Product Management Dictionary

The Product Management Dictionary: minimum viable product

Learn about minimum viable product (MVP) in product management with our comprehensive dictionary.

If you're a product manager working in any fast-paced industry, it's highly likely that you have heard the term "minimum viable product" or "MVP." This term has become ubiquitous in the world of product development and is now considered a critical component of a successful product launch. However, for those who are new to the concept, it can be difficult to understand what an MVP is and how it can benefit a product team. In this article, we'll provide an overview of the minimum viable product and discuss its importance in product development.

Understanding the Concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The concept of minimum viable product (MVP) is a product development process that emphasizes the creation of a basic version of a product that has just enough features to satisfy early adopters. This version of the product is designed to be quickly developed and launched with the sole purpose of validating the product's concept and potential value proposition with the target audience. Put simply, an MVP is the most basic version of a product that can still be launched successfully.

Defining Minimum Viable Product

Before we dive into the importance of MVP in product development, let's define the term more specifically. An MVP is a product development strategy where the company creates the most basic version of the product that can be launched without sacrificing the core value proposition. An MVP usually has one or two features that the company can use to attract a target audience. By creating a basic product that can be launched quickly, companies can minimize the amount of time and money spent on product development and improve their chances of establishing a clear product-market fit.

However, it is important to note that an MVP is not just about creating a bare-bones product. Instead, it is about creating a product that is both functional and valuable to early adopters. This means that the product should have enough features to provide value to the target market, but not so many features that it becomes bloated and difficult to use.

The Importance of MVP in Product Development

One of the main benefits of an MVP is that it can help product teams save time and resources by validating key assumptions about a product's viability in the market. By creating and launching an MVP, product teams can get feedback from early adopters and use that feedback to refine their product development strategy. This insight can be used to reduce waste and avoid investing resources into developing features that may not be relevant or valuable to the target market.

Moreover, an MVP can help companies identify areas where they need to improve their product before launching the final version. This can help to reduce the risk of launching a product that fails to meet the needs of the target audience.

The ability to get feedback early in the development process is critical to any product manager's success. By gaining early market feedback, companies can identify any potential product-market fit issues and quickly pivot their product development strategy to ensure the final product meets the needs of the target audience.

Key Components of an MVP

There are several key components that every MVP should have:

  • Minimum: The MVP should include only essential features that are needed to provide the core value proposition to the early adopters.
  • Viable: The MVP should be a viable product that can be easily used by early adopters with minimum disruption and glitches.
  • Product: The MVP must have a clear value proposition that solves a particular problem.

Additionally, it is important to note that an MVP should be designed with scalability in mind. While the initial version of the product may only have a few features, it should be designed in such a way that additional features can be easily added in the future without disrupting the user experience.

In conclusion, the concept of minimum viable product is an essential part of product development. By creating a basic version of a product that can be quickly launched and validated with early adopters, companies can save time and resources while improving their chances of establishing a clear product-market fit. With the right approach, an MVP can help companies to launch successful products that meet the needs of their target audience.

The Origins of the Minimum Viable Product

The idea of MVP was first introduced by Eric Ries in his book "The Lean Startup Methodology." It's a methodology that emphasizes the importance of customer feedback and rapid iteration in product development. Since then, the MVP concept has become increasingly popular among startups and established product companies alike, leading to several successful MVP-driven product launches.

The Lean Startup Methodology

The Lean Startup Methodology emphasizes the importance of creating an MVP to test a product's validity and viability in the market. The methodology suggests that companies should start with an MVP and gradually iterate based on customer feedback and market demand. This approach enables companies to save time and money in the initial stages of product development and ensures that the final product meets the needs of the target market.

One of the key benefits of the Lean Startup Methodology is that it helps companies avoid the pitfalls of traditional product development, where companies spend years developing a product only to find out that it doesn't meet the needs of the market. By starting with an MVP, companies can quickly test their product in the market and make adjustments based on customer feedback, ensuring that the final product meets the needs of the target market.

Early Adopters and MVPs

Many companies use MVPs to target early adopters - these are the customers who are most likely to embrace a new product or concept. By targeting early adopters, companies can get feedback from the most important audience, and fine-tune their products and services before launching them more widely.

Early adopters are critical to the success of a new product or service because they are often the ones who will provide the initial feedback that helps a company refine its offering. By targeting early adopters with an MVP, companies can get valuable feedback that helps them refine their product and make it more appealing to a wider audience.

Evolution of the MVP Concept

The MVP concept has been rapidly evolving and is now synonymous with the concept of continuous iteration. In recent years, the MVP has evolved to include more complex features, and many companies now release "beta" versions of their products, which include additional functionality, beyond the core requirements.

The concept of continuous iteration is critical to the success of any product or service. By continuously iterating on a product, companies can ensure that it remains relevant to the needs of its target market. This approach also enables companies to stay ahead of the competition, as they are constantly improving their product based on customer feedback and market demand.

In conclusion, the MVP concept is a critical component of the Lean Startup Methodology, and has become increasingly popular among startups and established product companies alike. By starting with an MVP, companies can test their product in the market, get valuable feedback from early adopters, and continuously iterate based on customer feedback and market demand. This approach enables companies to save time and money in the initial stages of product development and ensures that the final product meets the needs of the target market.

Steps to Create a Minimum Viable Product

Creating an MVP is a process that requires several significant steps:

Identifying the Core Problem

The first step in creating an MVP is to identify the core problem that the product intends to solve. This involves conducting market research and analyzing customer behavior to identify the pain point the core audience is experiencing. Once you understand the problem, you can define the product features, which solve the problem.

Defining the Target Audience

The target audience of an MVP is crucial to its success. You need to understand the target audience's pain points, motivations, and behavior to tailor the MVP features and benefits to their needs. This will ensure a higher chance of product success and better consumer adoption rates.

Prioritizing Features and Functionality

The MVP must be pared down to the minimum set of features and functionality that can help the target audience achieve their goals and solve their pain points. This requires a ruthless prioritization approach whereby non-essential features or functionalities are pushed to later iterations of product development.

Building and Testing the MVP

The MVP's development involves selecting technology and development frameworks that help deliver this basic version of the product. Once the product framework is identified, it needs to be fully calibrated and tested before being launched. This allows the product team to gather feedback, assess user adoption, and refine the product further.

Gathering Feedback and Iterating

Once launched and operations, user feedback then fuels the iterative process of MVP development whereby new features and functionalities are incrementally added to the product. Continual assessment of user adoption and feedback continue to shape the direction of future iterations.

Real-World Examples of Successful MVPs

The following are some real-world examples of successful minimum viable products:


Dropbox is a cloud-based file-sharing service that started with an MVP. The initial Dropbox functionality consisted of a simple way to sync files between devices. Dropbox gained traction among early adopters, eventually scaling the initial MVP to the more complex product offering we know today.


Airbnb began as an MVP where the founders set up air mattresses in their apartment and rented them out. The success of the MVP enabled the founders to reach investors who saw the potential of the product and drove the platform's subsequent development.


Uber started with an MVP called UberCab, designed to solve the problem of taxi business inefficiencies. The initial UberCab application allowed users to request a cab via their smartphone, enabling the user to track the cab's arrival and location. This simple innovation led to Uber's explosive growth globally, with subsequent development including food delivery, partnering with public transport, and much more.


Spotify revolutionized the music industry with its MVP, a simple music streaming app that allowed users to listen to and share music. With a primary focus on user experience and compiling playlists, Spotify's MVP's subsequent development has led to a diverse product offering that dominates the music streaming industry.


An MVP is an essential concept for any product manager in today's fast-paced product development industry. It emphasizes the importance of developing a robust product-market fit by launching a basic version of a product to attract early adopters, gain feedback, and refine the product for future iterations. By following the necessary steps and leveraging real-world examples, product managers can launch successful MVPs that drive product development and innovation.