You can’t build an MVP

MVP is an acronym for Minimum Viable Product.

Ever since the Lean Startup book and movement appeared, it has become the staple of “successfully building the right product”.

It’s pretty clear, right?

  • Minimum – it contains just the needed features that enable us to make money.
  • Viable – people are willing to give us money for it.
  • Product – It’s sort-of-a-tangible thing that gets delivered to people.



And that’s why everyone no longer builds a full-featured product, just an MVP. Anything else is waste.

Well, if that’s what you are building, sit down. I have some bad news.

First of all, a real MVP is not supposed to get us money. It is an experiment to validate our assumptions. A learning tool.

The PRODUCT part is really misleading. We may create an experiment completely different than the product we envisioned to validate our assumptions. Instead of building the whole thing first, for example, to validate there’s interest in our idea, we can put a sign-up page on our site. Our experiment fails if not many people register. Then we learn and move on to the next experiment.

The other option is completely different.

If we are under the impression that we are building a lean (just needed features) product (that will get us money), we are already assuming that we know the minimum part of it.

And since we know everything, we have already concluded that it is viable, otherwise why build it?

We’re ready for customers to fill our wallets.

What’s that you’re saying?

“But… we don’t know”.

If we’re treating MVPs like this, we are not conducting experiments for learning. What we’re doing is gambling we’re building the right thing. Usually, that’s big gamble compared to a small experiment we can do instead.

We can’t build something we know works, because we don’t know if it works. The only way to know if we’ve built an MVP is in hindsight. Only after we check the results, we can say if it was viable, and if it was minimal. “Building an MVP”  is a contradiction in terms.

We need to stop “building MVPs”. Instead we should start conducting experiments.

Change the language. Change the mind set. Minimize the risks and increase learning.

You’ll feel better.

Reference: You can’t build an MVP from our NCG partner Gil Zilberfeld at the Geek Out of Water blog.

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