Popularized by the lean startup movement, minimum viable product helps a team gather the greatest amount of insight about consumers while using the least amount of resources (1). Startups with a low tolerance for risk that want to introduce a product to customers use this strategy, which is an iterative process that relies on testing ideas and prototypes, collecting and analyzing data, and refining the product until the desired result is achieved.

Minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product that has several key attributes (2):

  • It costs less for the business to produce while showing enough value to get people to try it.
  • It holds enough appeal to gain the loyalty of a consumer group known as early adopters.
  • It channels consumer feedback to the business, which it can then use to refine and improve future product development.

The lean startup movement

Minimum viable product is an idea set forth by the lean startup movement, which provides a scientific method for helping startups get a product to market faster and smarter (3). The lean startup movement embraces the concept of growing a business through iterative product releases, experimentation and validated learning. The assumption is that startups will not only spend less money, they will also eliminate uncertainty by testing their vision continuously.

Lean startup entrepreneurs believe that many businesses fail because they invest a great deal of time and capital into perfecting a product without showing even a basic prototype to the customer first. By omitting this step, businesses miss critical feedback that could help them predict how the larger target market will react to the product and whether improvements should be made that will create a better outcome. The lean startup method takes a different approach. Instead of asking "How can the product be created?" it asks "Should the product be created?"

This model introduces products to consumer groups in limited doses with the goal of enlisting early adopters who offer useful data in addition to revenue. This data is then used to optimize the continuing development of the product until market satisfaction is achieved.

MVP is an effective tool for ecommerce owners who want to leave room for experimentation and test the waters before getting a new product up and running.

1. "Minimum Viable Product"
2. "Minimum Viable Product (MVP)"
3. "The Lean Startup Methodology"

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