When startups launch their first product, that initial product being launched is called a Minimum viable product (MVP). Launching an MVP is a critical stage for building a startup, as it is an essential tool in testing the viability of your product in the real market world.
Most founders and intending founders are laden with a myriad of questions on launching their MVP. However, one of their biggest questions pre-launch is – “How would I know that my MVP is ready to be launched?” In this post, we’ll take you on a journey regarding launching that MVP.
Difference Between Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and a Prototype
Science teaches that a cell is the functional unit of life. Similarly, an MVP is the functional unit of your final product. Like with a cell, your MVP may not be sophisticated – but should be able to carry out basic functional actions.
When Google first launched its search engine, it was basically an HTML page that tested how users interacted with the engine. Essentially, the role of any MVP is:
- To carry out pre-defined functions
- To gauge how users would interact with the final product.
It is pertinent to differentiate between an MVP and a prototype. While an MVP is a functional unit (that is usually iterated upon), a prototype is merely a first draft of the product (that is often discarded afterward).
Prototypes can be as small as paper sketches to more sophisticated digital models. However, prototypes can only communicate the ideas to be built, while MVPs are the built products.
MVP Launch Stages
There are different stages in building and launching an MVP. Our outline in this blog section will help you navigate the process and increase your chances of achieving a triumphant launch:
1. Ideation and Conceptualization
This first stage of an MVP launch involves brainstorming and shaping your initial idea. It involves Identifying the problem you intend to solve, defining your target audience, and also identifying a product-market fit.
Here, founders can conduct market research and analyze competitors to understand existing solutions and potential gaps. Refine your concept, outline the core features, and set the goals and objectives for your MVP.
2. Feature Prioritization
While it can be tempting to include numerous features in your MVP, it is crucial to prioritize and focus on the core functionality. Determine the features that are essential for solving the identified problem and providing value to your target audience.
By prioritizing key features, you can develop a functional MVP more efficiently, saving time and resources.
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3. Design and Development
Once you have a clear understanding of the core features, it’s time to move into the design and development phase. With a team of product designers, managers, and UX leads, create wireframes or mockups to visualize the user interface and user experience.
Design a clean and intuitive interface that aligns with your brand identity. Concurrently, engage your development team to transform your design into a functional MVP. Adopt an agile development approach, allowing for iterative improvements and quick feedback loops.
4. Testing and Iteration
As development progresses, conduct rigorous testing to ensure the functionality, usability, and performance of your MVP. Involve a diverse group of beta testers or early adopters who can provide valuable feedback.
Collect user insights, identify pain points, and track metrics that align with your predefined goals. Use this feedback to iterate on your MVP, making necessary refinements and improvements before the official launch.
5. Pre-Launch Marketing
Before the MVP launch, create buzz and generate excitement by implementing pre-launch marketing strategies. Leverage social media platforms, email marketing, content creation, and public relations to reach your target audience.
Build a landing page or a teaser website to capture leads and showcase the value proposition of your product. Collect email addresses or registrations to create a user base that you can notify when the MVP is ready for launch.
6. Launch and Feedback Collection
Finally, it’s time to unveil your MVP to the world. Announce the launch through various marketing channels and reach out to your pre-registered users. Monitor the initial user engagement closely, addressing any issues or bugs promptly.
Encourage users to provide feedback, either through in-app feedback mechanisms or dedicated communication channels. Actively listen to your users, understand their needs, and use their input to drive further iterations and improvements.
7. Continuous Improvement
An MVP launch is not the end of the journey; rather, it marks the beginning. One recurring challenge is that many founders stop collecting feedback and improving their service offerings after launching their MVP.
At this stage, key performance indicators need to be monitored, user satisfaction indexes need to be measured, and the MVP should be iterated accordingly. Regular updates and new features to enhance the user experience and stay ahead of the competition is also critical.
Questions Founders Should Ask before MVP Launch
For many founders and co-founders, they already have their MVP, but are still stalling from launch. In this section, we’ll run you through a checklist you need to answer that might give you some reassurance or guidance for launch.
Does your product solve the problem it set out to achieve?
Every product is built to solve a specific problem. If your MVP was built to solve financial transactions, for example – can it process those transactions effortlessly? Did you prioritize the most important features of your product? If your answer is no, you’re not ready to launch. If you answer yes, you can go to the next question.
Does your product fit your target market?
Many founders today solve the problems they think users have – not the issues users actually have. Some others erroneously solve the problem of the wrong market.
Studies show that 42% of startups fail because they do not have a target market. Before launching your MVP, the next important question to be asked is if your innovation has a product-market fit and if you have a target market for it. Once this is settled, step down to the next question.
Is your product scalable?
Scalability in this context means building systems and products that can accommodate a larger number of users when the growth kicks in. We have found that a lot of products are not built to scale.
Hence, after the MVP launches and more people get onboarded, these products may not be able to accommodate their users, affecting their user experience and hampering growth. Affirm that your product is built to scale before launch.
Do you have a success criteria?
Before launch, founders and intending founders need to set success criteria for their product. These include the number of downloads, number of active paying users, minimum growth per quarter/annum, and other metrics
For most people, there is the urge to keep delaying your minimum viable product launch till it is sophisticated and relatively better than competitors.
But for intending founders and early stage founders, our stance is simple – Go through these checklists, and launch! It’s only when people test these products that you can ask for feedback, observe loopholes, A/B test, and improve your service offerings.
Following this guide for an MVP launch allows you validate your idea, gather feedback, and iteratively improve your product. By following a well-structured approach, from ideation to continuous improvement, you increase your chances of creating a robust and user-centric solution.
Remember, an MVP is just the first step towards a greater vision, and embracing the journey of learning and growth will lead you to build an exceptional product that resonates with your target audience.
Don’t wait till it’s sophisticated. It’s the “Minimum viable product” that is needed. So launch!