Cheat Sheet: Minimum Viable Product

Minimum Viable Product - Marshmellow toasterConcept:        Minimum Viable Product

Skill Goal:     Be able to test a product hypothesis with minimal resources

The 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

  • An MVP is not necessarily a functioning product which solves a customer problem. The purpose is only to accelerate learning.
  • There must be some form of measurement in order for there to be any learning. This may be notes taken, web-site visitor statistics, or any other method relevant to the product.
  • Surveys and focus groups are sometimes criticized as bad MVPs as they are prone to misinterpretation, group think, and leading questions. If the results from an MVP test can indicate that the product should not be built, then it is a real test and MVP.
  • Results are often open to interpretation.


Example: Smoke Test

A smoke test is most often a one page website which describes the product and request the visitor to signup to a mailing list. Quick iterations by changing the product or feature description and measuring the signup conversion rate can provide vast accelerating learning about what customers are interested in. usually lists several new websites employing this method daily.

Example: Concierge Test

A concierge test is often used for services. The entrepreneur attempts to charge a customer for manually performing the service without any product development.

e.g. A website radio service which plays songs according to the customer’s individual taste could test pricing by physically sitting with the customer and constructing a playlist on the fly based on the customer’s existing music selection as well as their visible emotional reactions to the music.

If the customer is unwilling to pay a minimal amount for their own personal DJ, the likelihood of paying for a less personal web service to perform the same task is very low.


Additional readings:

Individual Exercises:

  1. Define the Minimum Viable Product for your own product hypothesis.
  • What criteria will you use to validate the hypothesis?
  • What would you consider successful validation based on those criteria?
  • Can the MVP fail to meet the criteria?
  • What
  • Can you remove any features?
  1. Define the Minimum Viable Product for:
  • Yelp
  • Ford (before cars existed)
  • Google
  • A Thai restaurant in Mexico City

Group Exercises:

  1. Explain one member’s product hypothesis but not he MVP to the group. Each member of the group should define an MVP for that product.
  • Which MVP requires the least amount of effort to implement?
  • Which MVP provides the most learning?
  1. As a group, construct an MVP for a product / service of your choice. Some ideas:
  • An energy efficient air-conditioner which reduces costs by 50%
  • A web service to filter out advertising from Twitter.
  • A new psychology technique to help people with schitzophrenia.


Thought / Discussion Exercises:

  1. Under what circumstances will you learn more about customer needs by implementing more features?
  2. Should you charge customers to use a Minimum Viable Product?
  3. What products / services will not be testable with a smoke test?
  4. What products / services will not be testable with a concierge test?
  5. What would you consider as a good Minimum Viable Product example?