The Importance of an MVP

on April 17, 2013

One of the best things about working with Centresource is the ability to meet with so many people who are in the idea stage of their startup. I’m not the first one to tell you that Nashville is a booming startup city and we sure are getting some ideas with traction.

One of the conversations I’m having regularly is with idea stage startups. They talk about big applications with multiple features, large market segments and a large rollout plan. I love the enthusiasm and passion that each entrepreneur has as well as the wishful thinking. But the advice I always give is to start with an MVP and test it, test it, test it. In the startup world, an MVP refers to a Minimally Viable Product. In our fast-paced society, ideas must make it to market quickly and economically. An MVP stresses the value of early market testing, rather than spending time building up a product when you don’t even know if that product will be accepted by the market.

The advantages of getting a product to the marketplace early will allow you to test how your product translates from an idea into an actual product. Famous last words – “I think this will work”. Simply put, you do not know what you have until you can test it. At times, a product isn’t fully known what it is until it is tested in the marketplace; let potential customers play with your product since they will be the ones using it.

Time, money, and effort can make or break you. Testing your product earlier with fewer borders and more areas for improvement is critical. You discover how your product is used, who is using it, why they are using it, and where you can improve it. This valuable new data and information will be able to help guide the development and future direction for your product. By getting up-to-date, real-time data about how your product fits the needs and wants of the market, you are able to supply a helpful product more quickly and cost efficiently. Aside from saving time and resources, you’ve realized and learned valuable information that allows you to add features and continue to test. Or, it helps you learn how not to do it and pivot to what your customers want. I couldn’t say it any better than Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox: “Not launching is painful, but not learning is fatal.” Get your product out in its minimal form now so you can learn about your market, gather data, and make adjustments later.