What Is a Minimum Viable Product?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A minimum viable product is the most basic version of a product users can test. Learn the benefits of developing a minimum viable product and how to define your own MVP.

[Featured image] Two product designers discuss the minimum viable product (MVP) at a table in an office.

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of your product that may not be fully complete, but it is functional enough for users to test and provide feedback. Its purpose is to determine if there is a market for your idea and if it effectively solves a problem for your customers. An MVP serves as a crucial starting point for Agile projects, which emphasize continuous feedback and iterative improvement by adding new features and refining existing ones to an existing product. 

Developing an MVP helps you bring something to market faster, reach out to early adopters for feedback, and design your product around the needs of the target market. This can in turn help eliminate waste by leaning into ideas that resonate with early users and abandoning ideas that won’t work. 

One example of a minimum viable product is the origin story of the retail giant Amazon, which Jeff Bezos founded in 1994 out of his rented garage. Bezos created a beta version of the website which sold only books and asked 300 friends and colleagues to test the site. After receiving positive feedback, he launched the site in 46 countries with zero spend on marketing. Over time, he used the profit that he earned to expand his operations to sell multiple products and services, growing into a multi-billion dollar company. 

How to define your minimum viable product 

1. Research your customer. Create personas for your target audience. This will help you focus down to what problems one person might have to gain insight into potential solutions.

2. Think about how your product solves their problems. Using your customer personas, think about their specific pain points and determine how your product can meet their needs. 

3. Make a needs list and a wish list. In the process of determining the most basic solution, you may have ideas for extra features. Take note of them, but remember to only include the features customers need in the MVP. 

4. Map task flow. Create a visual list of steps the customer will need to take in order to use your product. This helps you ensure that you don’t leave any task out and every required piece is accounted for. 

5. Release and gather feedback. Release your product to early adopters. This is not the same thing as launching your product. This is an experiment to see how people react to your MVP. 

6. Repeat. In an Agile framework, you repeat the cycle by improving on your MVP based on user feedback and continuing through the steps. 

Related terms

Build your next MVP with Google

Learn more about MVPs and the Agile project management framework from industry experts at Google with the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate on Coursera. Build job-ready skills like strategic thinking, change management, project management, stakeholder management, task estimation, and more, all at your own pace. 

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