MVP

Your MVP is About Discovery – Not Product

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Many entrepreneurs believe the key to an MVP is identifying the right minimal features for the right customers. It turns out this is mostly a fool’s errand because an MVP isn’t about product feat…

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Thanks to Tristan Kromer @Triko for tweeting this posting written by Kevin Dewalt!

Tristan is speaking at the Startup Product Summit SF2 on October 11, 2013 Register today for best price! http://bit.ly/11J59AG

Salient points:

  • In the real world people selectively listen in conversations, give us inconsistent feedback, change their minds, and think about problems differently. Products are difficult to scope and hard to build.
  • Don’t fall in love with my process – fall in love with the Big Idea – Steve Blank, Beijing 2013
  • Startups are about discovery: searching for a scalable model, not executing on an idea.
  • your MVP – as a product – is going to suck.
  • some of the most passionate people you meet in interviews never even try the product. Apathetic – and even very negative – people may become your most passionate customers when they start using a product.
  • building an MVP will help you discover about you
  • stop worrying about the ideal set of product features and make your best guess with the information you have and get an MVP – however you define it – in the hands of customers. It’s the only way to keep the Discovery process going.

See on kevindewalt.com

Startup Product Talks: Two Steps to Making Your MVP a Success with Poornima Vijayashanker

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Too often companies spend a lot of time fixated on perfecting their prototype.  After putting in a lot of effort to build it, they launch, but are left wondering why users aren’t using their product!  In this talk I’ll cover the two most critical steps companies overlook, which can save them from wasted efforts and lead them to a successful launch.

Poornima shared her presentation!

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Join us to learn the two most critical steps companies overlook, which can save them from wasted efforts and lead them to a successful launch.

See on www.meetup.com

Listen to Poornima on the Global Product Management Talk:

Listen to internet radio with ProdMgmtTalk on BlogTalkRadio

http://bit.ly/Vn5UtB

Minimum Viable Product vs. Minimum Delightful Product | Startup Blender

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Minimum Viable Product revisited

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Mentioned on Global Product Management Talk discussion with @NickCoster regarding Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) distinction http://bit.ly/15aYcYY

See on www.startupblender.com

5 things that Eric Ries never meant

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5 things which Eric Ries never meant in his book The Lean Startup 1. Build a quick and dirty minimum quality product to test with your users: The Lean Startup book gives a simple rule, “Remove any …

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Great points by Vivek Vijayan:

Eric Ries never intended his book The Lean Startup to encourage misinterpretation such as:

1. dilute quality

2. skip planning

3. MVP equals sub-optimal product

4. successful experiments automatically scale

5. success is guaranteed with enough pivoting

See on productmantra.net

Key Takeaways from the Roadmapping and Execution Panel at Startup Product Summit SF

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By Michelle Sun

Here are the notes for the Roadmapping and Execution Lightning Talks and Panel at Startup Product Summit SF.  Omissions and errors are mine (please let me know if you find any, thank you!), credit for the wisdom is entirely the speakers’.

“Building a Great Product Through Communication” – Joe Stump, Co-Founder, Sprint.ly

  • Product manager’s role is to capture, communicate and distill product ideas, and mediate between business stakeholders and makers.
  • When building a product, pick two out of the three: quickly, correctly, cheaply.  Joe later mentioned on Twitter that he would pick quickly and correctly, as paying for quality is no brainer.
  • “Want to increase innovation? Lower the cost of failure” – Joi Ito
  • Empower every developer to commit things to the product through non-blocking development (NBD).
  • Advocate the move to 100% asynchronous communication because current approach is broken (needs human input to track reality) and remote teams are becoming more common.

“Raw Agile: Eating Your Own Dog Food” – Nick Muldoon, Agile Program Manager, Twitter

  • Twitter does dog-fooding by allowing developers deploy to internal server. Dog-fooding allows:
    • gathering real data from real (though internal) users.
    • increases incentive to produce quality shipped code.
    • better feedback.  He found that feedback in dog-fooding environment is generally more constructive.
    • keeps momentum through a positive reinforcing loop of continuous deployment and feedback. The team gets 50-100 feedback from internal users each day.
  • How to decipher and sift through the volume of feedback.  Look at only the “love” feedback, then all the “hate”, then discard the middle, categorize and show to the whole team.
  • Other important aspects in dog-fooding:
    1. Automation. Allow deploy more frequently especially internally.  ”On any commit, deploy internally.” Avoid accumulating technical debt.
    2. Visibility. Record progress and share on a wiki.
    3. SpeedMinimize cycle time (from to do to in progress, to done).

Best Practices for Architecting Your App to Ship Fast and Scale Rapidly” – Solomon Hykes, Founder & CEO, dotCloud

  • 3 things to aim for in architecting your app: speed (continuous deployment), scale, future-proofing (be prepared for things moving very fast, avoid bottleneck and need to refactor when adding every new feature).
  • What are the patterns/strategies in getting to these three goals?
    1. Be aware of trade-offs. There is no silver bullet; always trade-offs and prioritization.
    2. Trade-offs evolve over time.  Priorities change. Be aware of assumptions and revisit them from time to time.
    3. Trade-offs differ from team to team.  Be aware of bias in different teams. Always keep ownership of key decisions.
  • Put yourself in a position where you are embarrassed, and things are going to happen faster.

“Rocket Powered Bicycles: Avoiding Over and Under Engineering your Product” – Chris Burnor, Co-Founder & CTO, GroupTie & Curator, StartupDigest

  • A product connects business priorities with user experience.
  • Proposes that instead of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), think about Product: Viable Minimum (PVM).  Focus on viability.
  • A scientific method to approaching product roadmapping.
    • Idea: think about business priorities, user experience.  Do not let technical decisions drive your product.  Let product drive your technical decisions.
    • Test: Viability of the solution is whether it solves the problem it’s setting out to solve.  Determine what level of viability is suitable in different stages: GroupTie’s first viable minimum was a keynote presentation that was sent to potential customers.
      Scale of tests will vary.  Lack of big tests means the lack of breakout growth/ideas, lack of small tests means the team is doing too much.
    • Conclusion:  Debriefing phase is vital, share test results with the team and learn what it means to the idea. Testing without debriefing is like “talking without listening” in a conversation.
  • An unusual example of a PVM is Apple.  Product first: cares about user experience and business priorities.  Viability second: it just works.  Minimalism third: wait till a technology is ripe before adding to the product (no LTE for a long time, no RFID).

Notes on other panels:

About The Author

Michelle Sun is a product enthusiast and python developer.  She worked at Bump Technologies as a Product Data Analyst and graduated from the inaugural class of Hackbright Academy. Prior to Hackbright, she founded a mobile loyalty startup. She began her career as an investment research analyst. When she is not busy coding away these days, she enjoys blogging, practicing vinyasa yoga and reading about behavioral psychology. Follow her on Twitter at @michellelsun and her blog.

Key Takeaways from the Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping Panel at Startup Product Summit SF

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By Michelle Sun

I had the privilege to attend the first Startup Product Summit in SF on Feb 7, 2013. It was a great lineup of speakers and a full room of buzzing energy and great conversation.  Without further adieu, I’d like to share some key learnings of each panel.

Please let me know if I omitted or made any errors in the references. Credit for the good stuff is entirely the speakers’ (link to twitter handles are included on each name).

Turning Mediocre Products into Awesome Products” – Jonathan Smiley, Partner & Design Lead, ZURB

  • Ideation and iteration can ”turn mediocre products into awesome products”.
  • Discussed a full spectrum of research from market-driven (focus group, survey) to user-driven (remote teaching, usability teaching)
  • Importance of sketching, a lot, aim for speed and volume, then critique
  • Advice to the audience: ”do 10 more sketches ( more ideation is always better ), build 1 more prototype, get 1 more round of feedback, ask 5 more customers”

“Being a UX Team of One” – Vince Baskerville, Product, Lithium & Co-Founder, TripLingo

1. Internal politics is a common challenge as a UX team/professional.  Learn to manage expectation of different internal stakeholders and keep everyone in the loop.

2. Don’t listen to what customers are saying.  Users’ claims are often unreliable.  See what they are doing.  Understand the underlying issue.

“Validate Your MVP on Paper” – Poornima Vijayashanker, Founder & CEO, BizeeBee & Femgineer

– 2 Reasons MVP Fail
1. Fail to figure out how to provide a simple value proposition that differentiates your product from your competition
2. Fail to figure out who their early adopter are.

– Early adopters are people who aren’t using the competitor’s product. Don’t want to take time to switch over.

– Steps on usability testing

  1. Explain the problem. What you are testing. How they are helping. Get them excited about the idea.
  2. Set expectations. Make them comfortable.
  3. Communicate intention (what exactly are you testing and specific feedback you are looking for).
  4. Thank them for their time. Follow up regularly.

Poornima’s slides are available here.

“Everyone’s Customers Are Wrong” – Evan Hamilton, Head of Community, UserVoice

  • Data doesn’t tell the whole story.  Analytics are bandaids because we can’t watch our customers.
  • People don’t tell the whole story.  Identify who the users are, where the feedback are from.  Are they: paying/freeloaders? Using product in the intended way? Using main features? Early adopters / ‘tech fanatics’ (who are not likely to stay on a product for the long haul)?
  • Combine data and customer stories.  Customer feedback / feature suggestion usually leads from a deeper issue.  Find out what the actual problem is by understanding the underlying need.
  • Don’t lose track of your creative mind by getting lost in data rat-hole.  Don’t chase 1% when you can get 15%.  Not just A/B, but try something crazy.  Try big bold things along with incremental fine-tunes.

“Designing for Everyone: The Craft of Picking or Killing a Concept” –Miki Setlur, Product Designer, Evernote

  • Everyone use product in many different ways.  A useful strategy is to segment users into business, partners (e.g., app stores for Evernote’s case) and users.
  • Figure out what each segment cares the most about: Business / Partners – acquisition, retention, engagement, revenue.  Users – being faster, better, happier.
  • Case study on how Evenote’s design process stroke balance between business goals (monetizing) while being sensitive to user experience and goals (finding things faster).

Other relevant points 

How to access willingness to pay during pre-product interviews.  Get the first dollar within the trial period.  Provide clear value proposition from the get-go.

How to get good feedback.  Be specific in what feedback are you looking for.  Instead of asking in general ‘what do you think of the prototype’, ask whether they are confused on what stage, what was confusing.

Tips on prototyping. Put more emphasis on story telling than illustrating.
For remote testing, use keynote as prototyping tool, screencast the keynote.

On the tension between product vs. business goals in roadmapping a product.  Early stage products make sense to focus on product.  Once reached product market fit, it makes sense to lead with business goals such as, acquiring, converting, retention customers.
Also mentioned was a tool called Impact Mapping.

Read on:

About The Author

Michelle Sun is a product enthusiast and python developer.  She worked at Bump Technologies as a Product Data Analyst and graduated from the inaugural class of Hackbright Academy. Prior to Hackbright, she founded a mobile loyalty startup. She began her career as an investment research analyst. When she is not busy coding away these days, she enjoys blogging, practicing vinyasa yoga and reading about behavioral psychology. Follow her on Twitter at @michellelsun and her blog.