Every start-up goes through its first product launch, which is deemed one of the most critical moments for any company and its founder. It is the first touchpoint with your potential customers, which can either make or break your company’s future. One pervasive thing that many founders overlook and do not consider is the common dos and don’ts before your product launch. Of course, founders face many challenges daily, and our most recent blog covers them in detail. When it comes to starting up, these challenges can be avoided well before your first product goes live. Before we dig deep into this, let us first understand what an MVP is.
What Is A Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the early prototype of a product launched to get the initial users who can validate the idea and provide reliable feedback. Think of it this way; you have an insane start-up idea; well, it might sound like a viable opportunity, but before you fully build it, you want to get initial traction from early users. So you start building a basic prototype with limited functionality, meaning it has enough features that your customer will need to use and test. Once you have this, you launch it to a few early adopters who engage with it, share relevant feedback, and let you know whether or not it has the potential to succeed. In a nutshell, this entire process that involves ideation, prototyping, designing, and launching it to your early adopters is called building a minimum viable product.
Does Every Start-Up Need To Build An MVP?
Yes, yes, and yes! We couldn’t stress enough the importance of building an MVP for every start-up. Let’s take Airbnb as an example. Its founders wanted to make a few quick bucks when there was an influx in the crowd coming to San Francisco for a conference. So, what did they do? They looked at the overbooking problem and decided to rent their place to the visitors by developing a simple web page with just enough details to convince three customers to book it! So in this sense, you could consider its web page MVP, and its first three customers were its early adopters.
Similarly, every start-up at its initial phase should look into developing its MVP, as this will help you validate your idea, question your strategies, and receive relevant client feedback. It also saves you money, time, and resources as you only build a limited prototype with enough functioning instead of entirely investing in a full-fledged product. Even in Airbnb’s scenario, the founders, instead of investing $5000 to build a full-fledged app, probably invested less than $500 to create a simple webpage that could have the same functionalities.
The DO’s & DON’TS Of Building A MVP
DO Analyze The Need For Your Product
Many start-ups fail because they can’t recognize the actual need for their product in the market. As a founder, the idea sounds perfect and viable, but in the end, only your customers can validate it in the market. So the moment you think of an idea, analyze it, put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and see whether it fills the need and solves a problem in the market.
Take Coca-Cola, one of the world’s leading beverage companies, as an example. They’ve also made their fair share of mistakes when understanding the market in the initial years. In the early 1980s, when Coke saw a decline in sales, it introduced a new type of Coke, which was sweeter than its original version. They assumed that people would get hooked on it, which they did, so they decided to replace all the original coke with the new version. They failed to factor in understanding the market, meaning people were already emotionally attached to the original coke. So when the new ones started replacing the original coke, people were highly disappointed, leading to a colossal flop. Eventually, they had to bring back the original coke, which was a costly mistake for the multinational.
To conclude, start-ups can’t possibly make such expensive mistakes as Coke did, as they can’t afford the risk. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for them to take proactive measures, such as conducting proper market research, rather than reactive ones.
DO Launch It ASAP
Founders focus too much on the tiniest details when developing their MVPs. This will eventually set you back because you will miss the first-mover advantage. Living in an era where a new start-up takes birth every hour, don’t waste your time on such minor details! See if your product has the basic functionality and launch it ASAP because you can always upgrade and add more features later.
But how do you move in this direction? Firstly, you can start by considering your idea and seeing the big picture. Now, let’s break it down into more minor features and tasks. Then comes the prioritization part, where you need to prioritize features based on their effect on customer acquisition/retention and other factors like complexity, budget time, etc. Finally, create a product roadmap with milestones to launch the product in parts. If you need more assistance, hop on a free consultation call with TNL’s MVP Experts, and we’ll be happy to help you!
DO Delegate & Leverage Expertise
Building a business is about more than just the idea or the technology. Now let’s go back and read that once again! A well-cooked mix of business planning, technology, brand awareness, marketing, and similar spices prepares a successful business. Unless you’re a master of all trades, delegating the work you aren’t experienced/skilled in is always better.
Think you have a disruptive tech idea or are you tech-savvy? Then you can put your mind and efforts into building the right product & scale. Even hire marketing consultants to sell and market your innovation. Or a business veteran who’s skilled in operations and money? Then you can onboard folks for technology who can build the software for your business.
You can spend weeks & weeks learning the technology and still might need to learn how to apply it.
If you’re planning to/currently working with interns, don’t forget to read this!
India is brimming with young talent, especially regarding the core personnel of a ‘startup’,’ like technical, creative, and finance roles. And we see a lot of founders looking for college interns to build their MVPs. While that reduces development costs to some extent, it’s not recommended. College students ordinarily lack practical/hands-on experience working on a stable, smooth-running business. A team of interns can implement well-established product requirements. Still, when you build a business from the ground up, you require a lot of brainstorming, subject knowledge, and agility, things you wouldn’t find in every other college student. On the other hand, an experienced senior will be able to visualize the big picture, guide your start-up in the right direction, and be quick on the execution thanks to their previous experience in a business. Just like our grandparents, they know their stuff!
As a non-tech (and solo) founder, it is almost impossible to manage everything from ideation to hiring developers and building a product when the requirements keep changing every day (trust us, it happens. But not to worry, it’s usually a good sign!) A decorated army of creative, expert-in-their-field leaders can take your idea way beyond your expectations.
DONT Neglect Customer Feedback
For every business, the most important asset is its customers. Launching an MVP is to introduce your product to its first customers and take in their feedback constructively. If you fail to do so, your customers might not benefit from your app, and you risk losing business due to its inefficiencies. A continual feedback mechanism in the initial stages of your product development will keep your business on the right track and your customers happy.
DONT Overload Your MVP With Features
By overburdening your product with multiple features, you delay its launch and overcomplicate it for your early adopters. These constant updates and new features might cost you more and increase your overall budget. To make it simple, stick to the basics, and launch it to solve a problem. And never stop iterating, never!
Take the example of a to-do application! This simple concept has been seen in mobile apps since their inception. Today t apps are so featureful and super-powered that most of us can’t function without one. Think about it: this massive evolution was possible only due to the never-ending product iterations and growth cycle!
DONT Lose Hope If Your MVP Fails
When you launch your MVP in the market, and it’s not getting the expected response, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. Remember that every MVP is merely a tool for validation, so there’s always room for further improvement. So never think of it as a failure; think of ways to improve your product. Take a different strategy and look at it from the client’s perspective.