You have an idea. This idea is different. You want to bring it to the world. It might be a new spin on something old or perhaps something that has never been done before. If your assumption is correct, there is a market for this, a business to be made, value had. So what do you do? It takes a lot time and resources to build an entire business and you are at the very beginning. Startups fail. That is the rule; that is what they do. Startups that don’t fail are the exception to the rule. Why do most fail? There are so many reasons why, but that is another article. So let’s not fail, let’s build an impactful MVP (minimum viable product).
To have a successful MVP you need to show why your idea is divergent, why it deserves attention. An idea is just an idea, but the market requires proof. Your MVP is your proof that one, your idea is different, two, it solves a problem and, three, you are the team that can build a company out of it because you built the MVP that does points one and two. If you want your project to have a second breath of life past birth (MVP completion) you need to impress.
This is what you need to know about building an MVP:
1) Know the problem – In order to solve the problem you need to know the problem. Identify exactly what the problem is and know every aspect of it. You should be able to explain the problem to someone in one sentence and the this other person should know exactly what you are talking about. “You know this problem? Well yeah, we fix that. Do I have your attention now?”
2) Know the target – Who has this problem? How many people have this problem? If you know this then you know your market size, how you should brand and where you can find them. Does your solution match the realities of your demographic? Will they pay for your solution?
3) Feature creep – Often when teams brainstorm about the idea there are a lot of statements that begin with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”, “What if the user could…”, “And if we added…” These are “feature creeps”, features that creep into a project and distract from the one thing that makes your idea different. Stay focused and show investors, users and partners the clean & clear truth that is your solution.
4) Budget – Related to “feature creep”, you have a limited budget, so keep your MVP focused. I write this assuming you have a limited budget. If you don’t, and money is no object, then please contact me, I have many ideas to pitch. The purpose of an MVP is to validate (or invalidate) an idea because it is still a theory. You build an MVP to test your theory, but remember that businesses are not built upon theory. Don’t waste your money by adding extra features to a theory; spend just enough to properly test your theory, then pivot and adapt till either your idea is exhausted or you get traction. As Thomas Edison said regarding the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He was in the business of creating light and not did not worry if the consumer would like his lamp design or throw in a lampshade. He tested only what he needed to until he got it right.
5) Speed – The nice thing about an MVP is you are forgiven for not having all the bells and whistles. The purpose of an MVP is to garner interest and attention. So spec out your MVP and keep the time frame short. Do you want to know if your idea has merit next month or waste a year of your life and money to find that the idea just doesn’t have a market? So test your theory early and often. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Mona Lisa was painted over many times.
6) Win advocates – Early adopters are your best weapon; treat them right. They are the users that “get” your idea and know the problem completely. They feel the pain so much that they are willing to try anything, including using your…and let’s be honest…barely usable solution. They want to believe in you and their pain will show you the way. Know them, engage with them and never leave them behind because they will convert more new users for you in the future than any other means.
7) Data…big and small – Measure both the problem and results. What is the point of testing your MVP unless you measure both the before and after? Time saved, productivity increase and x times profitability are all the talking points you will need to have when marketing to new customers or approaching investors. Brush up on your Excel skills and crunch the numbers. As Mark Twain said: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
Mark is the CEO of a mobile and web digital development agency with offshore in Bulgaria. The company guides startups in building their MVP and helps multi-nationals be more agile in the mobile sphere. Coming from a marketing and entertainment background he consults and mentors on strategy for many new ventures. www.futurist-labs.com