How to choose the right MVP for your startup idea?

Use this framework to create early-stage startup MVPs

Zoe Chew
5 min readMay 17, 2023

This post is one of my 🔥Multi-Part Product Guide series. You may also like my top-rated guides such as — Validate Product Opportunity, Minimum Viable Market, and Profitable SaaS Ideas. ✍️Join my free newsletter to receive these insights!

Many builders make the mistake of using the wrong MVP types for the wrong purposes, resulting in skewed validation feedback. In this post, I’ll explain the various types of MVPs, when to use them, and how to choose the right MVP type for your new idea, so you can improve the accuracy of your MVP:

startup mvps

Stage #1: Problem Validation

Before you start building your startup idea, it’s crucial to know where you stand in your idea validation journey.

If you’re at the pre-MVP stage, your main focus is on understanding whether the problem you’re trying to solve even exists.

To do this, you’ll need to use an MVP that can help you validate the riskiest assumption you have about the market problem and customer pain points.

🧪 MVP to use: Minimum Viable Test

In this case, a minimum viable test would be the best approach. This involves setting up a prototype experiment to test your hypothesis before investing in the development of an actual product.

This type of pre-product MVP is low-fidelity and doesn’t require a fully-functional product.

You can gather feedback on who is experiencing the pain points and whether they care about the problem you’re attempting to solve through interacting with your potential customers.

🎪 How to set up the MVP experiment?

Let’s say you’re building a marketplace for used furniture but you’re not sure if people are interested in buying secondhand furniture in your local community.

You can create an experiment by hosting a bazaar event to validate customer interest and understand the supply and demand dynamics in the local community

This experiment can be done quickly and inexpensively, and it allows you to gather feedback on the potential market and customer’s willingness to pay.

Once you have the results, you can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the MVP website development or pivot to another idea that may be more viable based on the feedback.

Stage #2: Solution Validation

Once you’ve validated your problem hypothesis, i.e., customers have the problem, it’s time to test your solution with early adopters.

At this point, your goal is to figure out the most desirable, feasible, and viable solution to fix the customer’s problem.

So, how do you make sure that you’re offering a solution that truly meets their needs?

🧰 MVP to use: Concierge/Piecemeal MVP

A concierge MVP involves manually delivering the product or service to the customer as if it were fully automated. Whereas piecemeal MVP involves offering a subset of your product or service to the customer, while handling a portion of the value delivery process manually such as customer support, shipping etc.

Compared to minimum viable tests, these types of MVPs are more functional and have higher usability.

This MVP technique enables you to test whether people resonate with the value proposition and find the solution you’re creating useful or not.

🛍️ How to set up the MVP experiment?

Let’s say you’re building a shopping app but you’re not sure whether people will prefer a solution that helps them personalize their styles or find the trendiest items.

To set up the concierge or piecemeal MVP experiment, you can combine different off-the-shelf solutions such as no-code/low-code tools, APIs, or automation tools.

For example, you can create a manual process for personalizing styles through “free professional stylist consultation” for early adopters, or offer a limited selection of trendiest items on an MVP website and track the user engagement.

The key is to offer enough value to early adopters while minimizing your startup validation costs, so that you can validate your solution with minimal investment.

Stage #3: Feature Validation

So now you have validated that a problem you’re trying to solve is valid, and customers think your solution makes sense.

The next step is to identify and prioritize the key features of your solution that are most valuable to your customers. This is where the core features MVP comes in.

🎯 MVP to use: Core features MVP

Core features MVP is a step up from concierge and piecemeal MVPs, and involves creating a more functional and workable product to validate with a larger audience.

Your goal is to build a minimum viable product that has all the essential features and functionalities that your target customers need, without adding any unnecessary features.

It’s important to keep in mind that the core features MVP is still a minimum viable product, and you should focus on gaining early traction with paid subscribers, customers, users, or members.

🚀 How to set up the MVP experiment?

Let’s say you’re building an AI app that allows people to monetize data without coding, i.e. a no-code web scraper app.

One way to create your core features MVP is to build a Chrome extension that allows users to scrape data from various website sources and extract it into a user-friendly format.

As you validate that people are using these tools and finding the product useful, you can move on to testing other features, such as integrating your tools with popular software like Notion, Airtable, and Google Sheets, as well as data visualization tools.

This will help you understand whether these features are valuable to your target audience and prioritize which features to add next.

Update 2024: The Ultimate Idea Validation Framework

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Zoe Chew

Founder Making sense of product building, market validation & customer problems at Alum @ On Deck ODF10