Demystifying what a Minimum Viable Product is

3 minute read

You’ve probably heard the term Minimum Viable Product (or MVP – not to be confused with Most Valuable Player 🏀 of course).

What does it actually mean? Short answer is ‘depends on who you’re asking’. Even seasoned entrepreneurs have probably heard more 493+ definitions of what an MVP is, where it starts, where it stops and what it does.

Let’s try to put some clarity to the concept:

What is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

It stands for the most bare bone version of your product or service that can give you an indication if your idea is needed on the market.

Minimum means no extra features:

  • Nothing that takes too long to implement
  • Nothing that is a ‘nice-to-have’
  • Nothing that doesn’t directly validate your core assumption

Viable means people can use it:

  • People can interact with it and complete a core task (be it making a purchase, scheduling a meeting, signing up or showing interest)
  • The task they complete is relevant to validating your idea

Product is, of course, your product or service.

Is a Minimum Viable Product all about functionality?

MVPs clearly have functionality at their core. But that’s not all there is to them.

Take a cake 🎂 for instance. The core of it is the layers. Then comes the cream filling. Then come the decorations.
If you had a killer cake recipe, but just had layers of baked cake mix, nobody would want it. It would look sad and dry. Add cream filling, a few decorations and that’s it.

An MVP would be you baking a cake at home and trying to sell it to a friend. A product would be you renting our a fully fitted kitchen, baking hundreds of cakes and then trying to sell them, without ever testing the recipe with anyone. What if nobody likes it?

Lots of people go for their idea’s core functional layer. That’s great, but you might spend time on a technical solution that solves a problem, but isn’t positioned properly.

Instead, try to focus on functionality (what makes your idea work, its engine), but sample all the other layers.

What an Minimum Viable Product is not

Normally, an MVP just focuses on one core assumption. All unnecessary features are stripped away.

Say you were building a cold pressed juice company. You’re dreaming of getting a huge juicing machine. People working it. And on a 30 juice range. And snacks. All that sold through your dream online website. That’s your product.
What’s your MVP? A very restricted product range (say 3 juices). Using a home juicer to make them instead of an industrial one. And them trying to sell them before you have your dream website.


Many people feel like that is a betrayal to their idea. Cutting parts that seem vital from your pet project is painful. For all of us. But on the long run, there’s no better service you can do to your future business. Building demand gradually and scaling on a profitable vertical is what a Minimum Viable Product is all about.

If you’re planning to start a business, understanding these concepts saves you countless time and resources. Many second time founders consistently agree that building a prototype, a Minimum Viable Product of their actual business, saved them years of struggle.

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