We get it. It's incredibly difficult nailing down your idea. With concepts that can expand exponentially, launching your minimum viable product (MVP) is one of the ultimate tests as a founder. Through ideation, game planning, number crunching, and presenting, developing an MVP can be a long and convoluted process. If you're an early stage founder and don't know where to begin, we're highlighting the milestones you need to tackle before presenting to a potential group of investors.
With design and development costs likely surprassing your initial budget, an MVP is considered as the smallest thing that collects that most amount of information is the quickest amount of time. Eric Reis famously writes in The Lean Startup,
A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
Your MVP becomes a tool in order to determine the level of user engagement, where you went right (and where you went wrong), what features need improvement, and whether there's enough market validation to prove your concept. We've met with founders who eloquently pitch their ideas, but they haven't been able to tailor their scope for their first launch. Seeking upwards of millions (!) of dollars from investors, sometimes the product roadmaps haven't been put into categories or phases. Learnings from Phase 1 may drastically alter your game plan for Phase 2. If you're looking for the best recommendations in developing your MVP, here are our top suggestions for founders:
- Nail down your problem statement. Consider the problem that you're looking to address in the market. Are you a pain killer or gain creator? It's only natural that you want your product to be THE problem fixer for all of the obstacles that you're seeing. However, each of these segmented problems may have 10 supporting features that need design and development. Look at the largest opportunity for impact. That's the problem you need to focus on within your first launch.
- You can't please the entire market. One product typically includes more than one target audience. Many products include dual or multi-tiered platforms that meet a rising market with a multiple user or customer base. As a founder, you'll likely play favoritism for the audience that has the largest use of your platform. Even if it's a 51/49 split between two targets, your feature prioritization will need to keep your audiences into consideration. Prioritize features with based on these audiences.
- Prioritize the most valuable features. Which features help solve the pain points identified in your problem statement? What features have already been developed that can be used as reusable components? For example, are there integrations that you can use instead of building a feature from scratch? How do you minimize the risk in building features but maximize the opportunity for impact? Also consider whether a feature will become your main selling point. Will this feature help draw users? Does it help validate the market need?
- Don't complicate things. Of course we want all the bells and whistles included in the first launch. In our minds, we have the full-picture plan and this will likely become the plan for years to come. Design, development, market validation, marketing, customer service, technical review - all of these items will likely need a team, revenue stream, and budget. If you're looking to reach a market, keep things tailored to your MVP launch. You'll be able to add new features and make tweaks and changes based on your launch learnings.
- Remember to continually test and measure. You won't be able to determine whether your MVP is successful unless you have metrics to base your decisions on. Throughout the process, develop your north star indicator. What is the success metric that you're looking to achieve? Is it the number of users? Is it the engagement rate on your platform? Or perhaps the number of partnerships with peer products that are similar in audiences? Keep analyzing the product performance and maintain these records to compare. Your investors, marketers, and development team will all use these metrics to make educated decisions for your product road map.
- It's okay to change! If you ask us about a founder that we've worked with that hasn't change their product road map, you'd likely be met with glazed stares. The product development process is iterative and requires the ability to take constructive feedback to pivot and change when needed. The most successful MVP launches have been led by a founder (or team of co-founders) who have been able to make changes along the process based on learnings throughout the way.
If you're looking to launch your MVP, I'm here to help! I've helped founders nail down their MVP requirements based on their business strategy. With elevated branding, investor deck, and product mockups, I work with founders become investor ready with strategic game plan for their first launch.