Start With the MVP – Why More Features Is Not Always Better

Most Valuable Player?


Minimum Viable Product.

That version of your mobile app that has “just enough” features needed to go to market, or start validating the product with your customers.

It is both Viable (delivers on your core offering and provides the solution it was created for) and Minimum (without all the bells and whistles).

The Sleep Number bed is a great example.

The original version of the bed (the c2) did what it was created to do. It solves the problem caused when one partner likes the bed softer or firmer than the other, by allowing each to control the firmness setting on their side of the bed.

Later innovations to the Sleep Number added bells and whistles such as SleepIQ and the DualTemp layer.

The Problem with Traditional Software Development

A very traditional approach to software development looks like this….

Spend months and months brainstorming, planning, and determining each and every wonderful feature your mobile app will have.

Architect it all out. Create the blueprint, so to speak.

Months and months of design, coding and testing.

KAPOW…the Big reveal!

*Fingers crossed, we hope they like it!*

This approach has been aptly coined the Waterfall model, because the process cascades…first this, then this, then that, the end.

It is time-consuming, risky and slow.

What if there was a better way? What if you could get your product to market faster, with less risk AND reduce costs?

Start with the MVP.

Rather than trying to predict every feature you or your users will ever want (and risk being wrong with those guesses); let’s start smaller.

Create a working version that does what it’s supposed to do as quickly as possible. Try it out, seek feedback from users and iterate.

This lean approach to software development looks more like a circle…plan, develop, test, release, evaluate…repeat.

Starting with the MVP is an approach that will help your organization:

  • Reduce risk, and costs, by not over-developing too soon
  • Get your innovation to market faster
  • Solicit user feedback earlier in the development process
  • Move quickly and adapt to changes by planning in smaller pieces

Um…How Minimum is this “Minimum Viable Product“?

If you are going to market with your MVP I suggest doing it justice. If you’d invented the gasoline-powered automobile, a skateboard won’t do.

On the other hand…if Karl Benz had waited until he figured out automatic transmission and power windows…someone else would have beat him to it.


Start With the MVP” was originally published on the Big Fish Digital blog. Reprinted with permission.