How to choose an MVP for your startup? A guide to MVP types.

Let’s talk today about MVP and the types of MVPs.

MVP (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. There are also different conceptions, like MWP (Minimum Wowable Product) or MLP (Minimum Lovable Product), but let’s stick to a classical MVP meaning.

How many types of MVP do you know?

To be honest, there are a lot of variations. But we prefer these five main types:

  • Fake landing page
  • Fundraise to build
  • Concierge
  • Wizard of Oz
  • Single-feature product

You can see in the pic the big orange arrow. It shows the gradation of MVP type based on the product’s readiness state. From the left — your MVP doesn’t need an existing product. You just fake it. From the right — you have a minimal product that people can use. From left to right, MVP evolves into a product, taking more time and effort accordingly.

Let’s look at them in detail.

1️⃣ Fake landing page

It’s the most simple option of how to start validating your idea. You don’t need to build anything. You create a simple website explaining your future product. Launch several ad campaigns to this landing page and see what people do on it, are they interested, do they do pre-orders?

Why spending months developing a product to find out nobody wants it when you can spend one day designing a landing page that will provide the same answer to the question: does anyone even care about your product idea?

A landing page is one of the fastest ways to validate an idea and try to create some traction without developing anything. You can create few landing pages, craft your value proposition, play around with the design, the copy, even the name of the product, add an early registration form and start promoting everything as if you are marketing a real product.

Choose the relevant channels (Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, etc.) run some ads and bring some traffic to the landing pages to convince users to click on the CTA button (dummy install or sign-up).

You can measure and learn a lot just by analyzing one or more landing pages. It’s a great way to start. This technique can easily end up with a great list of early adopters willing to give your future product a try.

2️⃣ Fundraise to build

Launch a crowdfunding campaign among potential clients and build on the money you raise, if any. The main idea is getting people to commit money to purchase a product that hasn’t been built yet. The most well-known method is using a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. You register at this platform and describe the product you want to develop, your ability to build it, and a description of how the funds collected will be allocated. Finally, you promise to produce the product if it reaches a certain level of pre-orders by a certain time. If it does not achieve that level of funding in time, it is not required to produce the product. Such an approach allows you to directly test the most critical assumption of your product, that people will pay money for it. This approach works especially well for products that need a base of customers in order to be sustainable or require an upfront cost to build (e.g., hardware products). Such MVP is also highly scalable, as the more commitment you generate, the more money you get to develop more products.

3️⃣ Concierge

The hybrid between Customer Development & MVP. Carry out the service entirely manually for every client to generate ideas and see a readiness to buy. It helps you validate whether or not they need what you’re offering.

A Concierge MVP is seemingly counter-intuitive, as you take the automation out of the process you want to automate. Instead of building a prototype, you provide the style of service manually to a small group of test customers. The key here is to provide the level and type of service you envision your final product will be providing. For this MVP type, the test customers must understand that the service is being provided by a person and that in exchange for this personal attention, they must be willing to provide extensive feedback.

The downside of this MVP is that it is not scalable at all. But it is not intended to be. The benefit for you is that it allows getting hands-on experience seeing how a potential client will work and use your service. Plus, your clients pay for using the service. Not only are you measuring a client’s commitment to using the service, but you also lower your overall risk by understanding how the service will be used.

Concierge MVPs are great in situations where your potential clients are offline or not comfortable with technology and where customer satisfaction is a decisive competitive advantage. It is also useful where logistic issues are challenging to gauge, and operational investments to develop an effective online MVP is very expensive.

4️⃣ Wizard of Oz

From the outside, your service looks like a fully-functional system. But under the hood… Fake the supposed to be automatic features of your product, by doing them manually to test product hypothesis. In the early days, it is much cheaper to mimic a functioning system. The result is actual data generated from the user interacting with a system that they believe works perfectly.

The difference between The Wizard of Oz and Concierge MVP that customers think that an automatic system manages their requests and actions. The benefit of this is to strip away some evaluation issues with Concierge MVP; people are more likely to give negative feedback when they think the problem originates with a machine as opposed to individual performance.

The Wizard of Oz MVP has the same scalability issues as the Concierge MVP, as well as most of the same benefits. This MVP type is best for businesses that will eventually need sophisticated technology for their service to work in particularly sensitive industries, such as finance or health.

5️⃣ Single-feature product

Figure out what should be the core functionality. Build your product with only one feature or minimal functionality to get the early traction and validation. The benefit of this approach is that Single-feature products are generally faster to build and easier to explain to potential customers.

This MVP type is challenging because of the lack of complaints about it doesn’t signal something good; it can mean that people aren’t engaging with it because they don’t see the value of the solution to their business or needs. If you don’t hear complaints, check your analytics to see if users use your service. If not, it means you have to adjust the assumption of what should be in your MVP.

This MVP works especially well for companies with an established building or product that are looking to innovate or spinoff a product or for a small business trying to enter a market with established expensive alternatives.

How to choose your type?

The MVP you choose depends on what you want to learn.

The main idea behind the startups is learning! Learning about potential customers and what product they will love. So the type you choose mostly depends on what you want to learn (and on your type of business).

One more thing. Regardless of what MVP type you choose, never lose sight of what all of these variations are supposed to do — test the commitment of your customer base as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Focus on providing the best representation of what you are trying to achieve, and don’t be afraid to charge your future customers.

If you still have questions about the article or you have own idea of “next big thing” drop us a line and we would be pleased to support you. Cheers!

Originally published at

Reasonable MVPs for your business