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The Elusive "MVP" - Stop Building and Start Talking

The Elusive "MVP" - Stop Building and Start Talking
By Niall Maher • Issue #3 • View online
“You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52
It’s a core belief that a minimum viable product (MVP)  is to collect feedback.
An MVP is not to create money. An MVP is to test a theory.
Dreaming up new business ideas, features, and products is exciting.
It’s easy to imagine the wealth and success of our brilliant ideas.
But the truth is, most of our ideas won’t work.
There’s a lot of unknowns, and it’s difficult to know if you are going down the right path.
The philosophy behind an MVP is that we don’t want to invest too much time and money into something that may not work. You want to learn from actual customer behaviour and feedback.
It can save you from wasting time on a product nobody wants or needs.
An MVP is the smallest functionality that you can build to test your product idea and validate your customer assumptions. It allows you to quickly get feedback from actual customers in a real environment.
Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group defines an MVP as “the smallest possible product that has three critical characteristics: people choose to use it or buy it; people can figure out how to use it, and we can deliver it when we need it with the resources available – also known as valuable, usable and feasible”. - Source
Where do most people go wrong when they build their MVP?
Hiring a developer,
grabbing a no-code solution,
or delivering a “full” solution of some sort.
And ultimately spending months to ask if someone wants this thing finally.
There is a much easier way.
First, we have to talk to people.
There is an art to doing this right. But talking to relevant people about the problem you are trying to solve is better than nothing.
We are trying to understand if there is value in our idea.
The great part is you need nothing.
Just some questions and effort to listen.
We want to know what problems they are trying to solve.
If this is new to you, I recommend grabbing the excellent free e-book - Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done.
Once you have listened and confidence, you can use a free tool like Figma to create some wireframes and flesh out the idea.
Make sure that what you are designing here is feasible. Be mindful of what you can deliver with your current resources.
When we have our screens, you can stitch together a prototype.
This allows you to start testing the usability of your MVP on potential customers and collecting actual feedback.
After you start iterating and talking to more people, you could even start getting the best validation of all, pre-orders.
The nice part about doing this without any code or big tools is that it’s fast, cheap, and quick to update.
Speed is what is crucial. It lets us focus on the problem we are trying to solve and not fall in love with a solution.
This process can be challenging the first couple of times.
But do you know what is more difficult?
Spending months on an idea or solution and accepting it’s going nowhere.

Blog picks
100 Tips for a Better Life
Mental Model: Supply and Demand
My Struggle With Social Media: A Diatribe on Ego and Honesty
Recommended reading
These The Mom Test and Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done were critical to the success of my product management work. They are becoming much more important as a founder.
Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done
Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It
That’s all for this week, stay safe, and I’ll chat to you next week, my beautiful friends! 👋
If you have any questions you would like answered in an upcoming issue; please send them to
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Niall Maher

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