Eric Reis and Steve Blank’s concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) has become the philosophy thousands of entrepreneurs across the world subscribe to when developing products and ideas. The problem many of these entrepreneurs run into is they don’t effectively test the viability of their MVPs.
The importance of stringent testing.
Nine out of ten startups fail. That’s a 90 percent failure rate. Pretty sobering, eh? Well, that number is a bit misleading. Roughly 42 percent of startup founders claim their ventures failed as a result of “no market need” for their product or service. Nearly half of all failures are the direct result of learning their irrelevancy the hard way.
Reis and Blank are always quick to point out that failed startups “begin with an idea for a product that they think people want.” They then spend months perfecting the product without ever turning the “idea” into a tangible product that can be shown to customers, tested and refined. Only when the startup fails do they realize the product was doomed from the start.
This can all be fixed with stringent testing and basic prototyping. The MVP is a basic version of the end product that can be tested. You can gauge whether the product is likely to succeed based on response from your target market.
A sloppy MVP may misrepresent your end product and skew the testing results. So, first and foremost, focus on creating an MVP that’s both “minimum” and “viable.”
3 ways to test your MVP.
Once you have a quality MVP you are confident to stand behind, it’s time to start testing. Here are some methods you’ll want to try:
Interviews and focus groups. The more people you talk with, the more accurate your results will be. Start with interviews and focus groups. There’s a lot of value in using the Internet for quick feedback, but nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Every penny you spend on interviews and focus groups will be well worth it in the long run.
Social monitoring. Social media is an excellent tool for gauging market receptiveness to your MVP. Run a social campaign and send out free prototypes, then follow up with users and listen to what they’re saying. You will get an accurate idea how the product will be received.
A/B split testing. If you’re finding resistance among your test groups, it’s important that you get to the bottom of the issue. While it’s possible users don’t like the entire product, it’s more likely they find a particular aspect or element undesirable. Use split testing to isolate these problems.
Testing is key to a successful MVP. In the end, accurate prototyping and thorough testing will help you determine whether your startup is headed for success, or in need of a pivot. Just leverage the tips mentioned in this article and you’ll be better off than 42 percent of startups.