Minimum Viable Products and Minimum Marketable Products

Develop the product for the few, not the many. - Steve Blank

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product that offers the minimum amount of features to be viable to a subset of initial customers. These tend to be early adopters, people who understand the base problem enough to envision the product’s potential moving forward. An MVP is essentially a learning tool, it allows you to see if there is a market for your product as well as providing a feedback loop for future development.

Creating an MVP should not be time-consuming, even simple sketches or a Word doc can be enough to gain insight from early adopters. While there are sometimes costs involved with building an MVP, the point is to validate your idea before putting a lot of time and money into development. Your MVP should be your intro into the build-measure-learn loop, a system implemented by The Lean Startup. Some examples of MVPs, like a landing page or explainer video, can actually turn into marketing tools once the product is developed and pushed to market.

The Build-Measure-Learn Cycle

Image: Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

• MVP= Minimum Viable Product
• Used as a learning tool to ensure your idea is viable.
• Avoid building something no one wants.
• Provides a feedback loop for future development.

Examples of MVPs: • A Landing Page
• Wireframes and Mockups
• An Explainer Video
• A Single Feature Offered
• Running a Google Adwords Campaign
Scale My Business gives great examples of MVPs and how to use them.

What is a Minimum Marketable Product?

A minimum marketable product (MMP) is sort of a tangible MVP. Once you have used various versions of MVPs to discover and validate the problem you are trying to solve, you will use the information you gathered to build the simplest solution. This means paring down your product until you reach the smallest feature sets that can still be released.

The benefit of an MMP is reducing time-to-market. Getting your product out into the hands of early adopters not only starts bringing in revenue, but continues the feedback loop for development and growth. Some people worry that putting out a product without all the bells and whistles will be met with a lot of negative feedback when in actuality the problem they should be concerned with is no feedback at all. For example, let’s say you had plans to offer feature sets X, Y, and Z, and early users complain about the lack of X. Not only does this validate the additions you were going to develop anyway, you discovered Y and Z may not be necessary at this stage. This type of engagement helps to retain early adopters (also referred to as internal evangelists) and turns them into your biggest advocates. It also helps save you time and money on developing a feature-heavy product that may not be what your customers want.

Creating a minimum marketable product does not mean skimping on things like user experience, design, or quality. Remember, you still want to make a product that captivates, something that end users will fall in love with. Making an MMP simply means focusing on the core problem you are trying to solve and delivering a clear, concise solution. When building your MMP, it’s important to constantly ask yourself, “What is the smallest or least complicated problem that the customer will pay us to solve?”

How to Spot an Early Adopter/Early Evangelist:

Alt text Image: Steve Blank

• MMP= Minimum Marketable Product
• Reduces time-to-market
• Delivers minimum solution while simultaneously receiving value (get paid from day one)
• Must offer enough benefits to retain early adopters.

Examples of MMPs:
• The first iPhone (no search, copy/paste, or voice command features)
• Google (simple search)
• Dropbox

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Tracy Lasseter




Thoughts on building great products

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