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Initial offering

Launching an initial offering is a challenge for most companies. What are the features my customers require? How can I differentiate my offerings from that of my competitors? How many features do I need to go to market?

The concept of a minimal viable product (MVP) is addressing those and more questions. A MVP is a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development. Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increase costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions. The term was coined and defined by Frank Robinson, and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.

At fluidminds we have created a canvas that helps you define your MVP and later transform a MVP into a minimal viable business. The objective is to learn and earn very early in the process and refine your offering based on validated Hypothesis and real customer feedback to ensure you develop somethings your customers truly want.

The MVP canvas consist of 3 major areas:

  1. Functional requirements: The main area of the canvas is used for the definition of the “user stories”. You formulate user stories always based on the view of the user and you start with: “The user likes to….” or “the user needs to….”. You priorities your user stories based on how easy they are to be addressed and how well they cover the pre-defined Business DNA from your Business Model Canvas (see Newsletter March 2016 ) User stories that you position in the “must have” category are elements of your initial offering. User stories you position in “should have” and “could have” are elements for future iterations.
  2. Non-functional requirements: Besides the functional requirements we have included an area for the definition of the non-functional requirements. Those requirements are things like: design, usability, supportability, scalability, etc. Those requirements are often key to define the platform or tools required to develop your product or service.
  3. Competition: Last but not least we have included an area to check out the competitions offerings. What “user stories” offers your main competitor and what non-functional requirements do they address? To have a clear differentiation to your competitors is especially important when you want to launch a product or service with the aim to migrate users to your offering.

As mentioned in our blogpost from April 2016 some hypothesis can only be tested if you have a first offering in market. It is important that you connect back to your work in the Business Model Canvas and to the Hypothesis and Experiments canvas to include the testing of those hypothesis now and integrate them in the MVP definition.

As a rule of thumb we use four questions to check if our MVP is good enough as an initial offering:

  • Can we validate our hypothesis?
  • Can we charge our customers?
  • Is our Business DNA reflected to excite our customers?
  • Does your mother (or friends) like it? 😉