“I have an idea!”
That’s how most products start. An idea came up to your mind, something that will wow everyone and it just sounds perfect in your head. You start making sketches, writing down ideas for your product, what is the main function, what features will have, etc. But before you keep going, ask yourself: Is my product actually going to work? Will people use it?
What is your answer?
Sometimes we encounter ourselves into thinking that every product idea will successfully solve a problem and that it seems easy to achieve. However, many products built don’t actually solve a problem for anyone. It may look beautiful, have a lot of cool features but guess what? It’s useless.
This has happened before and that’s why people rethink their ideas. The sad news is that they have already spent money behind product development and solved zero problems. People don’t use the product and there goes an idea that seemed “perfect” and “functional”.
Be careful with your ideas. They might sound fantastic but take a step back and re-think. We are not telling you that all your ideas won’t work, you have a 50/50 chance, but you have to be sure that what you are going to develop is a useful product. You don’t want to waste time, right?
But how can I be sure to achieve this? Great question! And that takes us onto the main topic of this article.
Build a product that solves a problem. But for real.
Have you heard the term MVP? And no, it is not for Most Valuable Player. However, it is a valuable product that will help you test your idea.
The first version of a product is called the Minimum Viable Product. This is the product that has only the core features that make the product work. If your MVP succeeds then you can add more features to it but before getting there you need to start with the right foot.
If we want a more specific definition we have Eric Ries’ definition, author of Lean Startup methodology. He defined MVP as:
A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
As it says, the purpose of this product is to test the demand and learn without spending much on it. Especially when you are only starting.
An MVP is a real product and people are gonna use it and/or pay for it. Your MVP needs to have a clear goal and a set of core features.
Benefits of a Minimum Viable Product
In our experience at Applaudo, we realized that most people have a distorted perception of what is an MVP. An example of what we mean is shown in the following image:
People want to start big right away, but there’s a cost behind it. Start with something small but functional and as you go, you will see what works and what doesn’t and add new features that will enhance your product.
And now, we want to enlighten you on what an MVP actually gives you:
#1 Focus on the core value proposition
When you start with a new product, you have to test your business concept. This may be the biggest benefit of developing an MVP because it allows organizations to understand the purpose of the project, the problems, the goals, define the core features, and explore possible solutions that will benefit the business and the users.
By focusing on the core set of features rather than a highly developed product, you can verify if the product concept resonates with whom you believe to be your audience, providing an opportunity to change the product’s direction based on insights and learnings. You are 100% focused on what matters, being able to define clearly, and more precisely your value proposition.
#2 Market validation
Building an MVP is all about testing. Your product may succeed or fail and that’s why you have to be sure what works and what doesn’t. Part of an MVP is to understand the market demand and how will your audience react to it. It is not wise to assume that your product fulfills a specific user need because…surprise! Either the need doesn’t exist or solutions already in the market address the pain point.
Your MVP allows you to test market demand and discover if potential users need and will use the product. Based on the results you get, you can either validate your initial idea and keep going or re-work the concept to allow for more market differentiation and come up with a new concept.
#3 Faster release
An MVP gives you a clean, simple, and most importantly, a functional product that will get released sooner.
Don’t worry about small features that are not crucial for an MVP and that maybe your users will never use it. Spend your time building a core product out to market as quickly as possible. Later on, you can evaluate if those small features can upgrade your product. The sooner you launch, the sooner you can get market validation and valuable learning. There are hundreds of cases where products with incredible development behind haven’t become viable businesses. It is all about the execution.
#4 Reduce costs and save time
You don’t want to spend a lot of money or time on something that in the end, it won’t work. An MVP helps you to prevent the product from becoming over-complicated, you will be aiming to keep it simple and functional.
As you begin to gain more users and gather more information from your MVP, you’ll know which direction to take with your product. Therefore, you can decide to begin to invest more and more intelligently or to an extreme, cut your losses early in the process and reduce financial risk.
#5 Minimize risks
If you don’t understand your user’s needs you will be creating something that they will never use.
An MVP allows you to establish the purpose of the project, uncover hidden value, and plot a path forward. The result of this research is a well-thought product with minimal effort. If your product doesn’t work you will know what failed and re-evaluate, but you won’t have spent a lot as an initial investment.
How do I build an MVP?
First of all, you need to brainstorm with your team and define the product idea. You have to be clear about what your product will do. Be very specific. This is going to be the information that will actually make up your MVP. You must filter out the core functions of the product. Just the core functions, not what are you aspiring your product to become. Remember: keep it simple.
What else should you consider? Gary Torres, Solutions Architect at Applaudo, defines the next steps to follow for your MVP.
- Surround with experts
Start with a small team but make sure you surround your idea with experts. Keep in mind that success goes far beyond the product itself. We suggest a mixture of three areas on your team to keep it sustainable: execution (to make it happen), business (to keep it running), and marketing (to expose it).
- Define your audience
It is not about thinking that your idea is for everyone or that everyone can use it. Try to define who will be your first users. They will be responsible to make your product work and make it popular around others. Take baby steps when defining your audience, don’t try to complicate at the beginning. Try to think “Who are the people who would actually pay for this if we solve their problem?” The word “pay” is key for defining your audience.
- Aim for feedback
Your MVP doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must have its core functionality focused on your audience. People should mold your product and not the other way round. As we mentioned above, an MVP is all about testing, and your audience will give you the necessary insight to help you find the right direction of your product so prepare and open channels to receive it.
- Think outside the box
A bit of a cliche but it’s true. Think of scenarios that could boost or stop your product so you have a plan for those. An example of this could be how will people get to your product? Think about how they are going to find your product, and what happens when they stop using it. What are the reasons that will make them come back?
The idea of releasing an MVP to the world is not to immediately solve a problem, it is to validate if the problem is worth solving and if the market is willing to use it and pay for it.
In our experience, we understand the main goal of an MVP and we give our customers the guidance they need to define it. We help them discover new opportunities, redefine their value proposition, and most importantly, minimize the risk of creating irrelevant products.
Remember you want a product that will stand out and deliver lasting value to your customers. Start small but wisely. An MVP can get you far, without risking too much.
A great way to define an MVP is to start with a Discovery Session. This will allow you to discover the right way to carry on your initial idea, with the professional guidance of a Software Development and Design team.
You will learn a lot during this 3 – 5 days session because they are designed to explore your project purpose and requirements, making sure that your MVP will benefit the user and your business.
So, I have a question for you. Why don’t you let us help you? We can help you create the ideal roadmap for your project before fully developing an actual product. Interested? We can tell you more about our processes.