Tag Archives: #MVP #CV #startups

You’ve Built Your MVP. What Next?

3 weeks ago we learned about failures that weren’t really failures.

Most startups fail before getting to the MVP. The #1 reason for failure, cited by 42% of polled startups, is the lack of a market in need for their product — the founder never validated his vision in the real world, so the startup failed.

That error could have been avoided by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a key Lean Startup concept popularized by Eric Ries. One of the most important lean startup techniques is called the minimum viable product.

The basic premise of an MVP is to maximize validated learning for the least amount of effort. That means creating only enough to present your idea to potential users and get feedback.

Steps to go from Idea to MVP are reasonably clear. Going from MVP to scaling is not. For sure it’s a time for fast  iteration: you listen to users, you monitor and assess metrics and you make changes that brings your product closer to a sustainable business..  

What steps should you follow when you get to MVP and your next goal is  Commercial Viability? I would divide it into 3 stages.

Explain Your Vision

What is the vision of a company?  

Your product is a relationship with your users. Beyond telling what your product will do, your vision is the roadmap of how you will get there. Releasing early and with purpose means focusing on how you are going to do the next thing, the next release, the next pitch, the next campaign. It needs to be well-defined. Develop an exciting 10 second description of your vision (in addition to your elevator pitch).

While it’s important that your vision is enticing, it’s more important that it dazzle with its clarity.  Des Traynor offers some good basics to creating a strong vision.

While fast interation based on feedback is important, you shouldn’t be looking for perfection; you should be looking for purpose, sustainability and creating relationships.

Vision is what defines the future you see for you, your customers, employees and investors. Vision is why they try new things and why they stick around even when you don’t quite get things right at first.

Measure

Build > Measure > Learn is the continuous cycle. Start measuring, so that you can learn, and then build, based on what you learn.

At this stage you are not only testing your product (Does it live up to the vision?), but also the effectiveness of your marketing channels and value proposition itself. Measuring and learning using your site analytics with a small number of users is not productive.

Check out 500 Startups’ Dave McClure’s startup metrics and the advice in this comment on BrightJourney..

 Discover Your Product / Market Fit

As Sean Ellis sees it, finding your product/market fit is the first of three pivotal phases that most startups follow.You change your product according to your market while you continue to measure. There are many online resources that offer reliable figures to help businesses discover their product/market fit or assess their market size and profit potential.

The key idea is that product/market fit isn’t a specific point in time for a startup, but an ongoing challenge. For many early stage startups, product/market fit is thought of as that point in time when you’ve finally built a product that people use and it’s time to scale.

Marc Andreesen cites Rachleff’s Corollary of Startup Success, “The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit.”Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

You know when product/market fit is happening — customers are buying as fast as you can ship or usage is growing as fast as you can add more servers.

And you also know when product/market fit isn’t happening. Of course, you can ignore the metrics and choose to believe that just a little more time and they’ll get it, thus assuring your startup will fail.

Brad Feld shares some great myths around product/market fit that everyone should read. He came up with MRR (monthly recurring revenue) as a parameter to explore  heuristics for these points and clearly laid out the dynamics around product/market fit.

The initial launch of your MVP is a big step — it means you’re putting something into people’s hands to try.

The most important lesson is to continually optimize your product’s fit in the market and minimize wasting resources by focusing on real-world experimentation, instead of making assumptions.