised by Eric Ries and Steve Blank — the SyncDev co-founder described it as such:
‘The MVP is the right-sized product for your company and your customer. It is big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction and sales, but not so big as to be bloated and risky. Technically, it is the product with maximum ROI divided by risk. The MVP is determined by revenue-weighting major features across your most relevant customers, not aggregating all requests for all features from all customers.’
Some of the biggest success stories in digital business start out with an MVP of sorts. Take, for example, Instagram. The photo and video-sharing social media platform currently boasts a staggering 1 billion monthly active users — but this has been 10 years in the making.
Conceived in 2009 by Kevin Systrom, Instagram was originally called Burbn, an HTML5 mobile web app which primarily featured location check-in and friendship reward points, as well as photo sharing. The vision was an open network of photo sharing and discovery, an antidote to the typical closed friend models prevalent at the time.
After a successful seeding round 6 months later, Instagram — as we know it — launched in October 2010, with the hope of facilitating communication through images. What’s important to consider is that this early product was a fraction of the app it is today. Hashtags weren’t added until 2011, photo tagging and video-sharing until 2013, global advertising until 2015 — the list goes on. The vision was there, and the MVP which nabbed 100K users in its first week paved the way for that vision to be truly realised.
‘We actually got an entire version of Burbn done as an iPhone app, but it felt cluttered, and overrun with features. It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram.’
— Kevin Systrom
So you know what the MVP is, but what are the benefits? There are plenty.
Value for money
Investing in an MVP is great value for money. Because it sits somewhere between a prototype and the final product — minimum viable is key here — your budget won’t be drained on excessive features etc.
Defines your value proposition
The nature of the MVP forces you to define your value proposition extremely clearly. There’s no room for ambiguity! These parameters will give you focus when it comes to setting goals, deciding key functionalities and allocating deadlines. A great example of this is our project with pioneering time-lapse filmmakers Interval Films.
You won’t be promising the earth with an MVP, so there is less danger of confusion with stakeholders. Moreover, parties are likely to accept (and possibly even expect) some flaws that can be ironed out later.
An obvious benefit is the rapid turnaround of an MVP compared with other projects. Startup environments, tight deadlines, and hackathon formats are all time-sensitive situations, and the MVP can often be the answer.
The MVP will be a valuable tool for feedback from customers, especially the early users. A dialogue of suggested changes and improvements not only helps to enhance the product, but also creates a valuable community of customers.
As you can see, there are numerous reasons an MVP could be the perfect fit for your next project. If you would like to find out more about Gravitywell and how we can help, drop us a line.