If you’re a founder or entrepreneur and you’re spending a lot longer than 4–6 weeks building a mobile or web-based minimum viable product (MVP) in 2016, then don’t call it an MVP, because it probably isn’t, it’s more than likely a Version 1.
By definition, a proof of concept or MVP is the most pared down version of a new product that can still be released. Once released, an early adopter must derive enough value to use and/or buy it, continue to use it and most importantly provide ongoing feedback to guide future development.
I’ve been building apps for corporations and start-ups for over a decade. Along the way, I learned first-hand that understanding MVPs is still one of the most important yet most misunderstood principles of the lean start-up methodology. This is evidenced by the overwhelming number of start-up founders and entrepreneurs alike that come to Keystoke for an initial consultation after meeting with numerous larger agencies that give them estimates of 5+ months and $200k+ to build their mobile MVP. Following a thorough discovery phase, our product team typically provides that same customer with an estimate of fewer than 6 weeks.
While no two projects are ever exactly the same, the inevitable need to lovingly yet forcefully work with our new customer and their stakeholders to pair down the initial scope of work and trim the nonessentials from their previously defined MVP is critical, yet it’s still a very difficult part of the scoping process. If successful, the end result is a product that they can put in the palm of investors or early adopters and learn from, make adjustments to and enhance to ensure that they have found a solid product/market fit without wasting 5 months and spending over a hundred thousand dollars to learn the same thing. I welcome any feedback!