April 22, 2019

Is the MVP era over?

I saw this tweet fro Moe Amaya

Notion, Figma, Superhuman.

All companies that their customers unequivocally LOVE.

Common trend? They all spent at least 2 years grinding on the product and design experience before releasing betas.

MVP era is over.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts and reactions to this.

Of course context matters, and I'm not entirely sure of the story behind Notion, Figma and Superhuman. Of course for indie hackers it feels like a bit of a privilege that many of us don't have to spend 2 years grinding and investing in building a product.

  1. 15

    This is just an empty and overly dramatic statement. There are thousands of startups working on their products for 3+ years before even starting to offer something.

    There are thousands of companies that have/had an MVP.

    Also, did anyone say how long building an MVP should take?

    If we're building a spaceship maybe spending 2 years is super fast for an MVP.

    1. 1

      Yes, you are right. I think the this tweet is intentionally dramatic. Also as I understand both Notion and Superhuman developed their MVPs with actual users in the feedback loop.

      Rahul Vohra shared about Superhumans's product market fit engine here: https://businessofsoftware.org/2018/11/product-market-fit-engine-rahul-vohra-ceo-superhuman/

      It shows that they are spending a lot of time solving the meta problem of how to find product market fit.

      1. 2

        Exactly, and needless to say, when you have 90MM in VC funding like Figma, why would you hurry to launch an MVP?

  2. 5

    It’s just a completely wrong statement. These companies were developing their product with users during those years. The only difference is ‘launching’ your MVP as if it’s done.

    They still built a lot of MVPs, just kept it behind closed doors and iterated on pilot feedback. That’s a good way to go if you want to get the details so right like they did (also, they have less need to validate a new business model, all of these are existing markets but designing a far better product)

  3. 3

    I think startups should aim to have a Minimum Desirable Product (https://andrewchen.co/minimum-desirable-product/), or Minimum Lovable Product like what @blunicorn mentioned. Potential customers are people, not just data.

    Some excerpts:

    A minimum desirable product (MDP) would focus primarily on whether or not you are providing an insanely great product experience and creating value for the end user.

    Let’s define it as such:

    Minimum Desirable Product is the simplest experience necessary to prove out a high-value, satisfying product experience for users (independent of business viability)

    To build an MDP, you will have to actually deliver the core of a product experience so that your customers can make a full assessment, rather than simply providing a landing page.

    1. 2

      exactly, good excerpts, though the only caveat I would add is that the more traditional notion of 'MVP' works particularly well for product ideas that are either a.) really niche or b.) really novel - in which case the audience will be engaged/intrigued enough to be patient :)

      1. 1

        Oh yeah totally! When it's something very unique, it should be tested early and often.

  4. 3

    Perhaps Minimum Lovable Product really is better? I read this a few years back and do think there's something to it:

    https://medium.com/the-happy-startup-school/beyond-mvp-10-steps-to-make-your-product-minimum-loveable-51800164ae0c

    1. 2

      Have not read that link yet, but I read an article recently that really resonated with me - SLC - Simple Lovable Complete - A variation on MVP that really made a lot more sense to me.

  5. 3

    Unless "MVP" is clearly and unambiguously defined, this statement is both true and false.

    If you make a very rough prototype in a few hours, how hard will it be to market it compared to well-established products? Pretty hard, I guess.

    What if you make a tiny app that is only fit for very limited purpose, yet displays the potential of the future finished product? That one will surely be easier.

    Depends on what you call an MVP, and what kind of an MVP that is.

    In the 1st version of my app, Three.do, there was no customization at all, no settings, and a user could only build reminders from pieces available out of the box, or type in the text the old way. Pretty much what one would consider an MVP. Took 6 months to build, but I was rewarded with #3 PH product of the day, 6000 installs and 120 purchases in the first 2 weeks. I believe that’s because even with limited features, the potential of the product was obvious, and much effort was put into making it look polished like a finished product. And it all made people pay.

    I don’t think the era of MVP is over. The era of a low-effort MVP is.

  6. 1

    I still think MVPs have value. I wouldn’t use it as the point where you launch your product. But on the side project I am working on getting my product to an “internal MVP” milestone. It will hopefully make me feel like I actual have a side product and not a side project.

    From there I want to iterate on the product until I feel it has enough value to the target market to launch a beta. So in most cases I do subscribe to minimum valuable product over minimal viable product. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have purpose in your process.

  7. 1

    It sure feels like three examples is insufficient to declare a megatrend.

  8. 1

    Why is everyone trying to coin their own phrase on what they will call an MVP? Minimal viable product, minimal lovable product, minimum desirable product, Simple lovable complete... isn't it all just the same name for getting something people can really appreciate into their hands as early as possible, charging them for it to make sure you aren't making fluff and going from there? I don't see how Figma or any of those other companies who take several y ears to build can call for an overly dramatic statement such as "MVP era is over". What feature set must be present for Figma users in order to fall in love with it is much different than that of a simple tool that makes dealing with non-stop excel file nightmare a total breeze.

  9. 1

    Just completely not true.

    If anything is over it's the idea of 2 guys with nothing more than an idea raising 7 figures from VC's and crossing their fingers.

  10. 1

    Oversimplified, an MVP is minimal viable product. If you're competing against incumbents your MVP will either have to have a killer feature that is hard for them to copy or the MVP will take time to build. Only way to find out is talking to customers!

    I'm building a SaaS focused website/landing page builder and competing against companies who have raised $278m and another worth $6 billion on the NASDAQ.

    The only way I can beat them is having features it will be impossible for them to copy, as I don't have the benefit of being able to spend 2 years working on it before launching.

    If I'm successful I guess I proved him wrong :)