Eric Ries on MVP – 2009

Below is a MVP presentation for the inaugural Lean Startup Meetup in San Francisco by Eric Ries. It is a must watch if you are interested in building successful products.

Eric starts with a question:

Why do we build products?

The lean startup is about creating companies with big visions.

There are two possible approaches

  1. Maximize chances of success. Build a product with as many features as you can. The more features you have, the more likely you are to be successful: “Let´s build the product right.” The problem is all or nothing outcome
  1. Release early, release often. Let´s ship as quick as possible. Let´s get as much feedback as early as we can. On lean startup we talk about continuous deployment, rapid releases.

MVP, the minimum set of features necessary to get the early costumer for our product, to get validation that things makes sense.

We want to get feedback, but only the right amount of feedback to get us useful information.

This is the basics of MVP: You got to believe that on the early days of a product only the visionary customers will try your product. Minimum refers to: what are the minimum features to engage with these customers. The early customers are visionary just as you are.

A lot of customers don’t know what they want, the MVP puts something in front of them. And you can validate your vision.

You got to keep doing MVP over and over again. And that persistence is all about being entrepreneur.

It requires a commitment to iteration.

MVP is one of the few practices out there to iterate on the feedback loop (build-measure-learn). Most practices out there only work on one of the areas of this loop. MVP works on these three areas: build measure and learn.

What is the absolute minimum I have to do to complete one cycle on this loop?

If you have no product on the market today and you have to answer what is the MVP to put in the market today, you must align everyone on a minimum plan. The ToThePoint book talks about lean inception and a recipe for understanding the MVP.

How can you find out your product idea is really bad? Perhaps this should be your first MVP.

Think about it, you spend time and energy creating products no one uses. You must first verify your idea is not really bad.

What is the current hypothesis? On large organizations, there are people that everyday try to figure out what we are doing wrong. What different hypothesis could be more effective? They are thinking about MVPs.

Why do we build products?

Not so that we feel good on our ability to build products, but we make decisions based on real feedback.

IPhone first generation did not have copy/paste; that is a MVP! By shipping the product without it, Apple was able to be successful. There were zillions of features like that.

Here are 3 reasons people build maximum products instead of MVP:

  1. The fear of the false negative: You don’t really want feedback. What if I ask and I get a mixed bag?
  2. The visionary complex: customers don’t know what they want, so why ask them? Remember the goal of MVP is not ask what customers want, but to test what they actually want.
  3. Too busy building my real product. Some people say: If I build MVPs I will waste my time… I rather stay on my tunnel vision and build my product. And it is too late when they learn it was the wrong product.

“Entrepreneurship in a lean startup is really a series of MVP’s”

Eric Ries