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What is a minimum viable product (MVP)?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development. It may also involve carrying out market analysis beforehand.

Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increase costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions. The term was coined and defined by Frank Robinson about 2001, and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.

A minimum viable product has just those core features sufficient to deploy the product, and no more. Developers typically deploy the product to a subset of possible customers—such as early adopters thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. This strategy targets avoiding building products that customers do not want and seeks to maximize information about the customer per dollar spent.

An MVP can be part of a strategy and process directed toward making and selling a product to customers. It is a core artifact in an iterative process of idea generation, prototyping, presentation, data collection, analysis and learning. One seeks to minimize the total time spent on an iteration. The process is iterated until a desirable product/market fit is obtained, or until the product is deemed non-viable.

Steve Blank typically refers to MVP as minimum feature set.

Purposes:

  • Be able to test a product hypothesis with minimal resources
  • Accelerate learning
  • Reduce wasted engineering hours
  • Get the product to early customers as soon as possible
  • Base for other products
  • To establish a builder’s abilities in crafting the product required