Uncovering the "Right" Minimum Feature Set for Your Minimum Valuable Product (MVP)

How to combine JTBD interviews + Kano model to craft the right UVP for your MVP

Contrary to popular belief, an MVP (Minimum Valuable Product) is not a quick and dirty solution you throw over the fence at customers. It has to deliver value right out of the gate.

This is because customers today have many choices. And, when they see a half-baked product, they don’t turn into beta users. They leave.

Also, because startups are constrained by limited resources (speed, spend, and scope), the right MVP needs to maximize on your product’s unique value proposition while minimizing on features.

In a previous post, I outlined using the Kano model to assemble the right feature cocktail for your MVP. Read that first if you haven’t already.

Key Takeaways

  1. Build your UVP around a single delighter feature (Gamechanger)
  2. Ensure your delighter feature passes a minimum performance metric (Not a showstopper)
  3. Layer on at least one other axis of better (Strengthen Positioning)
  4. Innovate around basic features (Avoid distractions)

The most popular Kano analysis method is feature surveys. The problem with surveys is that they require you to know the right questions to ask, which isn’t typically the case at the earliest stages of a product when you don’t know what you don’t know.

In today’s issue, I’ll show you a better way.


Getting Your Product Hired for the Job

Imagine you’re applying for an actual job at a highly competitive company. Getting precise job requirements would help you prepare and position yourself, but most job descriptions are too vague and high-level.

What if you had the following additional insights:

  • Attributes shared by candidates previously hired for a similar position (Hiring criteria)
  • Attributes shared by candidates previously rejected for a similar position (Firing criteria)
  • Attributes the company wanted but couldn’t find across hired candidates (Tradeoffs)

Each of these criteria maps nicely to the Kano model:

  • Hiring criteria are performance features.
  • Firing criteria are must-have (basic) features.
  • Tradeoffs are delighter features.

You could use these insights to better position yourself for the job.

While this information isn’t easy to come by during actual job interviews, this is precisely what you can uncover before your product’s job interview (pitch) using carefully scripted customer (problem discovery) interviews.

1. Uncover hiring criteria, firing criteria, and tradeoffs

Before pitching your product, I recommend conducting 10-20 interviews with people who have recently used or purchased an existing alternative solution (old way) you’re looking to displace with your solution (your new way).

Your goal is to uncover

  • Why they picked the chosen existing alternative (Hiring criteria)
  • What else they considered and didn’t pick (Firing criteria)
  • What was still missing in the chosen existing alternative (Tradeoffs)

2. Rank hiring criteria, firing criteria, and tradeoffs

Use these insights to build and rank a feature matrix of delighters, performance, and showstopper features:

3. Define the UVP of your MVP

Apply the techniques in this post to assemble the right feature cocktail for your MVP.

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