Recently, a friend with an entrepreneurial streak came up with yet another business idea (hey, Hubert!) My first instinct was to strongly suggest that he make an MVP, or minimum viable product, of his project to test its potential. He was not familiar with the concept and unfortunately reading the Wikipedia page about the topic was very demanding, so here is a small summary of what an MVP is!
The term ”minimum viable product” was coined by Eric Ries, who wrote about the concept in his book The Lean Startup (very interesting, I recommend it). The idea is to scale back the product or service you want to offer to its core basis & put it in the hands of consumers corresponding to your target customers.
Obviously, our first instinct is to think that it would be negative for the image of the company to present a product that is not perfect and/or entirely finished. But many entrepreneurs will agree that it is by far more dangerous to put time and money into developing a product than, ultimately, nobody wants. The concept of the MVP not only validates the overall market potential of the product, but also to see what added value appeal to the costumer, how they actually want to use the product, etc. After all, all entrepreneurs think they have the idea of the century – no one starts a business thinking of going bankrupt, yet one in two companies does not break the five-year mark.
I did an MVP without knowing it with Capelio, offerint different pieces in few, carefully-selected stores. The idea was to test the general interest of the client, but also the motivations behind the purchase, under what circumstances and for what purpose she was buying, etc. Now I think such tests should be done systematically from the beginning to test a project.
In fact, the MVP does not only serve to validate a product or service when creating your business; it can be applied at different stages, for example to evaluate a tweak on your website or a new HR program for your employees. The principle stays the same : the project is reduced to its simplest form and we get a sample of people to use it – and voila!