Minimum Viable Product VS Minimum Valuable Product

Early stage founders often find it hard to choose the right MVP. At Interaction Labs we break down differences between minimum viable vs valuable products.

Back in 2001, Frank Robinson was the visionary who first coined and defined the term Minimum Viable Product. It was later popularized by Steve Bank and Eric Reis. At that time there was a tradition of “Stealth mode” development where startups build for a couple of years and only release when they feel they have a winning product in the market.

Steve Bank in his theory of Lean Startup emphasized on MVP as one of the 5 core principles. He claimed that the approach to bring a minimum viable product in front of the users and getting early users feedback will bring enormous value in terms of savings of time & resources.

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This over the last two decades for a large majority of companies proved immensely valuable. Teams shipped products faster, validated them with their ideal users, recorded valuable feedback, pivoted and achieved success.

However in the post-covid era there is a significant change in the way products are accepted and rejected in the market. So much so that a recent report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and a blog by Exploding topics suggests 90% of all startups are failing.

If you dig deeper it suggests that 10% startups fail within the first year and another 70% startups fail within 3 years. This statistics is alarming and warrants a discussion on what are the root causes for this failure.

With the advent of App revolution and 4G/5G services there is an overflow of varied startups which operate in the SAAS model. There is an outburst of sorts in every area with the likes of CRM, B2B, productivity tech, mar-tech, health-tech and others. Every technology service company creates products and every product company creates more products. This has resulted in more similar products with very less or no differentiator. There is very limited loyalty and advocacy among users resulting in high churn & negligible adoption.

This brings us to our topic which is if you are an early stage founder should you go for Minimum Viable Product or Minimum Valuable Product.

Let’s define both of them first.

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Minimum Valuable Product (MVP)

Whereas Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) shifts the focus from just delivering core features to providing real value to users. It emphasizes on creating a product that not only meets the basic requirements for viability but also addresses user needs effectively, ensuring that the product delivers tangible value to users, the project, and the business.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The MVP concept emphasizes on creating a product with the minimum set of features required to attract early adopters and validate the product idea. It aims to test assumptions, gather feedback, and iterate based on user responses.

Most of the time founders are too close to their product, they are hard-core romantics who suffer from product obsession. Either they are perfectionists who wait for the best product development process or they are opportunists who build a me-too product. They are almost oblivious to the fact that the market doesn’t care 2 bits on their near perfect state of the art CRM software.

So what can a founder or a startup team do to ensure that they add relevant value in their Minimum Viable Product.
Good news, it starts with the user :

  1. Knowing your Ideal Customer starts by stepping into their shoes.
  2. What are they using provided your product does not exist?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how difficult it will be to shift their current usage behavior?
  4. Does if offer Delta 4 experience to the user?
  5. Will they recommend your product as if it’s their own discovery/hack?
  6. Will they pay a premium for this experience?

Now comes the next critical part which is Your Story. A documentation of solving a pain should be brought out and magnified in your messaging. Your early audience should be emphatic towards your problem and your reason to believe should triumph any naysayers.

Famous product companies like Duolingo or platforms like Webflow started from real founder experiences or pain points. While the founder of Webflow found personal anguish in the fact that the designers designed the websites and the developers code hence breaking the beauty of design and losing value in transition. On the other hand, the founder of Duolingo wanted people to learn new languages easily & in an inexpensive way.

Founder of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn after selling his company to Google was a consulting professor to Carnegie Mellon University where he met his postgraduate student Severin Hacker. They both came from immigrant families and found it extremely challenging to learn English. It troubled them to the core as learning English was quite expensive. They made it their mission to work on an idea which later materialized into what we now know as Duolingo.

Their initial idea was to hire translators to translate wikipedia articles to their audience but it wasn’t successful so they pivoted to a more gamified version of teaching. Their algorithms guided and helped users personalize learning at their own pace. The first set of product MVPs or beta was launched in 2011 to a select audience group. Later they launched in 2012 to a waiting audience of 300,000 people.

Duolingo now has 500 million registered users and it offers courses in 100+ languages. The app has an addictive nature amongst its users with impeccable user experience they have managed to create a market capitalization of over 5 billion.

These examples reiterate that any startup who wishes to create a product should champion Market, Message and Model at great length. We came across an invaluable framework from Sequoia Capital which simplifies product market fit phenomenon.


This brings us to the conclusion where we strongly suggest creating Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) where the Value is directly proportional to the amount of pain you solve for your user. Our favorite B2B Marketing Agency has elaborated and written more on how startups create brand love among its users. It’s a must read for early stage founders who look at increasing adoption and advocacy of their products.


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