Shipping with a minimum viable product is crucial as a startup founder, because it lets you test your business model before making a huge investment in the full version of your product. But what about when you’re in a space that’s already crammed with more polished solutions? How can an MVP help you when you’re launching in a saturated market?
Even if there are lots of competitors doing something similar to your product, launching with an MVP helps you zero in on the core value proposition of your business. It forces you to define and emphasize what makes your company unique - and in a crowded market, setting yourself apart from the pack is what determines your success or failure.
Remember that the standout element of your business doesn’t have to be a unique functionality. It could be a distinctive combination of features that appeals to an underserved demographic. Or it could be an innovative marketing strategy that distinguishes you from your competitors.
Launching any startup in a space that’s already filled with competition is a daunting prospect. You’re getting ready to jump into a very big pond as a very small fish.
It can be easy to start thinking of your minimum viable product as just a less functional version of what’s already out there.
Besides, all that competition proves that a business like yours is viable. Why do you need to validate the same idea all over again?
But if you’re thinking that way, you’re missing the point of an MVP.
Every startup begins as an idea, and no matter how jammed with competitors your market is, there’s probably something unique about yours. You didn’t decide to become an entrepreneur just to build an exact replica of another company, did you?
Focus on the idea that got you fired up about starting your own business. Distill that idea down to its purest essence, and center your MVP on that.
Cut out everything extraneous. Deliver that core value proposition, and nothing more, to your customers.
Then improve on it based on their feedback.
Even the ones who love your MVP will probably ask for more features at some point. But they won’t be the exact same features you were tempted to tack on.