Last week I was talking to another startup who was trying to impress me with his in-depth knowledge of lean startup methodology.

He mentioned often how he used the lean canvas unfailingly every week. How he was pivoting every time he felt the customers were not responding. How he tries to create a Unique Value Proposition.

I will not go through all the misconceptions he had about lean startup, because I will run out of both time and blog-space. I would just like to focus on a specific misconception with regard to the Minimum Viable Product he was building.

I have noticed that startups usually translate MVP as building something small, or something incomplete, or something of low quality. Even if sometimes the MVP may be all of the above (mainly because of time and money constraints), this should not be our primary goal.

The aim is not to bring to the market a bad product in order to see how many potential early adopters will be drawn to it. After all, you could achieve this aim more effectively with a simple demo of the product, while you idea is still at an early stage.

Instead, you should be testing aspects of the business model as well as individual features of the product.

There is no doubt that every feature should be tested separately and in a logical sequence. The MVP just facilitates the presentation of individual characteristics of the end product to the potential customer. This way we can get accurate feedback on the process we follow or (in rare cases) advice on how to make necessary changes.

In addition, the MVP may be an excellent testing ground for certain aspect of the Business Model, ranging from pricing to channels. It could confirm or not our hypotheses regarding where the customers are coming from, how much they are happy to pay, how the competition may react etc.

In all of the above cases, the MVP should not be thought of as a product. It is rather a testing platform that changes often, if not daily, and gives us valuable information on the direction we should be taking. This platform does not have to be cheap or of bad quality. However, it should be build with the least waste possible (in terms of money and time) and it should serve our learning targets.

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