Understanding The Reason for a MVP
There are so many young startups that get caught in the rut between raising a friends and family or angel investment round and developing a product worthy of venture capital investment. We at Sidebench have worked with startups at nearly every stage of the funding process, and we have seen a few very consistent deciding factors that determine whether a startup becomes a company, or if it fizzles and dies. The following will outline some advisory best practices when creating your MVP, and why you should implement them in order to boost your chances of gathering funding.
While the need for a fantastic team is well documented, a well thought out product is essential. Before acquiring VC funding, a founding team may be somewhat lost as to what their next move is. The answer is simply: create an MVP (Minimal Viable Product).
Making an MVP is easy in some ways and hard in some ways, but overall it is a significant challenge to make the MVP effective and functional.
Just as it is known that surviving the campaign trail is a pseudo-test for becoming president, creating an effective MVP is the main tell as to whether a founding team is worthy of VC funding… or even getting to sit down with a partner at a venture capital firm.
Sidebench specializes in creating workflows, use cases, and doing A/B and user testing. Contact us through our website for more information.
Many misinterpret the reason why an MVP is important. Firstly, it is not to get VC funding. If a founder thinks of an MVP like that they are destined to never find themselves in front of any capable venture capitalist. Rather, it is extremely important to understand that an MVP is made to test the market, test the design, and test the assumptions of the founders. Making an MVP a successful investment means coming away with helpful information. This information is what gets you in front of investors, not the MVP itself.
Best Practices for the Creation of Your MVP
The first step to your MVP is to make a workflow. This is essentially a map for your application or website. It shows which links lead to which pages and what happens when a user clicks a certain link. This needs to be perfectly done, as a mistaken loop in the creation of the MVP can lead to tests that come back with unreliable results or, even worse, dead ends and an unusable product.
The workflow will optimally be strategically designed in order to have multiple paths that lead to the same outcome, without overwhelming the user with options, so that the founding team can tell which path is the most used. This leads to a nicer user experience when you get the chance to design the final product. The MVP isn’t only about testing functionality or product/market fit, but also the design and layout (UI/UX) of your interface. A cleaner interface means more users will be willing to use your application.
2. Use Cases and User Stories
Next is the creation of use cases and user stories. Who is going to be using your product, when, and why? Create a list of all the scenarios you can imagine, and then brainstorm to find some you couldn’t initially think of. What do users want to do with your product? Where are their pain points? How do you solve them?
These will help you understand the thought process of a potential user, and by understanding this, you can adjust your MVP to ensure you have only the most essential features. More features means a higher cost. Being able to keep your costs down while providing a functional, testable MVP not only gives you a better product for less money, but it shows future investors that you are capable of spending their money efficiently.
3. A/B Testing and User testing
Don’t just create one design of your MVP. Make two, or three, or four. Put buttons in different places, change up the workflows a bit, experiment with colors. All of these things are relatively cheap ways of testing how your product is best understood and most enjoyed by users.
After you give out the MVP to your test group, the user feedback is the final step before you iterate and start again. Ask users what they like and don’t like. Better yet, if possible, track user’s flow through the product (where did they click? In what order?) without them knowing. This allows you to get the least biased results.
Finally, after your MVP has given you enough data, start looking for VCs. We will have another post on best practices for this step (hint – simply emailing them won’t work).