MVP is not Minimum Viable Product

What does MVP really mean?

MVP is the acronym for “Minimum Viable Product.” That’s correct.

However, MVP does not mean minimum viable products. It’s a very common mistake that startups make.

Here's why.

What does MVP mean?

The idea is that we need

A version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learningabout customers with the least effort. — <The Lean Startup>, Eric Ries

That’s a golden idea, but the use of the word "product" can easily confuse people. If your goal is to make an electric car, you may want to build a smaller and simpler version and call it a product. However, that’s incorrect.

According to the definition, an MVP is something that can maximize the value of

It could be anything. Think out of the box.

What could a MVP?

Does such a thing have to be a product in the form you’re thinking? Not really.

Let’s say there is a game that has been pre-ordered one million times and raised 100 million because of that. Would you think the propagation of that game has provided validated learning about customers? Does it matter that there could be just a video without a single line of code? No, it doesn’t. The idea of the game has been fully proven by customers’ real money. So, this is a successful MVP because with the effort of making a video (which takes a few weeks), they gathered feedback from customers.

What else could be a MVP

Surveys. You can learn what features customers like or dislike, how much money they’re willing to pay for a specific feature.

Videos. Post a video on YouTube and see if people are excited about it. Tweets and posts on different forums are the same idea.

Crowdfunding. If you can convince others about your production idea, you probably should pursue it.

VC. Venture Capital firms are the best people to evaluate your production idea. They can’t tell you what’s a good product, but they usually can point out what are bad ones.

Basically, it could be anything. A rule of thumb is pushing back building a real product as much as possible. The easy mistake is jumping directly into doing a real thing. This is especially common for people who are engineers.

Further reading

Ries, Eric. <The Lean Startup>

Yevgeniy Brikman, <Hello, Startup>