10 Awesome MVPs from Lean Startup Machine

Posted by Trevor Owens on

This is my talk from Ignite: Lean Startup in NYC. Definition of MVP - "That version of a new product that will allow a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort." -Eric Ries Another way of thinking about it: The goal of an MVP is get to a pivot in as short amount of time as possible. I group the MVPs we see at Lean Startup Machine that lead to pivots into four categories (three out of the four require no code):
  • Survey: conversation or questionnaire with the target customer.
  • Mockup: visual of the product.
  • Concierge MVP: manual delivery of the product (ie. the value prop)
  • Product: functioning code
  1. Better Alternative: try to sell customers of the existing market leader on why your proposed product is better.
  2. Scene of the Customer: go where the highest geographic density of your customer or use case is.
  3. Doppleganger: find someone already executing on your idea, do they have paying customers?
  1. Decreasing Discount: with a mockup your are poised to collect money from customers, when you close your first customer be sure to offer a large discount. If the large discount is not accepted, that's some invalidation. If they accept, continue to decrease that discount.
  2. Innovator: there are people out there already solving the problem you're focused on, find them and see if you can productize their tactics.
Concierge MVP
  1. One Use Case: cut out 95% of the development time by making your product only function in under one use case. In this example, the team had a content search engine that only worked when the user searched for "geometry," and they would guide the user through the product over the phone.
  2. Real Life Simulation: if you're dealing with a new form of interaction or a game, try to simulate it in real life first.
  3. Meta: have your customer design the first version of your product.
  1. Menu: if your not sure what to build, have a bunch of fake features and see what people click on the most.
  2. Conversation starter: the key to getting good feedback is getting your customers attention and activating their imagination. Try to use a gimmick wherever possible.
MVP vs CustDev Hack In retrospect, many of these may be better deemed CustDev hacks. The difference between a CustDev hack and an MVP is that an MVP is a full-fledged experiment, ie. MVP includes setting assumptions, identifying the riskiest one, and deciding to pivot or persevere based on learnings. The cleverness by which you test your assumptions and gather learnings is a CustDev hack. Just remember: MVP = Experiment, not code.