Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
MVP is one of the most debated concepts in modern startup culture.
Designing a MVP is a core component of the Lean Startup framework. The goal of a MVP is to quickly get into the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop that is the lifeblood of a lean startup.
Creating MVPs is an art. Much of the skill lies in determining what to do/not do with time as your main constraint. Focusing too much on maximizing speed and minimizing effort can be dangerous if taken to the extreme. Some bugs and mistakes can ruin the trust of a potential customer forever.
A MVP Should ‘Do No Harm’
Ideally, an MVP is a well educated guess based on hours of interviews with potential or current customers about a problem they face. But it is still a guess. You don’t know if what you built will provide value until you receive feedback.
If you are going to send your MVP into the world you owe it to the people using it to not make them worse off than they were before.
Are you risking sensitive customer data by sending it to a Google Spreadsheet shared with 15 people?
Does your MVP have powerful features that when used incorrectly could cause major problems for your customers? Do you have a help section, tool tips, or support processes in place?
Are you wasting someone’s time by making promises on your landing page you don’t deliver on?
How We Tweaked the MVP Concept
We build business-to-business software. One of the core features of our platform controls the flow of millions of dollars of ad spend every month for our customers. If used incorrectly, this feature could cause a lot of damage.
Due to the potential risks of building software so powerful, our team decided early on to tweak how we used MVP internally when building new features and products.
Minimum Responsible Viable Product (MRVP)
Version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort and passes our ‘responsibility test’ questions.
In B2B, once you lose someone’s trust, it’s almost impossible to gain back.
To ensure we are launching new features responsibly, we ask ourselves these questions before every release:
- Are we ruthlessly protecting our customers’ data?
- Have we done everything in our power to ensure our customers use this feature correctly and can’t cause irrevocable harm through misuse?
- Does it do what our marketing materials say it does?
I believe you should take a deep breath after finishing development of your MVP and honestly ask yourself, “Is this MVP responsible to launch?”
Don't risk betraying the trust of or losing valuable customers by launching an irresponsible MVP.