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Downward Trends of MVPs

At Body Boss, we built features on feedback that coaches would buy and be more engaged, but we didn’t see upticks in conversions once features were built. Instead, sometimes, the best customer discovery occurs when you’re actually testing an MVP – minimum viable product.

I’ve been working with several startups since Body Boss and each claim to be building an “MVP”. But instead, they’ve overbuilt their products adding complexity in features and user experience.
From these “MVPs”, I’ve noticed common trends leading to poor adoption and significant rework:
  • Developing an MVP in silo. By nature, entrepreneurs believe they know the “right way” to address a problem, so they starting building their vision. However, the right way may only address the problem for a few versus a mass market. Building an MVP alongside customer-partners from the beginning mitigates risks of missing bigger opportunities or building unwanted features.
  • Inability to adapt hypotheses and approach. Entrepreneurs can be extremely bullish in their beliefs of what is right, resisting the pull of the market. This can be a terrible trap where the market isn’t listened to. If they aren’t heard, they won’t buy.
  • Focusing on one side. In startups with two markets (think: Uber, Airbnb with supply and demand), it’s hard to successfully recruit one market without the other. There is no “chicken” or “egg” in priority anymore. Yet, I’ve seen too much effort focused on one side, while the other is ignored.
  • Building too much, too soon. A startup should evolve as the market evolves and matures. However, many entrepreneurs try building their visions of grandeur on Day 1. As a new startup, there’s a high level of education for the market and low degree of trust. Building too much early on can overwhelm consumers (bad experience!) and potentially dilute the startup’s value proposition.
What are your thoughts of customer discovery via an MVP? What trends have you seen when building an MVP? How have startups over built MVPs that you’ve seen and the problems that have come about?

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