This blog post was written by Blake Stone, Business Analyst at TechAlliance.
In the past, if you were an entrepreneur with the next big idea and the skills to execute on it, you may have followed the traditional product development strategy of “If you build it, they will come”. This strategy is antiquated and will leave you chasing other entrepreneurs who have adopted the superior mindset of building a minimum viable product (MVP).
An MVP is a way for entrepreneurs to begin the process of learning even before a fully functional product is built. Unlike a prototype that focuses on solving technical questions and bugs, a MVP answers a business hypothesis. The goal is to learn what your early customers like and dislike about your product before you go ahead and spend thousands of dollars (sometimes millions) building the entire thing.
The MVP’s Purpose
The overarching goal and purpose of an MVP is to learn. Learn who your customers are, learn if they even need or want what you have, learn what features they like and dislike, and learn how they interact with your product. The process of building and testing an MVP is by no means the quickest way to get to market, but it is the best way to get to market with a product that customers want. The quickest way to success is to start the processing of learning, and to start early.
How Dropbox did it
By now, almost everyone with an internet connection knows about the user-friendly easy-to-use file-sharing tool called Dropbox. But Dropbox did not become ubiquitously known overnight. The process of creating a file sharing service that links across Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android would take years to develop and the Dropbox team wanted to answer a very important question before building such a technically complicated product ,“If we provide a superior file sharing service and customer experience, will people give our product a try”? The team set out to answer this question and they did it through what you may have guessed, an MVP. They created one of the most minimalist MVP’s you can make, a video.
The video is a simple four-minute demonstration that is narrated by the CEO himself and as he narrates, the viewer is watching him navigate the array of functions Dropbox is capable of. As you’re watching, you will start to notice that the files being moved are imbedded with jokes and funny references that were geared toward the personalities of the product’s early adopters. The result of this simple, informative, and humorous MVP was that it drove “hundreds of thousands of people to the website” and that “the beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people literally overnight.” It didn’t take much to learn if people would give Dropbox a try and the MVP significantly reduced the risk of spending years building a product that no one wanted.
TechAlliance’s MVP Lab
The success of young entrepreneur’s MVPs (like Dropbox) over the years has driven TechAlliance to develop an MVP Lab here in London, Ontario. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur with the next big idea, our recently created MVP Lab can connect you with designers to create an MVP and with business analysts to guide you through the MVP learning process. To learn more, visit the MVP Lab website and/or follow us on twitter, @MVPLabLdn.