When working lean and using agile principals to guide our approach to software development, your MVP is the goal. It’s what you’re aiming for when you engage with us. That being said, depending on your familiarity with agile development, you might not necessarily understand the importance of your MVP.

What Exactly Is MVP?

To get the answer we’ll turn to two trusted sources. “Trusted” because they both end in “-pedia”, so there has to be some level of accuracy, right?

From Wikipedia:
In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk. It is the sweet spot between products without the required features that fail at sunrise and the products with too many features that cut return and increase risk.

From Techopedia:
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

So that may answer the WHAT, but what’s even more important is the WHY.

Why Bigger Isn’t Better

There’s a misconception about software development by uninitiated Product Owners. The mindset is often: “If my product doesn’t have every single thing I wanted included in it, it’s destined to fail.” This leads to bloated products with features that ultimately serve very little service, if any at all.

Paring down your product to the barest essentials, or at its leanest, you can release the product earlier and gather vital feedback that will then dictate what additional features need to be added in future iterations.

This doesn’t mean your product has to be devoid of style, function, or originality. It just means that you need to determine what it truly important. It still has to have enough obvious value that people are willing to use or buy it. It still has to have the promise of becoming a bigger, badder product when those later iterations do come.

Does It Work?

In short – absolutely. And not just in theory, many of the largest digital companies in the world started incredibly lean. A great example is Zappos. You know, that monster, billion-dollar online shoe store. When it was first launched, it didn’t have the endless stockpile of shoes it carries today. In its initial run the founder went to local shoe stores and asked the owner’s for permission to list their products online. He handled the first orders by hand, shipped the shoes himself, received payments, everything. That’s as lean as it gets. Once the demand for his service was realized, he was able to expand and expand and expand.

Also, keep in mind that having a slew of features isn’t always the best way to go anyway. Many companies have flourished by having one single feature that just happened to be exactly what users were needing (whether they knew it or not). And if a single feature was good enough for Google and Dropbox at their initial launch, we hope it’s good enough for you, too.

So take your idea and boil it down to the very best, most important parts. That’s your MVP and that’s what we want to help you build.

Author

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.