The Real MVP - Validating a Business In Two Days

The concept of the Minimum Viable Product established itself pretty much overnight, and became part of the lexicon of all budding entrepreneurs. People read Eric Ries’s manifesto, it struck a chord, and for good reason. It was a great guide to help people figure out what to spend time on, and just as importantly what not to.

One discussion we often have with each other and with our clients is what MVP actually means. How do you define what “minimum” actually means in practice? Often we find that founders and product owners have spent a long time thinking about their business, and naturally come up with dozens of aspects that they feel need to be tested. It’s understandably hard to detach from this and think critically about what the essence of the business is.

This is a crucial moment in the process of starting a business. It’s really easy to get led astray, burning up time and money testing things that will not ‘move the needle’ in terms of the overall business. It’s easy to come up with ideas. It’s hard to narrow them down.

So we got talking about just how minimal you could go. Could you validate a business in a month? What about a week? What about 2 days? And so the Micro Startup Validation was born.

We have an internal project idea that we think is a good candidate to try this out. It’s an idea around making new friends and meeting new people. But it’s more the means than the end that we are interested in learning about.

We’re going to get a team of 4 people to spend 2 full days on the idea. We plan on carrying out:

  • Customer Development. Trying to figure out if people would find the app useful, how they would use it, what they like and dislike about the idea. We’ll come up with a set of hypotheses that we want to test.
  • Product Development. Mocking up the app on paper so that everyone understands how it works. Then actually building the app and any server side services that it needs. We’ll also be submitting it to the App/Play Store.
  • Marketing. We’re going to market the app in as many creative ways as we can possibly think up, both on and offline, trying to get the maximum amount of exposure with the minimum amount of effort (and budget!)
  • Analytics. Looking at all the data that we have generated and trying to figure out if the app has legs.

Some of this work will run concurrently and some sequentially, so the whole process will take longer than 2 days, but we plan on limiting it to a total of 64 hours of effort across the team.

We’re going to post about each of the 4 aspects bulleted above, and then have a wrap up with all of our feelings, hopes, fears, dreams and all of those things.