Ash Maurya describes how he designed the Minimum Viable Product for Cloud Fire, a Photo Sharing service.
- For Tim Ferriss, his MVP for testing new products that don’t yet exist (micro-testing) comprises of a landing page, signup page, and Google AdWords to drive traffic.
- For me the minimum viable product goes back even further to Steve Blank’s concept of the “Customer Problem Presentation” (problem interview) outlined in his book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”. The Customer Problem Presentation is a scripted interview with your target customers done either face to face or over the phone. (Customer Development) We talked to enough people until their answers started sounding the same. At that point we had a pretty good idea of what our product’s unique value proposition should be, a list of other benefits, and a price to put on our signup page.
- From here we had 2 options: We could either build landing and signup pages (Selling Pages) and start testing without a product. Or, we could start building a minimal product. There has been much debate on the pros and cons of each approach. While leading users to a signup page that has no product behind it can help test the messaging, it can also hurt your trust and credibility. If you charge for your product, this is even shadier and on the verge of being illegal. (So he built the MVP.)
- As soon as that was ready, we hit the same potential customers again for a product presentation. This time around, we presented the revised top 3 problems we were addressing and then proceeded to show them how we solved them with our solution (solution interview). We made sure to ask them how they would describe what was different about our service which gave us valuable keyword and positioning statements. The call to action at the end of the presentation was for them to signup for the service.
- Nov'2011: how they iterated on their Unique Value Proposition at this point based on solution interviews: Through the interviews we were able to conclusively declare Iteration 3 as the winner within a week after just 10 interviews. We not only knew which version worked but importantly we knew why. All the insights above came directly from the parents we interviewed.
- Face to face Selling is definitely not scalable for a product like this but engaging customers right from the beginning helped us to strengthen our relationship along the way which made them even more wiling willing to help later. I then finally turned my attention to landing and signup pages.