Minimum Viable Product

Subscribers to the Lean Methodology would be familiar with the concept of a Minimum Viable Product.

While the concept is simple enough to grasp (you have a customer hypothesis and you build the minimum required to validate the hypothesis), it is not so easy to implement in practice.

The book, “Running Lean” authored by Ash Maurya is a good place to get started for some help and direction regarding this dilemma, but even so, it takes a bit of a “trail and error” approach, sticking to your gut feeling / trusting your instincts and experience to stay objective and focus on constructing hypotheses and validating them.

Once we had an idea about a strong market need, our first task was to validate if our proposed solution was the right approach to fix the problem. We had to optimize our utilization of the precious 15-20 minutes that we would get with a doctor (they are very busy people!) and communicate our idea to him clearly and correctly so that he would become interested enough to not only want to use it, but also pay for it, thus making the product “viable”.

We had a 100 different ideas about the various features we could build but the trick was to do this in “minimum” time.

As it turned out, all we needed was a simple app that we made in half a day which could showcase the rough User Interface we had in mind. It was hard to believe that this would be sufficient (in fact, we were embarrassed to show it), but it was enough to communicate the concept to the doctor, see that he was very interested, and get feedback on which of those 100 ideas mattered to him and which didnt!  To fill in the gaps we drew concepts from other apps they were familiar with, like Evernote and Gmail. Why, some doctors even agreed to pay just based on our first iteration of the app!

The most important thing we learnt from this experience is this – if you can empathize with your customer and their pain, they will have the confidence to trust you and invest their time in you, even if they are doctors!! Because they want to make your solution happen as much as you do.