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3 Questions to Ask While Scoping Out Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

You have a great idea and you feel it’s time to build it out. Even though your idea is very promising, you want to be very careful not to kill it with poor execution or running out of budget. You’re asking your friends for recommendations for an expert or you already have someone in mind. You’ve decided that going the MVP route is theright approach.
At this point, you have a few questions to answer before diving in tobuild your MVP:
  1. Who is the consumer of your MVP? 
  2. How do you pick the right set of features for your MVP? 
  3. Given that your MVP will have only a few features, how do you 
    ensure that your customers stay invested and interested in 
    your offering?

Let’s deal with them one by one. 

Who is the consumer of your MVP? 

MVP by its very definition will lack the polish and the completeness of a mainstream product. Eric Ries points out in his book Lean Startup that an MVP is a learning vehicle to gather insights from your customers with least effort. Plus, your initial user is also willing to pay for access to your MVP.

Who in the world is willing to pay for a half-baked product, you ask.

Meet your “earlyevangelist”!

Steve Blank coined the term ‘earlyevangelist’ to describe the class of people who will help you to build an MVP. They have these five characteristics: they have a problem, they are aware of the problem, they have been actively looking for a solution to this problem, they have a workaround or a hack to deal with the problem currently, and they have already set a budget to solve this problem or can acquire it quickly.

If you are able to identify your earlyevangelists, your job is half done in this stage. Mind you, the size of this user need not be very high.

It’s your earlyevangelists that you should be building your MVP for and ignore everybody else at this stage. Because they already have a budget to solve the problem you’re attempting to, they’re ready to pay. This will give at least a little bit of extra runway as you expand and perfect your product.

Now that you’ve identified your early customer…

How do you pick the right set of features for your MVP?

Three things to keep in mind while answering this question.

1. We said earlier that the goal with your MVP is to learn. So, that translates as pick features, processes, or efforts that help you achieve that goal and ignore those that don’t help with the learning you seek.

2. You’ll pick only a handful of features at this stage. Some use the 80/20 rule that says pick the 20% features that have 80% impact on the outcomes. Twenty is just a representative number; depending on your situation, it could as well be 5, 30 or something else. Remember that you’ll get the chance to build your favourite features, it may not be in the MVP stage.

3. Talk to your earlyevangelist. This is the most crucial step in picking the features for your MVP. Since the earlyevangelist has dealt with your problem for quite a while and has even built a workaround to tackle it, it’s a smart move to tap into their knowledge and expertise. Mind you, pick the smallest or least complicated problem that the customer will pay you to solve.

By following these guidelines you automatically ensure that your MVP is on the right path and no IT efforts are wasted.

How do you ensure that your customers stay invested and interested in your offering?

The most common reasons for startup failure include: (1) Not the right technical team (2) Mis timed Product – insufficient planning, (3) lack of customer validation, (4) failure to execute, and (5) lack of cash flow.  Of these, the third reason is the one we think founders and executives miss most often. That’s because founders and executives tend to believe that if they build it, people will come.

But it doesn’t work that way. Customers don’t come to you. We go to them with intermediate prototypes that they can give feedback on. By involving even a handful of customers in product development right from the beginning, we can produce a product that’s perfect for an entire market.


By identifying your earlyevangelists and collaborating with them throughout the development of your MVP, you can amplify the chances of hitting the perfect minimum feature set not only solves a problem for these customers but also creates a natural monopoly for your startup.

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