Minimum Viable Product

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Minimum Viable Product (MVP) An MVP is the smallest thing you can create that gives you meaningful learning about your product. MVP is often used interchangeably with “experiment” in the broader community. I personally tend to reserve it specifically for tests around the product, and not for experiments related to other business assumptions. It is best to think about MVPs as an ongoing process, rather than a single release. Validation is rarely that neat and tidy.

Alexander Osterwalder’s business model canvas and Ash Maurya’s lean canvas are both powerful tools. I also often find myself using this simple set of questions to lay out a belief system around an idea: Try to make your assumptions as concise and specific as possible. You want to be able to run an experiment against it to see if it is true.

  1. My target customer will be? (Tip: how would you describe your primary target customer)
  2. The problem my customer wants to solve is? (Tip: what does your customer struggle with or what need do they want to fulfill)
  3. My customer’s need can be solved with? (Tip: give a very concise description / elevator pitch of your product)
  4. Why can’t my customer solve this today? (Tip: what are the obstacles that have prevented my customer from solving this already)
  5. The measurable outcome my customer wants to achieve is? (Tip: what measurable change in your customer’s life makes them love your product)
  6. My primary customer acquisition tactic will be? (Tip: you will likely have multiple marketing channels, but there is often one method, at most two, that dominates your customer acquisition — what is your current guess)
  7. My earliest adopter will be? (Tip: remember that you can’t get to the mainstream customer without getting early adopters first)
  8. I will make money (revenue) by? (Tip: don’t list all the ideas for making money, but pick your primary one)
  9. My primary competition will be? (Tip: think about both direct and indirect competition)
  10. I will beat my competitors primarily because of? (Tip: what truly differentiates you from the competition?)
  11. My biggest risk to financial viability is? (Tip: what could prevent you from getting to breakeaven? Is there something baked into your revenue or cost model that you can de-risk?
  12. My biggest technical or engineering risk is? (Tip: is there a major technical challenge that might hinder building your product?