MVP Types
Date: 17th October 2018
Posted by:

MVP’s are hugely misunderstood and therefore a great wasted opportunity. The key is that they are built to validate learning by doing as little as possible, not to create a saleable or marketable product.

Eric Ries, the author of the Lean Startup described the MVP as: “a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learnings about customers with the least effort.”.

Here is a list of some common MVP types. did I miss any? Which do you use?


Explainer VideoMake a simple video explaining the concept. Capture interest, build early engagement to help with problem - solution fit. Example: Dropbox
Problem InterviewsValidate the problem and ranking, identify existing existing alternatives, understand customer segments. Understand what a customer is doing to address a current problem and why their current awkward solution is disappointing. 
Landing PageLanding page to measure interest to various topics. Can be used with adwords & register interest. Can be used under separate brand to test a concept or to build up collect interested users to help guide product development.
Wizard of OzGreat, powerful and glossy on the outside but run by a man and a dog behind the scenes. Not scalable but helps to validate interest in products, the existence of problems and the resonance of solutions.
Mechanical TurkGiving the impression of an automated service but using manual effort behind the scenes. This is now available as a service from Amazon.
CrowdfundedPost ideas on to crowdfunding websites. Interest from investors / customers will help show that people want your solution. Low investment and minimal build required before funding and validation can start.
ConciergeProvide a highly customised service for a small group of customers. Bespoke service provides direct feedback and great learning of real customer.   
PiecemealUse existing tools / elements to cobble together a solution to validate if people have a problem to be solved. 
Single FeatureBuild feature by feature. Validate the core proposition resonates with users and build up advocates and evangelists.
The Impersonator / BoomerangProvide a front door for an existing product / service if a similar offering already exists. Zappos is the textbook example here where they built a basic website but sold products from a existing shoe companies. There was no business, no stock, no staff.
Imposter JudoIs where customers are persuaded to register with or use competitors products with the purpose of gathering insights on the experience and product.
Analogue / PhysicalUseful if selling a data-based product. Early versions can rely on manually calculated data which is automated only when the business case is validated by paying customers.
Dry Wallet Allow the customers to attempt to purchase a given product but when they enter the committed stage of the journey they can be informed that a product is out of stock. The data will demonstrate desire and if the contact details are collected then the early adopters will be identified too. 
High HurdleThis is where difficulties are placed in front of customers to test how much they really want or need the product. This could be a higher price than they indicated they might be willing to pay or an up-front registration or commitment. 
Sketched / WireframedPaper or digital prototypes with no real functionality, useful to test concepts, understanding, engagement, design.
PrototypesThrow away products that can be compiled using parts of a real product if it really / nearly exists. Useful on lots of levels when used appropriately. Also useful in a whole array of examples e.g. 3D Printed parts and products, cardboard models, the more realistic they can look the more valuable the feedback.
PinocchioFake mocked-up product e.g. wooden model / lifeless. Useful to prove a concept but user engagement will be less valuable than a higher fidelity mock-up if they can easily see that a product is not real.
Stripped TeaseFunctional but stripped down to most basic elements 
One night standTest initial level of interest in a product or service through a pop-up shop or a temporary site / kiosk / offering
ProvincialRun on limited geographies before building the whole scalable, internationalised product
Fake DoorCreate a fake option for a feature or product which doesn’t exist and measure interest / take-up.
Pretend-to-ownRent or borrow what you need before buying or building it to see if the business case is justified
Family TreeValidate that someone is solving your problem with a manual / less good solution before building it e.g. excel / gaffer tape 
Smoke TestTest the service / product ideas with no building work. Depending on results pivot or persevere.
SurveyVolume based to help identify problems and and customer segments with quant data.
Painkiller / VitaminValidate that the MVP addresses a real pain for users i.e. that it is something that they must have not just like.