An MVP (Minimal Viable Product) is an excellent way to build and launch fast. Once launched you can quickly get feedback from customers and iterate. However I find that sometimes teams lose focus and fixate on the minimal at the cost of viability, or vice-versa. This is my definition of a good MVP:
- A good MVP is lovable
- A good MVP provides unique value
- A good MVP takes risks
- A good MVP steals good ideas
Make it lovable
The days of ‘move fast and break things’ is over, customers and communities expect better now. Slapping an interface over a database is minimal, but it will likely cause all sorts of user experience problems. Problems put your viability at risk. Even if you spend an extra week on usability improvements you can lower that risk. MV&LP.
Demonstrate the USP
Highlight and test the things that make you stand out, not the mundane must-haves, the USP (Unique Selling Point). If your MVP only matches the features of your peers and competitors, they will continue to dominate, they are more mature and bigger than you are. Take advantage of your small size, add useful features no one else has, by the time they can react you’ll have iterated and improved.
An MVP is the perfect opportunity to take risks. Sprinkle in some more interesting or off-the-wall ideas. As long as the foundation is viable, and you have a USP you can also test the waters with ideas you aren’t sure about. In MVP iteration is cheap you’ve got nothing to lose, embrace failing fast, you might find that next big thing.
Steal good ideas
It’s unlikely that you’re building something completely unique. If your peers or competitors do something well, take inspiration and cherry-pick the best parts of different offerings.
It’s also important to avoid focusing on the solved problems in an MVP. For example account creation is a feature almost every product needs. Use common patterns customers recognise. Build quickly, and spend the time you saved reinventing the wheel to build your unique and risky ideas. Get boring features working and viable, optimise later.