I found this interesting article in HBR (Harvard Business Review). However one has to watch out for accelerators and incubators as they have become new sources of revenue for their host and then there is the issue of IPR and intellectual property. Once you are in… you are in.
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When planning development for your startup the rule of thumb is to focus on building a MVP. The MVP is the Minimum Viable Product that has core features for early adopters and the limited initial group of users.
2 Way To Think About The MVP
Many argue that MVP is the first deliverable product. Crowdfunding site Kickstarter have had numerous prototypes that have been built by developers. Many find that making a product available to early users is an effective way to gauge how the product is going to be received or so called “market acceptance”.
Erstwhile others believe that the use of the MVP would help validate the existence of demand for a product, or in certain cases, the product itself. The goal in this case is more than acceptance but to help create interest for a particular product even before the full version of that product is ready for launch. Often many make a sales page and have interested visitors or testers sign up. TechCrunch has some great tips on how to create the MVP.
Deliver to Market for Early Validation
One of the biggest advantages of building an MVP is that it helps you validate/gain acceptance your product, quickly and to decide whether to continue pursuing your product idea as is or making changes or even ending it before it started. MVPs are only effective when you listen to the market feedback you receive.
Startups are usually based on a vision that revolves around something new, one that is believed to be embraced by a market due to its ability to solve an urgent problem, or fix a specific pain point, faced by that particular market. Like many established setups, startups opt to create a full product based on their initial vision and subsequently make it available to the target market. Often is the case that there isn’t quite as much traction as initially projected. This could be either because the market was not chosen carefully or the product was not compelling enough, it was not “ready enough” or support mechanisms around it were not yet in place.
The obvious question that arises is how it is possible to test a product that has not been fully designed or implemented or without the proper support mechanisms.
Established companies often offer their new “test” product to a specific segment of their customers or a target audience that perhaps they wish to engage. Startups operate in such a way that they will have a chance to learn while making sure their vision is viable - developing and learning on the fly. MVPs act as an effective way to replace ambiguity with certainty with minimal risk and over a relatively short time period.
The most efficient way for a startup to learn is to experiment and test different versions of its products against various metrics. Learning is about increasing the chance for success and validating at the minimum a new way of solving someone´s problem.
By testing their product, and listening to feedback which does not always happen in a startup, founders of a startup can put themselves in a better position to solve the problems of people in their target market.
It is necessary that the startup develops a version of the product that is at a level of completion whereby it can demonstrate the level of value that it can bring to customers.
Having a bare bones MVP it may be difficult for designers to avoid including features requested by users into the initial development, but they should resist such temptation and instead focus on the various experimentations that will help measure the impact of the MVP. In other words do not develop too much until you understand what the market is willing to accept.
The metrics designed to test the effectiveness of an MVP should go beyond happy ears results and go to the real business impact of the core product.
Lean startups must focus on improving how they develop products, e.g. the speed at which they reach the market with the correct products. A lean startup approach uses MVPs to target customers and their specific pain points, test the growth and value. The initial focus of development should be on answering basic questions related to the growth and perceived value. Upon these findings and any changes needed should the focus then shift to growth.
With today´s social network darlings, apps and online games e.g. Fortnite, The higher the rate of acceleration, the more chance the startup has of releasing a relevant product that closely matches what customers in the target market are looking for to solve their paint point or fill that need.
Forbes had a great article on how to keep remote workers involved and productive. The full article can be ready here.