MVP - we are not talking about LeBron James and his status in the NBA, but a Minimum Viable Product. MVP is a strategy where a company deploys a new product vision into the market and solicits feedback for early adopters and future customers with the least effort.
The godfather of MVP is Eric Ries, an entrepreneur and author of Startup Lessons Learned. In Eric’s own words its definition is “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.”
What are the steps in making MVP a reality? I sat down with serial entrepreneur, Nathan Gudritz, Co-Founder and CTO of The Deal League to get his take.
When founding The Deal League, what did you do to get started with MVP? When creating The Deal League, my co-Founder, Sean Gannon, and I sat down to discuss ways to tackle the age-old problem of deal sourcing for venture capital and private equity firms and investors. Getting deal flow data wasn’t our issue. So we were able to focus on how we were going to best deliver our product to the market. We investigated the market and talked to potential customers, which helped to streamline our thought process.
What was your initial vision? We needed to figure out what we were going to do with the data we collected and how we were going to use technology to push the product into the market. The database concept was an easy way to start, but we needed to further reflect on its presentation. We considered many key points:
- What type of deal flow information was going to be made available?
- Who were our main customers and how would we engage them on the site?
- How were investors/customers going to receive contact information to deal flow opportunities?
- How did we receive new deals and update the database?
- What information would be free vs. paid subscription?
- What type of analytics would we gather and make available?
How did you push this strategy to get customer feedback? When we first launched the product, we wanted it to be as streamlined as possible. We needed to make sure the data was presented in the right format, people understood how the site worked, and that it reflected the right branding strategy for the audience.
The Deal League launched quietly in June with a select group of users who understood the space. From our initial feedback, we regrouped with a new logo and web design (color, font and images). We continue to field customer service calls about how the site works and where we get our data. We understand that this needs to be highlighted differently on the site. As a result, we continue to tweak our product and its presentation.
How did deploying the MVP strategy work for you? Many entrepreneurs get stuck in the planning stages - thinking it has to be perfect before you launch. It doesn’t. Plus, as you continue to grow and add different features, you can get feedback from your most important critics, your customers. They will engage you on where your product needs to go. If you don’t have something out there, you will never know how the market will respond. And by the time you do, you may be too late – with a competitor beating you to the punch.