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MVPs 101: Getting from Idea to Product
Entrepreneurship / 5 June 2024
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FS Master in Management, Class of 2025
Francesca is a venture builder with 7 years of work experience in corporate and startups at Vali Berlin. She ideated, managed, and grew startups in B2B, B2C, e-commerce, healthtech, real estate, and edutech. She specialises in early-stage startup strategy, MVP creation and validation, and marketing. 

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A startup can take up to a couple of years to launch… sometimes even longer! These delays are usually caused by long and tedious development periods, difficulty with understanding the market’s wants and needs (especially when potential customers give conflicting feedback), and founders’ anxiousness about releasing an imperfect product. 

To speed up this process, startups create minimum viable products (or MVPs) that test and validate their proof of concept (POC) in a quick and cost-effective way. 

What are MVPs?

Coined by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup (2011), an MVP is the most basic version of your solution (like a website landing page, an app mockup, or even a WhatsApp group chat) that lets you test some assumptions you have about your market. 

It is difficult to release a fully-functional final product into the market right away because, at this early stage, most of what founders know about the market are merely assumptions. They could spend months, or even years, developing a complicated platform with many features only to launch it and discover that their market does not need to use 90% of the features. This is both costly and time-consuming, so it is better to launch a simple MVP first and make the necessary adjustments from there. 

MVPs, because of their simple nature, require manual processes at the start. This early on, founders ought to do things that don’t scale, like messaging customers themselves to simulate a chatbot or manually connecting doctors and patients via e-mail like a platform service. After validating which products and services have customer demand however, these processes can be adjusted for scalability and efficiency.

Creating MVPs

To create an MVP, one must first summarize their initial business idea, then come up with some assumptions to validate about their market. This could be related to customer wants and needs (like “Pet owners want to do consultations for their pets online”) or a feasibility aspect (like “Pet health consultations can be done correctly online”). From there, each assumption would have a corresponding feature that is simple, measurable, and representative of the initial business idea. 

MVPs do not need to be very technical products. No-code website builders like Wix are perfect for simple landing pages, and simple app mockups can be made through drag-and-drop tools like Figma and Canva. MVPs can even be as simple as a WhatsApp group or Zoom call – the possibilities are endless! 

Here are some examples of MVPs created by participants of an MVP workshop held by the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management Entrepreneurship Centre: 

  • A website with a “sign up now” button for an eyeglass subscription business 
  • Selling idli (an Indian rice cake) on Sundays to students in a school dormitory for an idli business 
  • A simple group chat with a voting system for a plant care forum platform. 

Testing MVPs

MVPs must be tested to know which features to keep and throw away, and the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) framework is an effective and efficient way to do this: 

  • Build: Create your MVP. 
  • Measure: Set quantifiable success metrics (like a target number of sign-ups, letters of intent, orders, etc.) and collect consumer insights. 
  • Learn: Use consumer insights as a basis for improving your product (ex: if only 1 person signs up for your service after 1 month, find out why people don’t sign up and adjust the service accordingly). 

 Note that BML is a never-ending process of iteration, and after the Learn stage, it is time to go back to the Build and update your product as needed.  

Conclusion

By creating an MVP, startups can significantly reduce time and resources spent on product development while gaining valuable market insights. This iterative process of building, measuring, and learning helps founders refine their offerings based on real customer feedback, ultimately increasing the chances of launching a successful product.  

If you have a business idea and you need help with building your MVP, book an Idea Talk with the FSEC team today! 

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