Javid Jamae (@JavidJamae) is a Principal Engineer at Tout, where he heads up the experimentation and growth efforts; he leads a team focused on growing the viewership for both local and nationally syndicated content. Javid authored this great guest post on finding early adopters through customer interviews before building a minimum viable product (MVP) and it is published here with his permission.
An MVP is Finished Only After You Have Early Adopters
Any time someone tells me that they have finished their minimum viable product (MVP) and now they’re looking for their first early adopters, a huge alarm goes off. It always seems like they have skipped a few steps. An MVP should not be a guess; it should be a carefully crafted solution that is:
- Viable based on what you have already learned from your early adopters,
- Minimum in that it focuses only on solving the core problems that they face.
Interview To Make Sure The Customer Really Believes You Are Solving A Problem
Startups should have already had their early adopters lined up before they built anything. In fact, they should start by interviewing prospective customers. This allows them to verify that they have a good grip on what their customers’ problems are. It ensures that the problem that they are solving is something they actually have a problem with?
Talk About Your Solution After You Know There Is A Need
Then, after the team is fairly certain through interviews with 5-20 people that they understand the customer problems, they should interview potential customers on the proposed solution. They can show them screenshots, mockups, datasheets, or models to get feedback on how the solution might solve their problems.
Two Tests To Pass Before Building an MVP
Here are two tests to pass before building an MVP:
- Do you have people that can’t wait to have your product?
- Do you have 5-10 people who can’t wait to pay you for your product without it even being built?
Those are your early adopters. Now, go build that MVP.
Understand Problem, Prove Need For Solution, Then Build MVP
If a startup is methodical about verifying the problem from the customer’s perspective, and has conversations that allow them to identify likely early adopters, they can substantially reduce the risk of building something that nobody wants to pay for. If a startup has finished an MVP and is now looking for early adopters, I would suggest they take a few steps back and do some problem interviews before they take too many more steps towards building something that potentially nobody wants.