Minimal Viable Product could also be considered as customer discovery – the process of translating a founder’s vision for the enterprise into a prototype of the business model and creating a set of
experiments to test the prototype. To do this, founders leave guesswork behind and get out of the
building to test customer reaction to the product or service, gain insights from their feedback, and
adjust the business model. This is critical.
Only by engaging with and listening to your customers can you learn in depth about their problems,
produce features to solve those problems, and learn what drives customers to recommend, approve, and purchase products.
Establishing the MVP is not about collecting feature lists from prospective customers or running lots
of focus groups. This step tests that a MVP elegantly solves the problem or fills the need well
enough to persuade lots of customers to buy.
You might also get some key assumptions wrong:
- Who your customers are
- What problems they need to solve
- What features would solve them
- How much customers would pay to solve them, etc.
Customer validation proves that the business tested and iterated in customer discovery has a
repeatable, scalable business model that can deliver the volume of customers required to build a
profitable company. During validation, you test your ability to scale (i.e., product, customer
acquisition, pricing, and proof of channel) against a larger number of customers with another round
of tests, that are larger in scale and more rigorous and quantitative.
In web/mobile apps, customer validation calls for the deployment of a “hi-fidelity” version of the
MVP to test key features in front of customers. Customer validation proves the existence of a set of
customers, confirms that customers will accept the MVP, and validates serious, measurable
purchase intent among customers.