Minimum Viable Product (MVP); Exploring the Lean Model.

There was a young man in the year 1990, who desperately wished to own a particular pair of shoes. He went to a mall close to his place, but unfortunately, he was unable to find the pair.

Frustrated, he came up with an idea to sell shoes online. And that’s where it all started… MVP was born. Rather than conducting an extensive and expensive market research, he built a basic website.

Then, he approached a shoe store, took pictures of shoes, and placed them on his site. On receiving the order, he purchased the shoes from the store and shipped them out.

That young man was Nick Swinmurn and that was how he built his first company, Zappos, from the scratch. It was later acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion.

For ease of understanding, I’ve broken this topic into three subheadings:

  1. The concept of MVP
  2. Steps to buildMinimum Viable Product.
  3. Failing and Failing fast; The Lean Model


The Concept of MVP

 A Minimum Viable Product is the most basic form of your product or service created with the least resources in the shortest possible time.

You build a Minimum Viable Product by using minimal resources within your reach to create the most basic unit of your idea with the purpose of validating it without wasting resources it and at the same time, learning more about your target market with the least effort.

The basic unit produced, must have all the basic features of the idea that you are proposing but, in a skeletal form and it should be produced within the least possible time(a maximum of a month)

The purpose of MVP is to get your product or service validated within the shortest time by your target market.

This is the most authentic validation for your product because you come in direct contact with your target audience and get feed back from them.

A lot of businesses and ideas (chiefly start-ups), have died because they wanted to produce the perfect product or service first, before taking it to the market. A lot of time, money and resources were invested in the process.

However, when the product or service was taken to the market, the outcome was that not market worthy nor did it have a market potential either.

This is either because it was too expensive or the problem is that the product or service sought to solve already had a solution; or the target market was not ready for the product or service.

These are the reasons why some startups have failed woefully.

MVP is therefore, aimed at correcting these experiences.

The only way to tell if a product will sell, is by taking it to the market and trying to sell it.

By so doing, you find out how many people are willing to pay for it, the reactions of customers, and also notice some loop holes in the product that need improvement.

Another great reason to do an MVP is that, it would enable investors to trust your business idea and invest, because your product or service has been validated by the market. This proves that the basic unit produced is market worthy, has market potential and that the market is ready for more quantities of your product or service.

Steps to build Minimum Viable Product.

  1. Focus on Building the Core: Your MVP should focus on one idea, and it should not include any other function.
  2.  Early Testing Opportunity:It is good to find out from the beginning if your idea will work without investing your whole budget. When it is taken to the market, pay keen attention to the reaction of the customers towards the idea.
  3.  Use intelligence and gather Feedback:The MVP will offer you the possibility to find out your potential users’ opinion, and how they want to see your final product. You are building for real people, not some virtual market! This means that the feedback is of premium importance because it would future guide the trajectory of the production in the future.
  4.  Allow Market Validation:It should present your brand well to the users, and show them how your project is unique as compared to others in its category.
  5.  Don’t spend much timein developing your MVP, 1month is enough. Instead, work with the little resources at your disposal.
  6. Don’t spend much money on it yet… it’s not yet validated!, Instead, work with the little resources at your disposal.
  7.  Avoid crowds: Don’t overcrowd yourself with team mates, volunteers etc. Most time it can be a major distraction. A maximum of four persons is okay.
  8.  Lastly, leverage third party resources (free resources):Until someone has paid for your product or service, you don’t have a business yet. Creating an MVP will help you speed up this process. You will be able to identify and focus on what matters.

The approach of the MVP belongs to the ideology of a Lean startup Model: building a product with a minimal budget in a given time.


Failing and failing fast - the Lean Model.

In today’s complex business environment, things are changing constantly, the speed of execution is more important than perfect execution.

While you maybe trying to perfect a certain solution or product, the situation might have changed already, rendering your product or solution irrelevant.

The Lean Model purports this, “if you must fail, fail fast”. Take your MVP to the market and see whether or not it is accepted by the market.

If it is accepted by market, Awesome! You can take production to the next level.

If it is rejected by the market,it is not a total failure! You’ll learn from your mistakes and experiences. Go back to the drawing board, reengage your mind in the ideation stage, make the necessary adjustments and apply it to the improved version of your new idea that is more connected to what the market needs.

Make it “good enough,” ship it, improve it based on market feedback, rinse and repeat.

Radical innovation happens when you experiment profusely and learn. By learning, you see how best to adapt to the environment and respond by adjusting your product/service incrementally but continually.

The goal of the Lean Model is that you have to succeed.

If your product or service did not pass market validation you don’t remain there, you use the information and experience you’ve gotten to explore the opportunities available to you, improve your idea and produce what is relevant to the market.

Activity for the week…


  • Create a basic form of your product or service and sell it to at least two persons.If you already have one, take it to the market and try selling it to at least two persons. Feel free to ask questions and post the challenges you may encounter in the process of completing this task.

We would do our best to walk you through it.

Remember… mastery comes with practice.

If you encounter any challenges or have any questions during the process, feel free to leave a comment in the description box.

You can also join our Whatsapp group or join the Live Webinars for this Start up Series.

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