Sunday is almost here, and once again we hear “MVP” buzzing in the air. We watch Peyton Manning in car commercials, Colin Cowherd on ESPN, and replays of season highlights as mention of who will be outstanding in this year’s Superbowl floats through our TV every few minutes. Yet, for people who follow startups and study their architectures (like us and many of you reading this), each mention of MVP may trigger a very different thought–and it often does. When someone says MVP, we often think of the Minimum Viable Product. Whether or not you like football, if you are interested in business and startups you will probably like to hear more about this tool.
The Minimum Viable Product has been covered on the blog before, and can be one of the most valuable players in your lean startup. Consider how easy it is to design an MVP for a service on the web. For example, look in on modelsforadvocates.com. Models For Advocates is a startup geared towards lawyers in the United States and beyond. This innovative company uses additive manufacturing to create models for trial attorneys that are often highly accurate. For example, they create models of patient disease or injury from CT scans. The point, here, is not the Models For Advocates idea; rather, look at their website and see where they are in their lean startup lifecycle. This website, hosted by wix.com, was straightforward to put together per the team’s report. This was created in approximately 25 minutes and is geared towards learning whether there is a market for this service before the team goes live. Granted, the team has the expertise and equipment to fulfil orders etc. However, now, the team is testing what the demand is for this product and service before it iterates, pivots, or moves on. It designed the most spare service that would deliver its value proposition and is testing it with potential customers. Consider just how inexpensive it can be to do this nowadays.
This Minimum Viable Product creation has also been utilized by other startups. Consider, for example, the team Provider Lifestyle Experts. Provider Lifestyle Experts provides virtual assistants, information, and lifestyle improvement techniques to healthcare providers in the United States and beyond. This is a membership fee structure where healthcare providers pay to access a team of virtual assistants and obtain a certain useful information regarding lifestyle management. Interestingly, the Provider Lifestyle Experts team has created a similar website to the Models for Advocates team. The Provider Lifestyle Experts team has created a website with a signup box to gauge interest before proceeding on with the idea.
In both cases, we see an approach to startups which is relatively iterative, inexpensive, and straightforward. Creation of an MVP, again that product or service that has the least number of frills for which customers will pay, is key in lean startup methodology. Remember, the MVP or its best friend the Minimum Viable Service (MVS) will gauge exactly what potential clients will pay for and how much they will pay. It has other distinct advantages, such as being the easiest product to manufacture or service to render and can often be useful in that it can focus on things like interchangeable parts or other facets that make it relatively straightforward to build and create. Again, this is the attraction to the MVP and MVS: they allow us an ease of manufacturing and creation.
When we watch the Superbowl, we are seeing much more than an MVP. We are seeing a mature production that has progressed far beyond the minimum for which people will pay. As startups progress and mature, the need for the MVP will likely reduce or at least change. The manufacturing process may become more refined, the service may become more intricate, and the experiment (the startup) may find success with iterating toward what customers want beyond the MVP. Watching the Superbowl can remind us, by way of contrast, that the MVP is usually a spare and straightforward product.
In the end, our team on the blog can tell you something about what the MVP will be this coming Sunday in the Super Bowl, and in fact, everyday. The MVP will always be that product that is the minimum product for which customers will pay at an appropriate level. We invite you to utilize MVP techniques in your startup and have seen these used to great effect in our experience with multiple startup teams. For more information regarding the startups described here please feel free to leave a comment or contact them directly on the websites listed.
Any other comments or thoughts? Let us know.