Have you ever looked at the menu of a fancy restaurant and wondered what wine you would have with your lobster? I haven't, but I'm sure you'll understand what I want to point out.
Wine and the importance of obtaining reliable information
The point is: make sure you taste the wine before you buy the bottle because they are pretty expensive. Sounds obvious, right? Well, metaphorically speaking, when it comes to technology and software products, entrepreneurs often make the mistake of skipping that step.
Innovation is a process, and you must understand your assumptions and biases. In this case, try not to believe that you will like the wine just because the place is lovely. If the waiter offers you a glass to try it, it would be wise not to skip that step. You will be testing the product for free and before investing!
All of this is a simplified version of what it means to build an MVP. Generating a Minimum Viable Product is definitely more complex than having a glass of wine before buying the bottle because there are many more variables to consider.
A couple of steps further into this parallelism
Imagine for a moment that you're not alone in that fancy restaurant. Let's say you're with your date and it's the first time you are both going out together. What if your date tells you they don’t actually like any wine whatsoever, after the waiter opens up the bottle you've taken so long to choose from the list? You made another assumption: that your date likes wine. In this case, all you had to do is ask.
Ok, no big deal, you could drink the wine (alone) and ask your date to order something else from the menu. However, let's assume you have a tight budget, like most technology startups do. All your date wanted was a diet coke, but you've spent x10 on that silly wine without generating any value for your date.
In other words, that feature you've built is worthless, pointless, and painful, because that budget could have been designated to something your date truly wanted. Maybe that wine made you run out of money for dessert, and that´s what your date desired, some sugar and endorphins on their bloodstream. And to make things worse, you even prefer beer over wine!
Let's take this scenario yet a little bit further
You're with your lonely bottle of wine, chatting with your date as they zip down their diet coke. Imagine the waiter shows up at the table with a big smile on his face. By the way he stares at the two of you, you can tell he's aware that this is your first time going out together. The fact that you didn't know that your date doesn't like wine gave it away. Have you ever had that funny feeling of being deciphered? Or was it just the wine?
"Are you ready to take your order?"- the waiter asks cheerfully, his eyes locked on yours, as if he knew something was about to come up.
You extend your glass, pretending you know something about tannins, and give your date the "after you" look.
"Let's see... Do you have anything besides lobster? I'm allergic to lobster."
The waiter, making no effort in holding his laughter, shook his head.
Wouldn't that be uncomfortable? Your date doesn't like wine and can't eat lobster either. Why didn't you ask about their preferences before you went out? You had the information at your fingertips and chose to go with your assumptions. Now you have to leave the place, losing time and money, and what would you do with that bottle of wine? Take it with you? It might be too embarrassing. Now it might be too late to go dine somewhere else.
The point is, time to market is important. In some startups within a certain context, launching before a specific deadline is crucial, and not doing so would be either impossible, pointless, or too risky. Maybe its time for you to pivot.
A quick view of what is to Pivot
No, it's not changing your date! Continuing with this story, It would be more like walking out of that fancy restaurant and going on a plan B: the movies, a drive through burger place, whatevever you understand is most valued by them and will get the job done: getting to know eachother better. And don't get me wrong, a plan B isn't less than a plan A, it's totally the oppposite. Back to reality, a pivot is when entrepreneurs stick to their mission, simply with a change in their strategy. As we see it, if you change your mission, you're not pivoting, you're building a new business.
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face during their MVP process is interacting efficiently and effectively with their first dates, the so-called innovators and early adopters. The MVP approach helps you understand your users as quickly as possible to adapt your product fast to what brings the most value to the user. Sometimes all you need to do is ask, and sometimes it is a bit more tricky and you have to figure it out by yourself. Think of it like a birthday present for example: sometimes it's cool to ask what they want, sometimes asking will not give you the information you need (either because they don't want to give it to you, or they simply don't know).
Skipping steps does not necessarily mean you'll build your product faster. In fact, it will almost certainly delay it. Since innovation is the process of executing validations, as we said earlier, you should always understand your assumptions and eliminate any biases. When it comes to innovation, it's not about building fast, it's about learning fast to build smarter.
For more information on how to build an MVP, check out this article. If you have an idea that you want to make a reality, contact us if you want us to help you.