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Why Most Spend Way Too Much on Their MVP, and 3 Steps to Avoid it

August 15, 2020

Focus on one user, be loved by all.


At New Lion, we often get a few looks in our initial client meetings when we tell them the following:


“We challenge you to spend as little money as possible.”


This isn’t the type of thing they’re used to hearing. In fact, when we learn what other agencies have quoted them prior to us, our eyes twitch a little.


To clarify, this isn’t because other agencies are more necessarily more expensive. It is simply because the “MVP” that’d been estimated, wasn’t an MVP at all. When a feature list hasn’t been boiled down to reflect the core essence of a product, the numbers are bound to be sky-high.


We offer this challenge to our clients not only to be efficient but to begin to uncover the true value and identity of a product. Limiting your resources can force you to find out what really matters. This question is at the core of creating the right MVP (or as we’ll call it, the Minimum Loveable Product, MLP).


With the popularity of the “Lean Startup”, the avoidance of adding more than you need seems to be a widely approved ideal in the tech world. We know now that spending excessive time and money is definitely not the goal. But there still seems to be something missing in the mix, as too much money continues to be spent on MLPs.


We’ve discussed the common issue of an over-simplified MVP failing to spark a connection or offer a strong value proposition to users. The intent is for the MVP to represent a core feature set that will speak to the barebones of the product–then that’s where the MLP comes in. The MLP offers the special sauce essential to garnering a loyal following. While these two concepts are different, they aren’t opposites; they are both vital and must compliment each other in order for a product to succeed. Fundamentally, there are a few big questions being implored at the start.


  1. What core need are we meeting? (this would inform your MVP).
  2. Why will they love us? (now, we’ve got an MLP).


Alas, there is a third query.


  1. Who do we want to love us first?


In our experience, the absence of this last question in the early stages of development is a leading cause for spending too much on an MLP,  or worse, for an idea failing to make it to the marketplace.


You need to decide who you want to love you first.


For example, let’s say we were building a Real Estate app. The goal is to get homeowners, realtors, and buyers to use it. This is a feasible idea, and would be a very useful tool to many. However, let’s consider the types of features that each type of user that we hope to ultimately engage, would want to interact with. A homeowner, hoping to list their house for sale, will have a completely different set of needs than someone looking to shop for one. A professional realtor will undoubtedly have an equally dissimilar set of needs. Which user group needs to love the app first, in order for the rest to follow? If we try to build something to serve all three types of users, what is the likelihood that any of them will engage, or much less, love the product? If no one wants to post a home for sale, who will come to shop for them? You get the idea.


Failure to set your sights on one unique user group can be detrimental. While it may feel limiting to a degree, trust us, it isn’t. We want your product to be loveable, but efforts to cater to even two unique user groups as opposed to one, is enough to risk no one loving it.



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