In our first installment of Lessons from Startup Culture, we examined the importance of building a solution, not a product. What’s the difference? Many smart people have exciting ideas for new products but fail to consider whether there is a market need for that idea. In fact, 42% of startups fail because of a lack of market need for their flagship product, CB Insights reports.
A solution, on the other hand, is created based on need: entrepreneurs identify a problem that real people have and build a solution that those people will pay to implement. Here is where one of the most brilliant facets of startup culture comes into play. With limited funding and a short runway to validate their ideas, many companies begin their journey by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
You're almost across the finish line! If you've tuned into the previous installments of our “Yea or Nay” series, we have discussed strategies surrounding vetting your idea and building your initial team. Now it's time for the final step: building your minimum viable product.
The idea of an MVP was introduced to the world by Eric Ries, a Silicone Valley entrepreneur and Yale graduate, around 2008. As its name would indicate, the idea is simple. In his blog Startup Lessons Learned, Ries explains the idea of MVP as this,
“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.”
In other words, the minimum viable product is another crucial step in what I believe is the most vital key to business success: extracting as much customer feedback as possible. As N. Taylor Thompson of the Harvard Business review writes,
“In creating a minimum viable product, entrepreneurs choose between experiements that can validate or invalidate their assumptions about a business model. If your MVP is a worse product than your imagined final version, success validates your idea; failure, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily invalidate it. If your MVP offers a better experience, then failure invalidates your business model; success doesn’t necessarily validate it.”
If you're racing to the finish line of startup success, here are some simple steps for building your MVP and determining whether or not your startup approach is valid.