Why Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) Are Bad (and what to do instead)

About to launch a new business? You have heard of the idea of an MVP, or minimum viable product.

Traditional idea

To predict whether a startup idea will be successful, you build an MVP and test if the market likes it.

But this isn’t always the best idea. Here’s what to do instead.

The problems with MVP

– MVP leads founders to overbuild

When you build an MVP, you start thinking about all the features your product needs.

This takes your eyes off the core insights you need to validate.

– MVP leads creators to focus on what customers say

If you’ve been in the marketing game for a while, you’ll know that what customers say they want doesn’t reflect what they actually buy.

– MVP makes for horrible core products

When a startup wants to rush to get a product out the door, they end up making poor decisions that reflect in the long term.

For example, Tesla FSD is a type of MVP that’s been used to try to improve the unit economics of their vehicles and also give them a public narrative about their advancements on autonomous driving.

But it’s not even close to full self-driving and a system that in reality requires total attention of the human driver is a huge legal and regulatory risk.

Many people paid $10,000 for it and are still waiting to receive it years later (and the product doesn’t exist anyway).

The solution?

MVT, or minimum viable tests.

What’s an MVT?

If you’re launching a startup, it means you have a hypothesis (some assumptions) about the market. With MVT, you’re testing these assumptions to see if they are true. If they are, you will be successful.

Step 1 – Find your value propositions

How are you going to give value to users?

Keep this simple.

Airbnb, Stripe, and Uber had ridiculously simple value propositions.

Even though these companies didn’t do things like companies before them, they kept with a simple value proposition.

Step 2 – List the riskiest assumptions that might lead your business to succeed or fail

Test hypothesis about your market fit, the market size, marketing, margins, etc.

Step 3 – Test the atomic unit of what you plan to sell

For Google, it’s a search query, which comes with the ability to deliver advertising.

For Amazon, ordering a product online.

Remember, the key here is to test what you think you already know versus building a completely new product to see if it will work.


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