Before you empty your 401(k) or max out your credit cards trying to build an idea into a business, it's imperative that you make sure your risk and labor will pay off.
For entrepreneurs, an effective way to validate an idea is to test out a minimum viable product, or MVP, with real potential customers.
An MVP can take many forms, as you'll see below, but as Steve Blank reminds us, it can help to answer two specific questions:
- Is the problem I want to solve considered a problem by anyone else?
- Does the general solution (not specifically the product) I’m envisioning solve the problem I’ve identified?
Exploring the market in this way can help you learn about your customers without wasting a lot of time, capital or other valuable resources. It can also highlight ideas that don't have legs, or help you pivot to something even more suited to your intended audience.
Below, three entrepreneurs share how they created effective MVPs, including developing a commercial for a non-existent product, poorly designing a website and incrementally improving on the first 10 percent of an idea.
Creating a Commercial Before You Have a Product
Zach Kaplan, founder of Inventables
When Your First Website Involves Comic Sans
Alexis Tryon, co-founder of Artsicle
Added Features Should Be Natural Extensions of the Product
Ryan Freitas, co-founder of About.me