November 1, 2012
Part 2 of the Lean Startup Quick Reference Guide deals only with the Minimum Viable Product, (MVP). The MVP is a key concept of the Lean Startup Movement and sits in contrast to what is known as the Water Fall Method of Development. The main difference being that the Water Fall Method is about developing a product that is "perfect" before you launch it. The MVP method puts our the rawest of products to the earliest of adopters and tests each piece of the product/service with the customer, utilizing cold hard feedback and data usage as to what continues to get developed or not.
This model means a startup is constantly customer facing, and constantly building a customer usage database, which the "traditional" model simply does not have.
1) Minimum Viable Product or MVP is the smallest product or service that you can create and start learning from. It is the first, workable, bare bones model that can be produced.
a) Customer Archetype: Humanize the target market and let this guide your decisions about your product development and resources allocation.
b) Know what you know, and know what you don't know. i.e. When Apple built the iPod it knew people would listen to music in public wearing earphones. What Apple did not know was whether or not people would pay for digital music, especially based on the then recent mass adoption of Napster. So Apple built their startup on a leap of faith but they knew what they knew and knew what they did not know.
c) You need very little to "launch" a new product or service, at least for the purpose of testing to see if it has any traction.
d) The objective is to attract early adopters, they will put up with "bugs" or incomplete service in exchange for being early and being seen to be innovative. They also will give feedback to improve, which leads to broader adoption.
The entire Lean Startup methodology is based around the need for startups to get their product to market as fast as possible. It's not about being a stealth startup, it's not about getting the perfect product on your first try, it's about iterating, and iterating as much as possible through the feedback of your first adopters.