MVP how minimal
MVPs or Minimum Viable Products are pretty contentious ideas for something seemingly simple. Depending on background and where pepole are coming from experience wise those terms carry radically different ideas. In recent history I’ve seen up close two extreme constrasting examples of MVP:
- Mega Minimal: website and db, mostly manual on the backend
- Mega Mega: provisioning system, dynamic tuning of systems via ML, automated operations, monitoring a few others I’m leaving out.
If we’re evaluating which approach gives us more feedback, Mega Minimal MVP is gonna win hands down here. Some will counter they don’t want to give people a bad impression with a limited product and that’s fair, but it’s better than no impression (the dreaded never shipped MVP). The Mega Mega MVP I referenced took months to demo. only had one of those checkboxes setup and wasn’t ever demod again. So we can categorical say that failed at getting any feedback.
Whereas the Mega Minimal MVP, got enough feedback and users for the founders to realize that wasn’t a business for them. Better than after hiring a huge team and sinking a million plus into dev efforts for sure. Not the happy ending I’m sure you all were expecting, but I view that as mission accomplished.
- Mega Minimal, they only focused on a single feature, executed well enough that people gave them some positive feedback, but not enough to justify automating everything.
- Mega Mega. I’m not sure anyone who talked about the product saw the same core value, and there were several rewrites and shifts along the way.
Advantage Mega Minimal again
What about entrants into a crowded field
Well that is harder and the MVP tends to be less minimal, because the baseline expectations are just much higher. I still lean towards Mega Minimal having a better chance at getting users, since there is a non zero chance the Mega Mega MVP will never get finished. I still think the exercise in focusing on core value that makes your product not a me too, and even considering how you can find a niche in a crowded field instead of just being “better”, and your MVP can be that niche differentiator.
Sometimes a good middle ground is considering getting lots of internal users if you’re really worried about bad experiences. This has it’s it’s definite downsides however, and you may not get diverse enough opinions. But it does give you some feedback while saving some face or bad experiences. I often think of the example of EC2 that was heavily used by Amazon, before being released to the world. That was a luxury Amazon had, where their customer base and their user base happened to be very similar, and they had bigger scale needs than any of their early customers, so the early internal feedback loop was a very strong signal.
In the end however you want to approach MVPs is up to you, and if you find success with a meatier MVP than I have please don’t let me push you away from what works. But if you are having trouble shipping and are getting pushed all the time to add one more feature to that MVP before releasing it, consider stepping back and asking is this really core value for the product? Do you already have your core value? if so, consider just releasing it.