Lean Startup: Why Minimum Viable Product Matters

Written by Dr Timothy Mansfield
Published on 19 October 2017

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Lean Startup

About the author

Tim Mansfield is a strategist, culture consultant and futures researcher, specialising in the cultural sector. He has been the CEO of the Interaction Consortium since August 2016.

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Minimum Viable Product is a term that is often used in business and marketing but it is not usually clearly defined because it's not that easy to "get". When you understand how powerful the idea is, you'll understand why minimum viable product matters.

One of the most important lean startup techniques is called the minimum viable product. Its power is matched only by the amount of confusion that it causes, because it's actually quite hard to do. It certainly took me many years to make sense of it.

Minimum viable products are precursors for larger, more complex products. Their main purpose is to test your assumptions about your product for your target market, as cheaply as you can, before you spend resources on the full product. Eric again,

…the 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.

Creating a complete product without testing assumptions first can lead to a lot of time and money wasted if it turns out it is not a good fit for your market.

To get started, you need to be certain you know,

  • Who is your target market, as clearly and concretely as possible?
  • What are you assuming about your product, its ecosystem and environment, your customers, their lives and needs?
  • How can you test each assumption?

Crafting a minimum viable product requires a lot of judgment. There is no formula to tell how to develop the right minimum viable product to test your assumptions or when the job is done enough to move forward. That requires your own judgment. 

What does assumption testing look like? It looks like experiments to test whether each piece of your idea is going to fly – split testing, smoketests, landing page signups, incremental prototypes.

We'll dive into more details on assumption testing before too long. But all those terms google well in the meantime.

The minimum viable product(s) will save you time and resources by telling you if the market wants your product or not. It can also give you a lot of feedback that will allow you to fine tune it to better serve your customers needs.

Over the last few weeks, we've been exploring more about Lean Startup, click to find out more about Lean and Agile principles and access more resources. Sign up to our newsletter for blog updates.

… if you've already got an idea and you're looking around for developers, let's have a confidential chat to see if we can help you make it real.

End of article.
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