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  • Amit Jain

Prototype the MVP, test it, and some advice

A few ways to test your hypothesis, tools to build the MVP & some advice!


Stage 1 - (pre-seed) - Ideation to MVP The first startup stage is the ideation of a simple product with the minimum features needed to satisfy a demand from users/clients. This product is also known as MVP - Minimum viable product. It’s highly unlikely that the initial idea comes close to the final MVP. During this stage, the key is to learn what the user or client wants without obsessing over a “perfect” product. MVP tests are designed not just to answer technical questions about the product, but also to test fundamental business hypotheses about the viability of the market it exists in.

To quickly prototype an MVP, I recommend these tools (suit your needs)

1) Customer interviews - This customer validation process helps you to test your hypotheses with actual customers. Search phase (Customer discovery & validation) - keep pivoting till you get the validation. Execution phase (Customer creation & company building). These are essentially an unscripted interview with customers designed to elicit information about the problem your product is trying to solve. These interviews are meant to be exploratory rather than as a sales pitch for your product, functional or otherwise. These interviews can be a gold-mine of actionable information because even if your assumed problems turn out to be not as important to the customer, you still have valuable data that can help you pivot your offering.

2) Landing pages - The first page visitors and potential customers come to when they’re led down the funnel towards your product. It’s also a great MVP that lets you test your product against real-world market expectations. Landing pages are often misused as glorified email capture pages, but they can be used more extensively to test the product. See the usage here "Sell first, build later". The objective is validated learning, so collecting visitor analytics with tools like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics or CrazyEgg is the most important part of it. You also need an effective value-proposition and call to action.

3) Ad campaigns - Perhaps counterintuitively, ad campaigns are a great way of running market validation surveys. Running a campaign through these services gives you statistics like click-through-rates and conversions which can be valuable information in determining what your product will be and how it will run. These can be combined with A/B tests.

4) Fundraising - Use a few crowdfunding websites as this would provide a great platform for running MVP tests. These websites are essentially collections of MVPs where the market response is judged by the interest people show in the form of contributions to the campaigns.

5) Piecemeal MVPs - the Piecemeal MVP means putting together a functioning demo of your product using existing tools and services to deliver the experience instead of building anything yourself.

6) Blogs - Blogs are a great way of validating ideas with the right target market in minimal effort. Blogging platforms including Ghost and App.net began in concept on their founders’ blogs where they continued to flesh out their ideas and gain support from a community of followers and supporters.

7) Digital prototypes - Mockups, wireframes, and prototypes can be used to demonstrate the product’s functionality in a way that mimics the actual usage. These prototype MVPs can range from low-fidelity sketches to screenshot previews to more complicated “dummy” applications that demo the user experience. You can use collaborative wireframing and prototyping tools like UXPin that let you express what you want to build and share those ideas transparently with the team.

Content credit -- Personal experience in building WeddingZ.in (India's largest wedding venture) & Credit

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