The minimum viable product is a concept of which meaning has been slightly distorted. Hence the failures of startups, and even companies with a well-established market position, investing too much time and resources in adapting a product that ultimately may not find a buyer at all. What exactly is the problem?
MVP is not a product but a way to check, whether your assumptions are correct. Startup is a risky venture, largely based on assumptions. We assume at every step: who our customers are, what functions should our product have, what needs the market demonstrates. A mistake on any of the stages can cost us a lot.
Where is your mistake?
First off all - you misjudge the minimum. MVP is not the development of a basic product version, but a variant that will allow you to gain the necessary feedback. Startup creators are often afraid that releasing an article, which is not perfect will harm their reputation and make it difficult for later functioning of their company. This misconception yields with unnecessary increase in costs and work. Of course, offering good quality products to consumers is important. However "good" does not mean "perfect". Instead of wasting time and money on improving the product, in which validity you doubt, transfer part of the task to the customers. Challenge them – give them an interesting problem to solve, and you will see that will pay off!
Go with a RAT
If you think a problem is a problem, you are assuming. This is also the case when you are forecasting a solution to this dilemma. Some of the assumptions are a small risk for the venture, others - decide on its failure. So instead of wasting precious time on creating a assumptions based product, test out the most risky of the theses. Here comes the RAT (Riskiest Assumption Test) that lets you to determine, which of the assumptions about the product and its presence in the market is the most risky and gives you opportunity to test it "in vivo."
The two most important questions that you should ask yourself are:
1. Which of my assumptions is the most risky?
2. What is an easiest and fastest way to test it?
The key here are the mini-tests, which are the smallest experiments that can be done to test the biggest assumptions. How small should be the test? Well, for example let's use Google Glass, which prototype was created within ... one day.
- the tested subject doesn’t have to be the product - it may be a sample, a mockup, a prototype,
- the test must be viable - real and simple.
Take a risk and count
It is paradoxical, that often the biggest obstacle to the development of the offer are product managers and people involved in its creation. Their professionalism tells them to strive for perfection, and what do you do with a perfectly made product that no one needs? Trust the client. If your product is to be an app – release the prototype and let your audience show you its weakness and strangeness. Are you building a website? Publish beta version, then track user traffic, share survey, follow comments.
The key to successful testing is not just data collection but also the proper analysis. Risk, which is probability of occurring of events that can harm your project, can be measured and expressed in numbers. No information you collect from your customers will matter much if you don’t include them in numerical statements and charts, that will let you to draw as many valid conclusions as possible.
Startups, which have disappeared from the business map, usually followed unproven assumptions. If you don’t want to share their fate, taking part in the funeral of your company, start with RAT implementation.