MVP is probably the most mis-used word in Lean Startup. According to Eric Ries and MVP is:
“The MVP is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”
That is quite vague, isn’t it? We’ve seen corporates spent up to € 200k in development cost to create their first MVP, agencies using the word MVP for a product that does not have enough budget, but have also seen startups spent only half an hour on their MVP to get it out and start learning.
At NEXT Amsterdam we decided to drop the word MVP and use solution experiment, prototype, or first version instead.
A solution experiment can be a very simple landing page or a paper mock up to test your idea for a solution with potential customers. No need to really build anything, you just want to validate your assumptions, before you can continue to build a prototype or your first version of a working product.
A prototype can be a proof-of-concept or just a static HTML version of your web product. Get the prototype hacked together with as few resources and in as little time as possible to test your solution. Only when your customers try your prototype, you really learn what they want. If it doesn’t scale, it is often a good experiment. Make use of the concierge model or Wizard of Oz to remove hard to build components, use web services to outsource everything that is not your core-business and get that prototype out in two weeks.
First versions of your product usually only include the bare minimum needed to solve the problem your customer has. No fancy smancy, just what is needed. People say that “if you’re not embarassed about your first version you launched to late” and it is definitely (partly) true. We see a lot of entrepreneurs who are afraid to launch. Let’s just add X, no we still need Y. It is scary to launch, we know. But launch as fast as possible so you can start learning from your mistakes and more important, to start iterating to something that works.