A minimum viable product is “…that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort."1 i.e. a product or offering with the smallest amount of functionality that (dis)proves something about the viability of the product. The term gained popularity in 2009 thanks to Lean Startup1.
(Compare to an MMP: minimum marketable product, which is focused on earning revenue as opposed to learning something about the product viability.)
Note that the proper development of an MVP may lead the team to completely change a product, or even abandon it altogether (rather than working on something that nobody actually wants).
It's important to realise that an MVP is not a “minimal product” — if the goal is to scratch a personal itch (or build for a quick flip), an MVP adds unneccessary overhead, whether it be analytics, metrics, feedback channels and/or customer interviews. Remember, an MVP must prove or disprove the viability of the offering in some way.
The idea of minimum viable product is useful because you can basically say: our vision is to build a product that solves this core problem for customers and we think that for the people who are early adopters for this kind of solution, they will be the most forgiving. And they will fill in their minds the features that aren’t quite there if we give them the core, tent-pole features that point the direction of where we’re trying to go.
– Eric Ries, What is the minimum viable product?
Examples of “minimum viable product” include:
- setting up a landing page, driving traffic via Adwords or equivalent, and offer a link to buy what is described