The Lean Startup strategy is an exciting movement that has emerged in recent years. While not a guarantee of success, the Lean methodology does provide an alternative approach to building a business which in essence saves time and money while making startup building more efficient, customer-driven, and intuitive. According to the Lean Startup website, “The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.”
Let’s continue where we left off in Part 1 by turning attention to the first major principle of the Lean approach to building your startup: the MVP.
Prototyping Your MVP
Traditional approaches to running a startup have depended on a long, protracted development process of getting a product out the door. The problem with this is that it’s not only costly and time-consuming but also risky when there is no guarantee that the product will meet with success.
The Lean idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is to build a product based on what people want, not what you think they need. An MVP has just the minimum number of features to get deployed and no more. This deployment will usually be to your early adopters, who will understand your vision and likely provide feedback for future iterations. You can then pivot off of their feedback and add new functionality to your product as you go.
Consider how one source has described the advantage of optimizing your startup:
Would you rather wait the 1-2 weeks it could take to get the landing page up and running? Why not start with running some experimental ads, leading to the relevant product page on your Web site. During those two weeks you are working on the landing pages, you will gain invaluable feedback by analyzing the conversion of your ad copy, and your keywords.
Adopting an MVP out of the gate stands in sharp contrast to waiting for the product beta release with all the bells and whistles, which customers may not ultimately want anyway. So with an MVP you save lots of money and avoid wasting precious time.
So what are some examples of a MVP? It can be any number of things: an ad on Google, a PowerPoint slide, a dialog box, or a simple landing page, a mockup of a mobile app. The key point here is that they don’t have to be elaborate. The purpose of an MVP is to test assumptions about whether customers you don’t know personally are willing to adopt your ideas.
There are a considerable number of “how to” resources and prototyping tools online for helping you to build out your MVP. This list provides a comprehensive overview of the best GUI tools to draw your screen mockups. The static wireframe has been a popular way for showing a design concept, though in recent years wireframing platforms have become much more dynamic.
Tools like Proto.io offer a full range of Mobile app prototyping features such as interactions, screen transitions, touch gestures, animations, along with UI Libraries for iOS, Android, Windows. You can mockup a really nice Mobile app concept in no time and then send it as a link to designated reviewers who will give you feedback.
JustinMind is another great tool that features specialized tools for creating high-fidelity mobile and web application prototypes. The platform is intuitive and easy to use, allowing the novice to generate fully functional HTML prototypes and customized MSWord specifications in no time.
So there you have it . . . a brief overview of the essentials to kick off your MVP. This doesn’t need to be elaborate but rather should be designed to give your customers a rough idea of your business concept. Build a mockup, post it on a landing page, and get some feedback.
In Part 3 we’re going to discuss the importance of “Getting outside the building” and find out who your early adopters are and how you can get them onboard with your innovative idea.