How not to build a minimum viable product

We just recently released the first version of our app 4AM on Testflight and I thought it was a good time to write about how to launch a minimum viable product. For those that are not familiar with Testflight; It's an apple tool that we use for internal or external beta testing. Testing makes it easy to invite users to test your iOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps before you release them on the App Store.

1. Define the ONE SENTENCE of your product.

You need to be able to explain your most important feature in one sentence.  Once you're able to clearly define what your product do in one sentence; this is what you should focus on building. Set your goals around that one sentence and your goals should be targeted toward turning that one sentence into an actual product.

Our one sentence with 4AM was:

 An app that list restaurant and bar in your city with late food or drinks. 

We came up with 5 goals to make this possible. Since our content are created by our users we needed to make sure that the users could create, edit, view and remove the events. So we came up with the following 5 goals.

  1. User should be able to create an event
  2. User should be able to edit an event or delete it
  3. User should be able to view a list of events
  4. User should be able to view individual event details
  5. User should be able to report fake events.

Each of these goals became our main features. We were tempted to add so many other features such as...

  • User should be able to login
  • User should be able to share events with their friends (Messages or Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin)
  • User should be able to change city
  • User should be able to Favorite events

Since these feature weren't focused on making our one sentence work. We put them on our backlog. Every time we were in doubt we would ask ourselves "Can our product works without this feature?". If the product could work without this feature we would just add the feature to our backlog. Each of these features are now reserved for V2, V3 or V4... Based on what we'll learn from our V1; we'll decide on what feature we should launch next.

You may have an idea of your perfect product but remember that this is never about you but your customers. Very often your perfect product doesn't end up being what you picture it in the beginning. You have to learn along the way and this is what an MVP is there for; to allow you to test and prove your idea one step at the time.

2. Keep it as simple as possible.

Once you decide to build your product. You can be tempted to add additional features to it. Very often; you're convincing yourself that 'YOU HAVE TO LAUNCH WITH THESE FEATURES".  This is when goals comes handy. Your first launch is not to add value to your product or your one sentence. Your first launch should be focused on making your product work.

3. Don't aim for perfection. Do enough to get it going. 

Perfect is hard to attain and it's not a concrete goal. "Perfect" is where we want our product to be one day. This is the vision that keeps us going. "Goals" are what help us getting thing done. they are target that t we aim at hat slowly bring us to our perfect app. If you want to build an MVP, set up goals and version that will eventually leads to the perfect product. Remove any feature that won't help you validate your minimum viable product. A minimum viable should have enough needed feature to validate the concept. When we build MVP; we're aiming for specific goals that helps us build a 'working' app, not a 'perfect' app.

4. Launch it!

You have to set up a target date and launch. It's more important to launch an okay product and improve incrementally, then trying to build a perfect product that never launch. Make it work & Just Launch it.

Our 4AM app will be available in the app store soon. We'll share a link on this blog post and on the site when it becomes available.