Minimum viable product (MVP) is a concept for making a product that fills the perceived needs of a customer or solves a problem adequately enough to expect a sustainable business around it. An MVP attempts to strike the right balance in a product so that it meets expectations without expending effort on things customers don't care about.
The process for building an MVP is centered around understanding the customers and their needs. From that understanding, the company has to ensure it has the processes in place to build the product to the consumer’s perception of quality. This perception includes factors such as features, ergonomics, design, aesthetics and reliability. Once the customer and market are thought to be understood, an MVP can be developed and released as part of the build measure and learn (BML) process. Finally, validated learning from metrics and feedback can be used to improve on designs, ensuring effort is not wasted.
The purpose of an MVP is striking a balance between a release early release often approach and, on the other hand, putting too much effort into one product to maximize its chances. MVPs can be a more rational approach in situations where time to market is not critical and customer data and interaction are available.
MVP, BML and validated learning are all concepts used in “The Lean Startup” method as created by the entrepreneur and co-founder of IMVU, Eric Ries. The lean startup approach endeavors to create a process similar to scientific methods to regiment success in startup companies.