“Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
~ Eric Ries
Talking to budding entrepreneurs about launching a business, most of them have massive dreams of starting a big, successful company that will be the next Facebook or Instagram or Amazon.
Maybe it will be, maybe not.
Money and Time are the two hurdles that cause hindrance in testing your unique business idea. Is it right? Unfortunately, you are wrong if you answered ‘Yes’.
In today’s highly competitive e-commerce world, where Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ theory befits perfectly well, business leaders are following MVP development process to test the worth of their product without constant outflow of money or time. However, for the successful MVP development of the product, it is important to dodge few development pitfalls that can result in an epic business failure.
Choosing the Wrong Problem to Solve
“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” ~ W. Edwards Deming
A survey held by CB Insights revealed that the topmost reason for a startup’s failure with a 42% share is ‘lack of market need.’ In nutshell, if your product doesn’t nail the problem, customers won’t go along with it to find a solution.
Hence, before spending months of effort towards developing a product, the initial step is to determine whether the product is worth doing or not. Once you have analyzed the pain on which your startup will be built, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is this for?
- What problem am I compelled to solve?
- Is my proposed idea an effective solution to the problem?
If you intend to target everyone, you will end up getting no one. Find the doors first, then start to build the key. A great looking key is of no use if it can’t open the right door. After cracking the right target audience, if the answer to the second question is positive and a confident ‘Yes’ for the third, then you’ve got the problem and solution juxtaposed effectively. It’s time to start pressure-testing your idea.
Skipping the Prototype Phase
“Prototyping is the conversation you have with your ideas.” ~ Tom Wujec
Imagine building a car without referring to a visual model. It is quite impossible, right? Jumping straightway to the development process without defining the requirements is just as difficult.
A vital part of product development is the evolution of the idea from a unique concept to a fully-working product or service. Between the idea, and the full-fledged product lies the prototype that focuses on the ‘How’ part of the product. Thinking and acting prototypically brings the projected idea to life, thereby reducing the risk and removing the puzzle of your product.
Steve Jobs was out of his job because of avoiding the stage of prototyping while building the Apple Lisa. The result was a disaster as it failed to achieve a favorable number of sales.
Usually, first ideas always demand iterations – be it a wireframe prototype or a coded experiment. Prototype and iterations go a long way to transform into a product. And how does it happen? By testing – presenting it to potential users for their feedback and opinions, while observing their behavior (Build, Measure, and Learn).
How to Choose the Right prototyping Approach?
Let’s not bid the time, and get straight to the point with this David Aragon quote while answering the question ‘What kind of prototypes do you create at Netflix and what tools do you use to build them?’ He said:
“I prototype mainly in two environments: the browser and the TV rendering engine. My choice depends on the aim of the prototype. If I’m looking for quick iteration, I’ll build in a browser, since it’s hard to beat the reliability and ubiquity of WebKit. But if I need to see how a specific idea will render on actual TV hardware, I’ll build directly in our TV rendering engine, called Gibbon.”
Targeting the Wrong Segment of Persona
“The main reason why products fail is because they don’t meet customers’ needs in a way that is better than other alternatives.”
~ Dan Olsen
Once you are ready with an MVP prototype, it’s time to validate it through testing – getting the comments and feedback from the target audience. At this stage, you have to keep in mind that ‘everyone’ is not your targeted user. So do not ask your friends or relatives for feedback until unless they are your potential customers, else, your product/service will get dumped under the pile of wrong feedback.
Focusing on a segmented target market rather than an unintended segment of customers sets a platform for your MVP startup for a much better chance of success. While getting the feedback from the target audience, try to fetch answers to the queries like – Was the product solving a problem they have? Was it hitting the pain point? etc.
During this stage, encourage participation and brainstorming. Analyze the patterns of similar comments and connect the dots to improve the product.
The feedback from the potential users after the prototyping stage helped Nike to understand that it is hard for users to locate the CTA and hence it required to be more explicit. The feedback from prototyping prevented them to release a product that was difficult for users to engage with.
Inappropriate Development Method
“There’s a way to do it better find it.”
~ Thomas A. Edison
Jumping directly into the process of MVP development without prior knowledge of the correct development method of building is one of the major reasons for startups giving up the project in the middle. And this is one of the major contributing factors of the statistics – Nine out of ten startups fail.
Generally, there are two approaches for MVP product development: Agile and waterfall.
When compared to Waterfall (Traditional Method), Agile product development is far more efficient due to its potential to deliver the project at the certain time frame, offering adaptability to changing circumstances with high-quality results week after week.
Ambysoft’s 2018 IT Project Success Rates Survey concluded that the agile method has a 55% success rate, compared to just 29% for the traditional method.
Moreover, many startups choose ‘templatized software’ to build an MVP quickly and easily. However, making your product a reality is not just dependent upon building an MVP rapidly. Instead, it’s a perfect amalgamation of speed and efficiency that is not possible with visual programming.
- Visual languages are leaky abstractions, which gives speed to market but do not offer speed to solution. Hence, it generates a slow code that is impossible to optimize.
- Such templatized software generate lower level codes that have the potential to lock your product into a dead-end. Hence, such software are only supported by suicidal startups, who at the later stages end up spending more in redeveloping their product.
In a nutshell, code generation software pretend to abstract out something, like all abstractions, but unfortunately they ‘leak.’
Confusion Between Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback
“[Triangulation is an] attempt to map out, or explain more fully, the richness and complexity of human behavior by studying it from more than one standpoint.”
~ Cohen and Manion
Qualitative and Quantitative feedback are two ways to collect data from the target users. However, relying on one of them and neglecting the other can cause a hindrance to reach an accurate conclusion. Both types of feedback have a different role to play and hence it is vital to hit the right balance of them to come to the conclusion that can help you to make intelligent changes.
- Qualitative feedback consists of findings that are associated with the user-friendliness of the features of the product/service. It directly assesses the usability of the system by helping developers to analyze the specific problematic UI elements.
- Quantitative feedback is in form of metrics that pinpoints whether the tasks were easy or difficult to perform. It indirectly assesses the usability of the design. Such feedback can be dependent upon the performance of user on a given task –success rates, number of errors, etc.
The ideal approach is the amalgamation of qualitative feedback with quantitative feedback – Triangulation Feedback to gather data for an overall accurate interpretation that looks at a variety of different factors. This approach boosts the chances to control the threats that can result in product failure. If both the feedback methods come to the common conclusion, then the developer will be more confident with the success of the product.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison
Even Edison learned the importance of quick iterations to reach the solution that customers require. In building a commercially viable bulb, Thomas Edison went through 10,000 prototypes before getting it right.
Successful MVP development grows the chances for your product to see the light of day in the market. However, the bitter truth is that not all MVPs are successful. In order to make your business successful, avoid the mistakes that can result in your product failure.