The True Meaning of “Minimum Viable Product”

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Are you an entrepreneur who wants to launch your product to the market?

We all know that it takes great courage, money, and time to develop your brand. Starting your own business is scary, and it’s tough to prove yourself in the market. Every CEO wants to avoid their product being disliked and marketed unsuccessfully to the consumers.

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Having a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can help you guide your business growth and avoid this issue.

With proper planning, listening, and observation, this marketing strategy allows your company to flourish with little work but maximize validated learning of your product.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a marketing strategy used to display a version of a product that has the simplest, minimum set of features to observe how it performs in the market.

In other words, your MVP works as a hypothesis to prove whether consumers will desire your product.

Not only it saves your time, money and disappointment; it allows entrepreneurs to put the least amount of effort to see if their product works. Still confused and don’t know what MVP exactly entails? Don’t worry, as we’ll provide you with easy-to-understand daily life examples to help you digest what it is all about.

Example #1: A local bakery wants to expand on their wedding cake sector

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To explain in the simplest and easiest way possible, we’ll use a local bakery as one of our core examples. Imagine that there are many wedding couples in Vancouver searching for bakeries that specialize in wedding cakes — a local bakery wants to take on this market demand.

A local bakery wants to know which ingredients or flavors will be popular as wedding cakes within the city. But, the owners don’t want to spend too much of their time and money in baking hundreds of wedding cakes, because they are unsure of what the results will be.

So, the owners decide to try the MVP marketing strategy to “test” their product to the market.

Stage 1: Distribute cupcakes as free samples

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First, owners bake a moderate amount of cupcakes, consisting of different ingredients and flavors. Then, they distribute it as free samples in the city as well as in their store to observe customers’ reactions.

Cupcakes are easy to bake with an extremely low budget and allow customers to provide their feedback and input to the owners.

Afterwards, the owners can know what worked and what didn’t. Did customers enjoy eating them or did they not? What can the owners do to improve their quality?

Stage 2: Upgrading it to small cakes

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Next, the owners eliminate unpopular cupcake flavors and ingredients. Then, they bake using only the popular ingredients — from the previous customers’ feedback database — to further test and validate their wedding cake launch idea. Similarly to cupcakes, baking a reasonable number of small cakes is a lower risk to take. Also, small cakes encourage customers to buy them for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Stage 3: Baking wedding cakes

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Now, this is the final step of the MVP. From cupcakes to small cakes, the bakery owners have a large pool of data knowing which flavors and ingredients are popular. From this point, the owners can focus on baking wedding cakes with the most favored ingredients.

Since many customers bought small cakes from stage 2, owners have the confidence to bake bigger wedding cakes knowing that they’ll be a major hit.

The important part is to focus on products that deliver the same value. It’s entirely different from showing only a small part of the product. For instance, showing mashed up ingredients of cake to the consumers is useless.

However, cupcakes to small cakes to wedding cakes are all different products but deliver the same sweetness. Remember, it’s about trying to prove the very basics of your product to see if customers want it.

MVP shouldn’t be time-consuming nor should you be spending a fortune. In this bakery example, cupcakes are the MVP for owners to “test” their wedding cake idea. MVP doesn’t have to be small or big in size — the main idea is to know what you are trying to prove.

Example #2: Creation of Dropbox
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Another classic example is Dropbox. Everyone uses it, and now we can’t imagine a life without Dropbox. Drew Houston — the CEO of Dropbox — created a file synchronization service for all of your tech devices.

Houston wanted Dropbox to harmoniously synchronize all files on various platforms such as Mac, PC, Android, and Windows, and much more, to make it user-friendly for everyone that has access to a technical device.

Along with Drew Houston, the founding team consisted of “techie” engineers to build Dropbox.

Initially, the primary goal for Dropbox was to market towards emerging developers. During the earlier stages, Houston made a short 3-minute demo video and demonstrated synchronizing process from the beginning till the end, using techie inside jokes. It was a test and to see if developers will like Dropbox.

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In this example, the demo video was the MVP that was used to test Houston’s hypothesis. Luckily, this video drastically increased the amount of traffic overnight. Houston recalls: “It drove hundreds of thousands of people to the website.

Our beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people literally overnight. It totally blew us away.

(Reference from Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup)

Here’s the infamous video:



Through this video, Houston was able to observe the developer market’s reaction.

Dropbox became a major hit almost instantly after its launch, and according to Forbes magazine, its net worth is the US $1.04 billion, as of March 2017.

Local bakery and Dropbox examples were used to assist your understanding of MVP. This business development strategy isn’t a hard concept to grasp; it is only the beginning that can be scary.

business-lessons

MVP is about spending the least to achieve the most. In a startup’s scenario, it’s about knowing whether your product has any actual market demand without building the perfect product.

In your online marketing campaign, it’s about knowing which marketing channels yields that highest return without burning the budget at random places.

This mentality is important because advertising that’s done wrong can be a big black hole sucking every single dollar from your budget.

Luckily, everyone at The Coding Bull has the minimum viable product mindset because we are also a startup.

Justin Chan Tsan Ting
Justin Chan Tsan Ting
My role in this company is to understand our clients' growth obstacles, and to seek efficient and effective solutions to overcome them.
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