The MVP is a common abbreviation used in the startup world, the first thing to do once you have an idea is to do an MVP, get the product ready and start testing.
The drawbacks of doing this are
- The MVP doesn’t showcase the real potential of the business idea
- The businessperson doesn’t wanna go out and showcase as the product isn’t fully ready
- The MVP follows a development roadmap and the developers need a set of defined features thus the flexibility of the developer is questioned
- Overall both the business person and the developers need to appreciate each others working style
Having worked with quite a few startups as a program manager for a startup accelerator, here is my take on the MVP phase.
The startups need to coin the MVP Phase as “Minimum Viable Business Test Plan” Phase. The startup team have their task cut out to achieve the following
- Understanding the core feature/differentiator of the startup. Let’s take an example of
- Tinder: Swiping left swiping right is a feature that Tinder brought in to an overly crowded chat/dating online market.
- OYO Rooms: A startup that helps in lead generation for a Low end to Medium end Hotels by providing a Room Quality Checklist and endorsing the Hotel once they adhere to the quality parameters. Their MVP feature that differentiated was an optimal quality Checklist
- Understanding the task at hand, at the end of the day MVP phase is about getting Endorsement | LOI (Letter of Intent) | MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed by the Customer. This requires the startup to work in 4 areas – 1. Target Customers 2. Channels 3. Engagement 4. Unique Value.
- Getting a clear picture of the Target Customer helps the startup enhance the UI UX to cater to that market, if it’s a kid website, for example, there needs to be an appeal to them meaning bright colours, easy browsing, interactive characters and so on
- Defining the Channels helps the startup to come up with whether a website is required or any an app can do, if App then where are the target audience (more IOS or Android).
- Engagement plan helps get feedback from the target audience and helps understand the voice of the customer. A way where startups would like to know more about the customer (help cater to them better), is it at the start so they get a customized selection or at the end where once they have experience they provide a feedback
- Settling down on the top 2 unique features and developing it is very important, zeroing down on these features requires one to understand the customer lifecycle and understanding a pain or a hassle or a must-have feature.
Once this Minimum viable Business Test Plan is created, it makes it easier for the different function of the startups to work in tandem to achieve a common goal, its a pre-work before you pitch your idea and while forming the team.The outcome
- While the technical person works on the initial core feature development, he understands what the business guy is thinking about.
- The Marketing person creates a community of the target audience, thus creating an interaction with the outside world. An Example is: Trello making its feature development roadmap for the year open for the public to view
- The Businessperson works out from day one on boarding the customers with the idea and getting them to endorse if its an end user or signing up LOI and MOU with a potential client.
The end goal of the Minimum Viable Business test plan phase should be signing up users, LOI or MOU, if the startups aren’t able to do that then somewhere they haven’t been able to get everyone internally to work together.
Where does the test plan fit it in?
- Post the idea formulation
- Before kicking in the lean startup methodology
- While forming the startup team