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Hit The Buffet Of MVPs

Project 1: Understanding MVPs ยท Lesson 5 ยท

Not all MVPs are created equal. In this lesson, Evan goes over the different kinds of MVPs out there, and why each might be a good fit for you. Now with more monkeys!

MVPs come in all shapes and sizes and, more importantly, serve to create different kinds of validation. Some are more complex, and closer to an actual Version 1 of a product, while some are incredibly basic. The thing that all MVPs have in common is that they fake it until they make it. Whatever kind of MVP you build, however complete it is or isn't, you're going to pretend that you have something polished so that people seriously engage with it. And if enough people do that, congratulations, your MVP has made it. 

There are five main kinds of MVP, and they all involve different levels of effort, different amounts of actually making things vs. faking things. 


In order of least effort to greatest these are: 

Google Forms: You can build surveys or order forms, in under 20 minutes. These are great for simple up/down votes of confidence. You ask people if they want to buy something specific, and if they do, they submit the form. 

Email Validation: Slightly more complex than its cousin the Google Form, an email validation MVP asks for viewers to demonstrate more interest by viewing a pitch via email, and then taking the effort to click a "Buy It" button, or respond in some way to demonstrate their interest. 

Explainers: This involves slightly more effort, because it's a video that explains the product. But you have incredible latitude as to what that video is. Stick figures? Sock puppets? Text/photo based voiceover? All valid forms of creating an explainer, as is a product demo. Explainers are great in general because people engage with video more readily than plain text. But they're specifically good for products that have complex ideas attached to them, or are hard to explain. 

Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are a pretty demonstrative MVP, because people actually fund you in order for you to build your product. But it involves much more effort: you have put together a decent pitch video, offer rewards - and more importantly, if you receive your funding goal, you're locked into making something for your backers.

Landing Page/Pitch Experiment: This also involves effort as you actually design a landing page for your product as though it already exists or is coming soon. It's not coming particularly soon, but the idea is to see if the people who encounter your page demonstrate interest in some way. 

Concierge Service: This involves way more effort on your part, because you more or less become a concierge. The concierge service MVP breaks out the different features of a given product and offers them individually as services to see if people actually want those services. 

Pantsless App/Wizard Of Oz: This is a site that, on the front, or the user's, end, looks fully automated and shiny and functional. On the back end, however, you are manually performing all of the functions by hand. In the Zappos example, it meant someone actually running across the street to buy and ship shoes people ordered. By the user's side, they used the site and then shoes they wanted appeared. ~*Magic*~