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The Minimum Viable Testing Process for Evaluating Startup Ideas

Gagan Biyani
First Round Review
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Gagan Biyani, co-founder and CEO of Maven, shares why traditional MVPs can lead founders astray, outlines his 3-step framework for developing a Minimum Viable Test, and shares examples from his career.

The Case Against the Minimum Viable Product

  • Dreaming big and having multiple insights
  • Relying on customers to tell you what to build
    • People don't see themselves clearly and can be blind to what they actually want
    • You'll have more incremental improvements rather than a novel breakthrough
  • Valuing building over delivery
    • You're nothing until you have customers who want your product
  • Onboarding flow and overbuilt MVPs
    • Build the login systems and onboarding after you've proven you have something that can sell
  • MVPs often make for horrible core products
    • Focus on product/market fit in the pre-product/market fit phase and then move with conviction when you enter the building phase

Add MVTs to the Startup Process

  • Start with simple steps:
    • Immerse yourself in a new industry
    • Use customer development
    • Find the promise you think you can make to help a user
  • MVT framework
    • Identify the riskiest assumptions as to how your business can either fail or succeed
    • Test your assumption through MVTs and repeat until you de-risk your biggest hypotheses
    • Develop an initial product and test it
    • Nail product offering
    • Scale

What's a Minimum Value Test?

  • Identifying hypotheses about a market and devising tests that only focus on those specific hypotheses
  • Key to building a successful company without being technical

Three Step MVT Process

  • Determine the promise of your idea
    • Customer actions speak volumes
    • Find a value proposition that's a no-brainer
  • List the primary risks
    • Building something people don't want
    • Execution risk
    • Marketing/Marketing size
    • Profit
  • Determine whether your idea actually works
    • Test one risky assumption at a time
    • Test specific to that assumption
    • Focus on the hypothesis when devising a test
    • Find the smallest possible item you could distill your product down to

Using the MVT to Say "No"

  • Goal is to find your path to success. If you find a path, keep going, and if you can’t see the vision, that’s okay
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