How to Actually Develop an Minimum Viable Product

The Minimum Viable Product Development Technique

“Minimum” refers to the smallest set of features needed to deploy the product for early adopters. “Viable” means that the product must be capable of delivering a core value.

Bastian Moritz
Apr 2024

An MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a development technique in which a new product is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product's initial users. This concept is integral to iterative development methodologies like Agile, allowing teams to maximize the efficiency of their development processes by focusing resources on high-value features.

The purpose of an MVP is to test, iterate, and refine the product's core functionalities with minimal resources to reduce wasted effort and to gather insightful data about customer interactions. This approach helps validate product assumptions with real users and to learn quickly if a proposed business model is viable.

An MVP is not merely a rudimentary version of a product meant to be commercially successful on its own. Rather, it is a strategic tool designed for learning about the market's response to a new product under real conditions. Its primary function is to validate hypotheses about customer needs and market fit quickly and cost-effectively. The idea is to develop the product further based on feedback and data from early adopters.

Therefore, the MVP process involves a cycle of building, measuring, and learning to fine-tune the product and its market fit.

Minimal Viable Product and the Lean Startup

The Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is more than just a product development tool—it is a strategic approach that aligns the development of your product/service (=offering) with business objectives and market realities. It allows you to manage resources efficiently and to engage with your target audience effectively, thereby increasing the likelihood of achieving sustained growth and competitiveness.

  • Aligns the development of your offering with business objectives and market realities.
  • Allows you
    • to manage resources efficiently
    • to engage with your target audience effectively

This makes the concept of an MVP is central to the Lean Startup methodology, which emphasizes rapid and iterative product creation to enhance the likelihood of finding a profitable business model.

The MVP fits into a larger strategic framework by allowing organizations to focus on building and improving products and services through direct and ongoing customer feedback. This methodology reduces the risk of extensive upfront investment in features or services that do not meet market demands.

The purpose and job of the MVP: It’s a learning tool designed to validate assumptions about the market and refine the product, not a final product for scaling.

In the broader context of business strategy and product development then, an MVP serves as a tool to validate hypotheses about market needs and customer behaviors in a real-world environment. This is critical in environments marked by uncertainty and rapid change, where businesses must quickly adapt or pivot according to user feedback, emerging trends or disruptions where innovation requires you to leave a predetermined path.

Specifically regarding product development, the MVP philosophy supports the agile development cycle, which contrasts with the traditional waterfall model that often requires detailed planning and extensive development before any version of the product is released to the market. Agile and MVP methodologies promote flexibility, adaptability, and continual improvement, which are essential in fast-paced and innovation-driven markets.

Value of MVP to the Organization and Offering

The job success of an MVP is accomplished not in its outcome but when fulfills these aspects:

  • Provide Resource Efficiency and Risk Mitigation
  • Provide Faster Feedback and Iteration
  • Provides Alignment with Strategic Goals

Eventually there should be a validation/falsification of Product-Market Fit.

Do not expect an MVP to be instantly successful or highly polished, which misaligns with the MVP's purpose. An MVP includes just enough features to be viable for the early market; it’s expected to be imperfect. Its success is measured by the quality and usability of the insights it generates, not just its immediate market performance.

An MVP should require fewer resources to launch, allowing you to test hypotheses about customer needs and market dynamics without committing extensive time and financial resources.

This mitigates the risk of product failure and ensures that development efforts are concentrated on features that provide real value to users.

By releasing the essential features needed to perform the job customers hire the product for, companies can gather actionable feedback quickly.

Essential does not mean crappy, but resourceful.

Essential means that the feature set must be viable for your early adopter to get their job done.

The rapid iteration process should help refine the product but also accelerates the learning curve about the market, reducing the time to market for improved or additional features.

MVPs support strategic agility. They allow companies to adapt their offerings based on direct market feedback, aligning product development closely with evolving business goals and customer requirements.

When applied to specific products and services the MVP approach helps validate that there is a market demand for the product and that it effectively addresses the job it is hired to do (= validation of product-market fit). This is crucial for avoiding the development of features that do not contribute directly to the primary job, thereby optimizing development expenditures.

The critical mistake is not effectively using the feedback to iterate on the product. If you treat an MVP as a final product rather than a test model, you miss the opportunity to adapt and improve based on user responses. Continuous iteration based on user feedback is essential for refining the product and aligning it more closely with market needs.

Continuous feedback mechanisms inherent in the MVP model ensure that the product evolves in line with user expectations and emerging needs, which enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Minimum and Viable do not equal Crappy

The term "Minimum Viable Product" (MVP) often suffers from misconceptions about what "minimum" and "viable" really mean in this context, leading to errors in its application.

“Minimum” refers to the smallest set of features needed to deploy the product for early adopters. The key is to include just enough to allow the product to be used effectively by customers for the specific job it's intended to do. It doesn't mean stripping the product of all usability or delivering a substandard prototype that doesn't function properly.

“Viable” means that the product must be capable of delivering a core value or fulfilling a primary function that solves a real problem or meets a genuine need for your target customers.

The MVP must be good enough to engage users and fulfill the basic job it's designed for, but it doesn't need every feature planned for the final product. Clients often struggle with deciding how minimal an MVP should be, which can lead to products that are either too basic to be useful or too complex to be sustainable as an MVP you could abandon tomorrow.

It must provide enough value that users are willing to start using it and provide feedback. This doesn't imply a fully featured product, but it should be sufficiently developed to serve its purpose and engage users.

How-to Ensure Success with your MVP

First of all you must have a clear understanding of what the MVP is intended to test or accomplish (hypothesis).

Do not lose focus!

The MVP should be designed with specific hypotheses about user behavior and market needs in mind.

Avoid Over-Simplification in your MVP

Do not strip down the product too much, removing essential features that are critical to the product’s core functionality. This leads to a product that users find inadequate or unusable, which can skew feedback and data collected, making it less useful for iterative development.

Avoid Over-Complication in your MVP

Conversely, adding too many features in the initial phase can cause delays in launch and prevent quick learning from early user interactions. This can also dilute focus from the core value proposition, making it harder to ascertain which features are truly important to users.

Improving the MVP Implementation

To leverage an MVP effectively, make sure that everybody understands that the purpose of the MVP. It’s a learning tool designed to validate assumptions about the market and refine the product, not a final product for scaling.

  • Focus on Core Features: Identify and include just the essential features that will test the hypotheses and meet the minimum needs of your early adopters. Avoid the temptation to include features that are nice to have but not critical for the initial launch.
  • Plan for Iterations: Approach the MVP as the beginning of a process. Plan for iterations and be agile in responding to feedback. Use the insights gained to make informed decisions about which additional features to develop or what changes to make.

Mind, that some iterations may fail but are valuable for the insights they provide.

Communicate these points clearly across the organization so you can harness the full potential of MVPs to innovate and adapt products effectively in a competitive market.

Strategic Implementation

Not every hypothesis about what customers want will hold true. MVPs are designed to test these assumptions.

This means some features or concepts will fail—that's expected and part of the learning process. The key is to fail quickly and cheaply, then pivot or iterate based on what has been learned to better meet market needs.

To effectively implement an MVP, businesses should focus on:

  • Define what assumptions you are testing and how you will measure success.
  • Ensure the MVP is robust enough to give users a real taste of what the product can do, even in a limited form.
  • Use the MVP to initiate a loop of feedback, learning, and development, refining the product iteratively based on user input.
  • Be prepared to pivot or make substantial changes based on what the MVP testing reveals about the market and customer preferences.

MVP and the Discovery of Other ICPs and Jobs

Using an MVP in alignment with the JTBD theory enables organizations to launch products that are not only technically viable but are also precisely tailored to fulfill the jobs that customers need to be done.


The MVP framework is highly valuable in the context of the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) theory, which focuses on understanding the specific tasks customers are trying to accomplish. By leveraging an MVP, organizations can precisely identify and address the core needs associated with a specific job, tailoring their offerings to better serve their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).


In the context of the JTBD framework, the MVP's viability is determined not just by the product's ability to function, but by its ability to enable customers to effectively complete a specific job. This fit between the product and the job is critical for the ICP, as it ensures that the solution not only meets basic expectations but enhances the customer's ability to achieve desired outcomes efficiently and effectively.

Insights for Strategic Growth

This MVP alignment with the JTBD theory maximizes the chances of market success and facilitates the exploration of new markets and opportunities, driving long-term growth and innovation.

  1. Identification of New Customer Segments
  2. Exploration of Additional Jobs

Initial feedback and user interaction data from the MVP can reveal usage patterns that suggest other potential customer profiles who might benefit from the product. This can expand the market reach beyond the initially targeted ICP.

As users interact with the MVP, they may use it in ways not initially anticipated or for jobs other than those it was originally designed to accomplish. This can uncover opportunities to adapt or expand the product features to cater to more lucrative or more widely demanded jobs.

Minimum Viable Product or Minimal Viable Product?

The terms "minimum" and "minimal" are often used interchangeably, but they do have slightly different connotations.

  • Minimum refers to the least or smallest amount or quantity possible, attainable, or required. For example, the minimum amount of money needed to buy something.
  • Minimal refers to a small amount of something or the least amount necessary. It is often used in contexts where simplicity and pared-down elements are emphasized. For example, a minimal design or minimal intervention.

In the context of a product, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) doesn't mean the product is "minimal" or overly simplified, but rather that it meets the minimum requirements to achieve its purpose.

An MVP refers to a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future development.

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