MVP - Most Valuable Parley or Minimum Viable Product?

As I write this guest blog post it is the last week in September, two and a half months since the London Academy. I have my roadmap open in front of me and I’m wondering what I have achieved in that time.

Physically, not very much. But I have had lots and lots of conversations about my project and have been developing the ideas in my head. At my September catch up with my mentor (the amazing Patrick Hausammann), I was feeling a bit guilty that I didn’t have anything to show him. But he explained that having conversations about your idea is a great first step. This is because you start to build a network of users and influencers who can make the project a reality. Also, those quick 5 minute chats are really inspiring and generate loads of new ways of looking at my project.

The only issue is that every person I talk to has a different idea of what my eventual product will look like. This is great when you are trying to explore different options for the final design, but it can be overwhelming and has stopped me from actually building any product so far.

This is where a minimal viable product (MVP) will help. It gives the user a feel for what the final project might look like but without the time and resources involved to develop a fully functioning product. 

My project is around accessing and analysing student data. One of the many conversations I have had has given me the idea that I can build an MVP using test data rather than accessing the live student database. This will save time developing the MVP and means I could get a product built in a few weeks rather than months. The important part of the process is to gather user feedback, and in my case now, to get to a point where this is possible. As soon as the product becomes real the user can give you valid feedback on how they are interacting with the product rather than on what they can imagine it would be like. 

So that’s my next step. To create an MVP that will give the users an idea of the final project but will still give me time to adapt and change the product based on their feedback. 

Even though I don’t yet have anything physical to show, my project feels like it has moved a step closer to becoming a reality. I just need to build the MVP before my next mentor meeting in October, otherwise, I am definitely going to feel guilty I haven’t started.

Editor's Note: Many thanks to Darren for his insight. You can follow Darren at @simons_darren. There are no more Innovator academies this year but you can sign up for updates here. This way, as soon as some 2020 innovator academies are posted, you will know.


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