Leveraging Minimum Viable Products to test and validate your business idea
Updated August 7, 2019
A surprising 42% of startups identify lack of market demand as the main challenge preventing them from gaining traction in their business.
In light of this discouraging reality, how can startup businesses validate that their products or concepts truly solve a problem for their intended users?
In other words: How can you ensure that your offer is not just “nice to have” but a real necessity that people care about?
Successful and established companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Dropbox addressed this issue back in their beginnings by building what is known as a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP.
What is an MVP?
The concept of MVP was popularized back in 2011 after the release of the bestselling book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, where he shared his experience and advice on building startups.
According to his definition, a Minimum Viable Product is “a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
To put it in layman’s terms, an MVP is a version of your product which contains only the essential elements or features that solve the user’s problem. The main goal of building an MVP is being able to test your assumptions and validate your idea.
Why build an MVP?
A common scenario is for startup businesses to think that when turning their concept into reality, they should deliver it from the get-go as a perfect version which contains all the necessary features to reach their target market.
The thinking here is “the more features, the more value”, which sounds intuitive in theory, but might actually have the unintended effect of making the product too complicated to use and make it harder to appreciate its value.
In practice, entering the market with a product that is simpler, more practical and easier to use proves to be more effective, helping you ensure it’s the best product for your users while also reducing initial costs.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the market might not have a need for your product to start with, and this is the biggest advantage the MVP provides, as it allows you to test and validate your idea’s viability in the market through an actual product that you can adjust and improve based on real user feedback.
Main benefits of MVPs
1) Lower cost: launching a functional MVP which is steadily refined through real user feedback allows startups to avoid investing in building features the product doesn’t really need. Building an MVP also takes significantly less time than full-featured alternatives that can take years to develop.
2) Lower risk: as a direct result of having lower upfront costs, the risk resulting from the product not succeeding in the market will also be greatly reduced.
3) Rapid market entry: by focusing on building the core set of features, the MVP provides a way to launch your product faster, test its viability and receive real user feedback from your customer base on any areas of improvement.
4) Maximize investments: Having a product that has been proven viable by successfully launching your MVP will more than likely increase your chances of securing funding from investors.
5) Enhance your product through ongoing iteration: launching your MVP on the market will provide you with a user base who can provide valuable feedback for your team to research and consider what additions and improvements should be made to the product until it’s finalized.
How can an MVP help your business?
The MVP approach has been used by some of today’s leading tech companies when they were starting out. By starting small and iterating on real user feedback, they were able to make the best decisions for their product’s success, which in turn allowed them to grow.
Having the right team in place is critical for an MVP to be successful, and even more so when inadequate teams are cited as the third reason why most startups fail.
Your team should not only be skilled and experienced, but it’s also important for them to be aligned under a common vision and committed to your business long-term goals.
So what does the process of building an MVP look like in practice? Let’s look at one of our projects at VAIRIX to provide a real-life example.
MVP Case Study: Helping an e-commerce startup come to life on time and budget
MOD is a custom furniture retailer based in Uruguay that partnered with VAIRIX to build an MVP for a responsive e-commerce web platform that allowed their users to customize their furniture orders online.
MOD had initially engaged with a different contractor for this project but was unhappy with their work as they were not able to meet the project’s requirements. Supported by a state-funded accelerator and working on a tight deadline, they decided to change contractors and conducted a search for Ruby on Rails specialists, turning to VAIRIX to help develop and launch their platform’s MVP.
For a two-month period, Vairix had a team of two developers dedicated to building the platform along with its customization features and also addressing problems such as credit card processing issues while taking on any change requests.
Key MVP Features, Integrations and Challenges
Unique furniture personalization calculator: The team at MOD wanted to be able to access the backend in order to submit new products, prices, content, and customizations per client. They needed to allow every user that accessed their platform the ability to modify their furniture based on size, colors, etc. Then, the user had to be able to submit their order and the calculator would come up with a price based on their customizations.
Bin Packing Problem: The challenge for this project was giving the user the ability to calculate the best possible price based on the different measurements provided for each of the products, and also based on the different kinds of materials for each one. To achieve this, we used an algorithm called Bin Packing. The API we developed which solves the Bin Packing problem is called from the MOD site, returning the ideal price for each furniture customization.
Spree Integration: we adapted Spree for the MOD project, customizing it based on the platform’s needs. The challenge of working with this open source project was identifying the best practices and guidelines followed within Spree in order to make the most out of the platform.
By engaging with our expert team of developers, MOD was able to meet their tight deadline and successfully launch the platform. Their satisfaction with the quality of our work has resulted in a long-term partnership, where VAIRIX still provides maintenance services. You can read MOD’s five-star review of our work on Clutch.
Our teams at VAIRIX are seasoned in MVP development using Agile, Scrum and Lean approaches in our day to day work with our partners in the United States. If you’re looking for a reliable team to build your next product, get in touch to meet our team and get your project started.