Four ways to build a better, faster MVP

The co-founder of Shufflebrain and creator of MVP Design Hacks, Amy Jo Kim, offers her four favourite shortcuts to help startup founders and entrepreneurs create a “faster and better” minimum viable product.


1. Design high-learning, high-value MVP experiments


“Whether you’re building a game, app, or service, your odds of success increase dramatically if you test and refine your product and value prop with your target audience. Successful MVP experiments articulate a product hypotheses and key assumptions, and test the most important assumptions about product, value prop and customers early-on.”


2. Maximise productivity with MVP design sprints


“Numerous studies have shown that multi-tasking and interruptions decrease productivity. Sprints are a familiar productivity-enhancing agile/lean technique – and Google+ and Google Ventures have popularised their recipe for one-week design sprints, a useful technique if you have a swat team (internal or external) who can devote an entire week to a project. For my clients who need to validate, test and iterate a new product or game, a one-week sprint doesn’t cut it.


“Instead, we use a series of 8 MVP-specific design sprints for validating your product ideas with the RIGHT early adopters. Using these sprints enable you to:


  • Connect with your micro-vertical, enthusiastic early adopters who need your product, and have the means and free time to help out.
  • Create a product narrative and core habit-building loop using Job Stories.
  • Test and refine your value proposition and prototype vetted early customers.
  • Validate and update your original assumptions, and decide what to build next.


“Focus is a beautiful thing – especially for startups doing innovative work.”


3. Cultivate knowledge of your customers’ daily habits


“If you’re a fan of Tiny Habits or Hooked, you know that it’s MUCH easier to piggyback on an existing habit than create a new one. If you study the daily habits of your target players, you can design your experience to extend and enhance those habits – which greatly increases your chances of success.”


4. Cultivate a customer feedback loop

“As a product creator, one of the most powerful resources you can develop is a network of pre-qualified early customers who can give you early feedback on new features and systems. Recruiting and vetting people takes time and effort upfront – so once you’ve identified them, it’s smart to keep that relationship alive and reap the benefits of play-testing with known players throughout your MVP process and beyond.


“There are many ways to create a MicroVertical community (AKA player advisory group): you can setup a private mailing list, forum, Facebook group, G+ Community, or whatever communication platform works for you. The key is to have a space where you can communicate with your early adopters, and they can communicate with EACH OTHER too. The connections built within your MicroVertical will help those people stick around and stay involved in – and contributing to – your project. “


If you’re after more tips from Amy Jo Kim, you can find her five “speed bumps” that can easily slow down or derail an MVP project here.


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