Minimum Viable Product

Rafat Abushaban

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Summary: The most stripped down version of a product or service that provides enough value and can be released.

The Minimum Viable Product (Often referred to as MVP) is a proof of concept that a particular product or service is feasible. It is used to get the early adopters of the product or service and help attain feedback from them to build the finished product.

An MVP needs to have three main characteristics to be considered valid:

  • It has enough value that customers are willing to use it.
  • It demonstrates enough benefit to attract early adopters.
  • It helps get feedback to the business owner to develop further into a full product or service
أنواع النموذج المصغر للمنتج

Benefits of MVPs

An MVP doesn't only provide an idea on how the intended product looks and feels like, but it is also for evaluators and investors to assess key considerations in relation to the product or service intended:

  • Viability: understanding if the product can satisfy customer needs, and whether it will be sustainable to produce and sell.
  • Usability : addressing if the product is easy to understand and use by the target customers.
  • Assumptions : evaluating assumptions related to the product, and whether it will be able to address them.
  • Potential demand: Seeing the MVP up close can help decision makers estimate the potential demand for such a product

MVP for a service?

From its name, MVP focuses primarily on "products" intended for the market. However, it is possible to follow MVP principles to design and test a "service" before going all in. Take for example

Proof of Concept (POC) Vs. MVP

While the MVP gives a basic working model that can be implemented and deployed into production, there are other forms of models that can be developed in the same vein. Take the Proof of Concept (POC) for instance, that offers a proof on the technical/operational feasibility of the concept. A POC can be considered as a simpler version of an MVP that is developed for internal use and to get necessary approvals before developing the concept further.

POCs are popular and are often used by software companies and technology-based businesses. Here, pitching a new idea to management need to have a proof that it could technically work and that it is feasible to some degree. In such scenarios, POCs are much easier to develop and present instead of MVPs as they cover a small part of the intended system or finished product. POCs can be easily differentiated as they are used internally within companies and presented for technical and subject-experts- not the target audience. POCs can also be used in startup hackathons that are limited in time where a full MVP will be difficult to obtain.

Prototyping Vs. MVP

Another key term that is also commonly used is Prototyping. A prototype is similar to POC in that it is developed for internal approvals and to develop the concept further, but differs in that it is targeted towards understanding how the product or service will work. It can be less abstract than the POC, but also less operational than the MVP.

Prototypes are the missing links between POCs and MVPs. They are simple and easily developed like the POC, but not as abstract. Also, they provide an idea on how a product or service will work, but not as clear as an MVP. A prototype is usually developed by a team with diversified experiences so that the end result has multiple aspects of the intended product or service.

(Proving concept, less mature)
(Technical model to test how product will perform. Technically more mature than POC)
(A working model on how the product or service will look and work before moving to production)

Examples on MVPs

MVPs can be of different types, such as:

  • MVPs start their lives as product designs using Sketches, Wireframes, and Mockups.
  • Demo Videos for showcasing how the product or service will be applied.
  • Online web Pages, showcasing the design and layout of the intended product.
  • Physical presentation of the intended product or service in an early version.
  • Mobile app early versions presented to view how the app will look and feel.
  • Lastovetska A. Key Minimum Viable Product Examples MLSdev. Accessed Dec, 2020
  • What is a MVP. Technopedia. Accessed 5th May 2018.
  • Sharma R. (2017) How to define your Minimum Viable Product. Medium. Accessed 5th May 2018.
  • Minimum Viable Product Figure The Deming Institute. Accessed 5th May 2018.
  • MVP Vs Prototype Vs POC – A Complex Choice of Strategy Made Simple. Spec. Accessed 16th Jan 2019.
  • Rafat Abushaban

    Founder of Riable and consultant to several international organizations in entrepreneurship education and researcher in innovation systems and seed funding methods with 10+ years of practical experience in the MENA region, Europe, US and S.Korea
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