Now that I have made the decision to restart Websketching, I need to figure out what my minimum viable product (MVP) will look like. Since other entrepreneurs are probably trying to find theirs as well, I thought I might blog about it here 😀
What is an MVP?
A minimum viable product is defined as “a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.” (Wikipedia)
This concept was coined by Eric Reis in his book, ‘The Lean Startup.‘ The principle behind this is simple: rather than spending months or years perfecting your idea or product before trying to monetize it, figure out how you can get a viable product to market quickly … and then, build upon it over time.
Why is the MVP phase important?
The MVP phase allows you to test your product and get customer feedback so you can make adjustments and improvements while growing your customer base or community.
Launching an MVP product can help you learn what resonates with your target market … and what doesn’t.
Last, but certainly not least, if you find out that your MVP is not something that people want, or if you lose interest along the way, it is a good way to figure that out before you invest a significant amount of time or money into moving forward.
Airbnb launched with an MVP
In 2007, two product designers needed to solve the problem of how to pay their rent in San Francisco. Since they had some extra space in their living room, they wondered if anyone would be willing to pay to stay with them. They realized how hard (and expensive) it was to find a hotel room in their city, particularly during conferences, so they made an assumption that strangers would pay to stay in their house.
They did not go rent space. They didn’t buy new beds.
Instead, they tested their assumption in the easiest way possible: they set up air mattresses in their living room and offered free wifi and breakfast.
They didn’t spend months building a huge, fancy website. They didn’t try to reach a large audience.
Instead, they targeted one demographic. They targeted tech conference attendees for a single sold-out conference.
They found three. Each of them agreed to pay $80 per night, earning them a whopping $240.
Their next assumption was that other people might want to become “hosts” as well.
They focused on attracting hosts near high-profile events and kept their website’s features and design minimal.
It took them a few iterations, but they finally found the answer they needed: Yes, people are willing to host strangers in their homes for money.
Today, AirBed & Breakfast, now Airbnb, is used by millions of hosts and guests worldwide. By 2014, they were valued at $10 billion; in 2018, that jumped to at least $38 billion.
Read the whole story here.
Finding my MVP
Asking questions is a good way to help find your MVP. Here are a few to get started:
- What are my key objectives?
- What features would my ideal customer want?
- What is the simplest version of my product that could still achieve my objectives? Is this enough to get my customers started?
- How can I get feedback from my customers?
Once you have figured out what your MVP actually is, you can put together a plan of action to get it developed.
Keep in mind that just because it is a minimum viable product, it still needs to provide a high-quality user experience. It should be functional, not half-built tools and features. It also should be a working product that you will be able to sell.
Websketching will actually have multiple MVP’s. One of the cornerstones of the old Websketching was town/tourism directories. This was part of our “giving back” to the community, but also a way to showcase our clients and attract new clients.
They also brought in revenue from ad sales.
Fortunately, I have been working on a website for my own town, Phoenixville, PA, for the past few years. It’s way beyond the MVP stage, but it is as good a place as any to start. I just need to put together some sales stuff, set it up to take orders, and count the money as it rolls in 😀
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