Product Development

Learning Goal: Utilize the product development process to build a product or service.
Build Measure Learn

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - The MVP is the fastest way to achieve learning (Build. Measure. Learn.) about the customer with the least effort.

In other words, the minimum viable product is a test of a specific set of hypotheses or assumptions, with a goal of proving or disproving them as quickly as possible.

The minimum viable product should help you answer the following:
  • What will the customer care about? (Customer Gains and Pains)
  • Am I targeting the correct customer? (Customer segment)
  • Is this really the correct solution to the consumer problem? (Customer solution)
  • Can I validate key attributes of the product? (Key business assumption)
Misunderstandings About the MVP
One common worry is that this might lead companies to “release crap,” shipping too soon with a product of such low quality that it alienates potential customers and, thus, causes entrepreneurs to abandon their vision. Remember, the minimum in minimum viable product does not mean that you should ship just anything at the nearest possible date. It means to ship as soon as it is possible to learn what you need to learn.

The second misunderstanding is a concern for what will happen if things turn out exactly as we originally predicted (namely, badly). Entrepreneurs, faced with an early defeat, might lose their commitment to seeing their vision through. I understand this fear. It is a direct consequence of the reality distortion field, that ability most visionaries have to get people to believe in a vision as if it was already true. Data can undermine this field. It's easier to believe in a glorious future when you have only zeroes, for everyone: founders, investors, and employees.
Minimum Viable Product vs. The Final Product

Minimum viable product is an attempt to get startups to simplify, but it is not itself simple. How do you know which features are essential and which should go? There is no formula, it requires judgment. But your judgement will ultimately lead to validated learning. Real entrepreneurs learn how to take this data and form it into their vision.

I told you it wasn’t simple. And this leads to a last criticism of minimum viable product that I hear from time to time: it’s just too complicated. Most people argue that you should make something that is beautiful and that you would want use yourself. This Nike school of entrepreneurship is not entirely misguided. Compared to "not doing it," I think “just do it” is a superior alternative.

But the teams I meet in my travels are often one step beyond this. What do you do the day after you just did it? It really doesn’t matter if you took a long time to build it right or just threw the first iteration over the wall. Unless you achieve instantaneous overnight success, you will be faced by difficult decisions. Pivot or persevere? Add features or remove them? Charge money or give it away for free? Freemium or subscription or advertising?

Click for the full article on Minimum Viable Products by Eric Ries.

Minimum Viable Product by Steve Blank

Additional Reading Student Activity
Develop a prototype for your food, survey user feedback and complete the product development template.
Jonathan Horn,
Feb 12, 2016, 7:28 AM
Jonathan Horn,
Feb 12, 2016, 7:28 AM