What is the best strategy to build an MVP?
I often have discussions with founders about their startup ideas and could see a large difference with their confidence level. People naturally hesitating about - is it a good idea and should they heavily invest their money and (what is far more important) their time. The common question is being asked there: what will the best strategy for them to build an MVP? Answering this question over and over again I came up with 3 strategies.
But before we start, let me define MVP meaning briefly. I was able to see some different interpretations, but I prefer a common one (according to Wikipedia, MacMillan dictionary, techopedia), saying that MVP (minimum viable product) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and to provide feedback for future product development. So it's should serve 3 key criteria: a) to be a product, b) to satisfy client needs and c) to provide feedback for further development.
And if even one of the criteria doesn't meet - then it's not an MVP. For example, you want to build a pizza-making robot. You don't make robot yet, but you personally come home to your client, cooked him a pizza and also asked him dozens of question about how he plans to use a robot and what expect from it. So as you could see there are only 2 of 3 criteria met: b) satisfy a need (client get his pizza) and c) you get tons of feedback. But there is no product, so obviously, this is an interesting, insightful experiment, but it's not an MVP.
Now let's get back to our strategies. So there is 3 of them:
1) Unconfident. Execute when you are purely experimenting and have no real feeling about is your idea a brilliant one. You really should try to minimize costs and time effort for the experiment. So just make idea sharp, cut everything which isn't really important, hire the cheapest possible professionals to implement it. Be ready to poor quality and dozens of problems. Your goal there - just to validate your hypothesis. Try it in real life and if it's working and it's worth of your efforts - just throw MVP away completely and rebuild it from scratch with a decent team and knowledge, that this is a valuable thing. And if it's doesn't work - your cost to know that is the lowest possible.
2) Balanced. Execute it if you understand that idea is valuable but there should be some experiments in exact implementation and business model fine-tuning or maybe even a pivoting. For this strategy, you need a balanced team with both high professional specialists and younger/cheaper professionals. Where real pros build the backbone of your system/business and junior one allow you to be more flexible with implementation details and give an opportunity to experiment rapidly. This strategy works well with the Agile approach.
3) Full power. Execute when you absolutely confident in what you are doing. This is pretty simple - you just need the best possible professionals to implement it the best possible way faster. Works well with both Agile and Waterfall approach.
Thanks for reading. If you need some help with your MVP or startup we in Centaurea are ready to help.
P.S. MVP should not be your first action for building a startup. Solid analytics and feedback gathering work should be done on some prior steps. And then it's nice to have a prototyping phase and only after that - there is MVP coming. My next article will be about prototype vs MVP, how the prototype influences your MVP and why you can't avoid an MVP phase with a detailed prototype.