The Pains of Developing an MVP and How to Overcome Them

The fabled MVP has become the new sexy word to throw around when it’s time to develop a new application, company, or product.

MVP (or minimum viable product) is meant to achieve a concept called Product Market Fit as quickly as possible. The MVP allows for small improvements based on real feedback—as opposed to  the traditional school of thought,  which is to try to launch publicly with what we think is our final, perfected product.

Think the quiet and inexpensive growth of Airbnb vs the giant release of the first iPhone.

While the concept of the MVP is a great concept, and it does work very well when executed properly, proper execution is extremely difficult. I’ve found there are generally 3 killers:

Ego Trumps All

A lot of people’s ego get in the way of the process. They want the software or the website to be “perfect” in their eyes, without really a care to the consumer.

When this is brought up, the response is usually, “oh, I know what the consumer wants.” Followed by endless meetings trying to justify why no one is buying the product or using the fancy new app.

The problem is a lot of people have issues with putting something out into the wild that they don’t deem as perfect. They chase down rabbit holes looking at issues that defeat the whole purpose of doing the MVP process in the first place.

A graph at the end of this article shows the concept of MVP a bit better too.

I’ve seen several situations where the owner of a start up developing an MVP basically ignored all of the consumer feedback (either justifying how it wasn’t the right client, or justifying how it was a one-off that wouldn’t affect the market as a whole). Instead, he only focused on his experience with the application, ruining the entire product along with it.

The Importance of Money & Time

A lot of times people hear the fantasy stories and the “cases” of Airbnb, Snapchat, or similar apps and hyper focus on the fact that it was low cost or even free (outside of time invested) to develop their app.

They then lose focus of the fact that:

  1. The exceptions are not the rule
  2. Their app isn’t nearly as revolutionary or “new” as they think it is (and definitely isn’t new to the market)

Businesses run on money. Even those one-off stories required VC or angel investment soon after they got noticed in the market. Servers need to be maintained, employees need to be paid, customers need assistance, and so on.

It’s So Misunderstood

The point of this is really quite simple:

You get a basic working version of some feature or product to the end user as fast as possible, and then continue doing that. You’re collecting validated learning experience to build consumers exactly what they want.

It’s also a methodology, not just a single product. It’s constantly working on improving and upgrading the product to fit the consumer need. This meme does a great job of explaining:

Original Image: Making sense of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – and why I prefer Earliest Testable/Usable/Lovable by Henrik Kniberg