About MVP’s and startup stepping stones

So this week I had to explain to two startups about MVP’s (Minimum Viable Products). This is a term that is widely used in startups and incubators but clearly a lot of people do not understand what it means.

An MVP is not a first working/presentable version of the product you would like to build one day. It’s a product with the minium amount of features for the product to work.

Instead of trying to build your vision, deconstruct it into very reachable stepping stones. Make sure the first stone, is really barebones. No complex frameworks, no 10 vertically integrated services, no more than 20 lines of css. Just get the mechanics right. In a tech startup, you should be able to code it over a long weekend session.

If you need colors or icons to make your core understandable then its already too complicated. If there is two ways of doing or even viewing a thing its too complicated. If there is any information on the screen that is not essential, but a nice to have feature, KILL it. It’s a distraction from getting the foundations just right.

Picking the wrong first stepping stone, or having a wobbly foundation can delay your business by months. By keeping it simple you can make sure it is robust. You can start testing from day one with real users, who at this stage do not care about design, but about functionality, flows and clarity. The next stone will become apparent as you start to use the product but when building an MVP one rule is golden: less is more.

 
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