Adopting a Minimum Viable Products approach for Social Enterprise

Iterative development and minimum viable products help non-profits succeed

What is an MVP?

An MVP is a product designed to prove or disprove one's assumptions about a problem. As actions speak louder than words, an MVP is used by early adopters, which gives a founder crucial feedback on how users interact with their product. “Minimum” means not many resources go into building the MVP. At the same time, the MVP must be “viable” enough to accurately prove or disprove one’s assumptions. Your goal here is to validate or invalidate your hypotheses on problem-solution fit. During this phase you’re building the barest version of a product or feature that solves a problem well-enough for the customer to understand the value the solution provides. There is usually a lot of human assistance in this version of the product (either in the form of manual processes in the back end, or person-to-person helping the customer experience the solution)

Common Mistakes Founders Make

  • Waiting too long to put your MVP in the hands of customers
  • Not having proper methods to receive actionable feedback/data from testing the MVP
  • Focusing on building something minimal, but not viable
  • Spending thousands of dollars on building an MVP, only to find that there was never a problem to solve in the first place.

Fictitious Example

MVP can be as simple as creating an appearance of a working app using landing pages  and doing everything manually on the back-end, or offering a service that, all the way to building custom-apps.

The first version of Expedia or Agoda could’ve been a 1 page website that claims to be your online travel agent saving you hours of time in finding flights or hotels (note, no booking or deals yet, just saving time). The website could collect the customer’s preferred travel dates/times/destination using a form, and you do the search on the backend and email the customer the potential flights and hotel. You can get feedback on time saved, response time for email etc. - helping you understand what they value the most.

Another would be to offer a service as a product: universal scheduler/calendaring for local businesses - in a particular street, post online/offline in next door/neighborhood coffeeshop bulletin boards about your website/app and make reservations in the back-end individually


Real World Example

Dropbox used a simple explainer video as their MVP. Read all about how they went through with their MVP here.

No-Code ​Tools to Build an MVP

It's becoming easier than ever to rapid prototype and test with your user group. The following tools are used at Impact Gym to co-design products and deliver services to municipalities across the world.

Thunkable - Create Your Own Native Apps With No-Code

Bubble - A no-code platform, empowering entrepreneurs to build production-ready web apps.

Google Glide App - Build a powerful, data-driven app or website, without writing a line of code.

Parabola - A tool that can automate any manual task you usually do in a spreadsheet. Connect your data, arrange your steps, and forget about hiring that developer.

Zapier - A tool that moves info between your web apps automatically, so you can focus on your most important work.

Related Keywords: Lean Startup, Eric Ries, Steve Blank, Agile Development, Minimum Viable Experience, Lean Methodologies, Feedback Loop

Related Links:

The Lean Startup Methodology    Eric Ries - Author of the Lean Startup

An MVP is Not a Cheaper Product  Steve Blank - Stanford Professor and Best Selling Author

The Ultimate Guide To MVP's Vladimir Blagojevic - Founder of

How to Design an MVP Alex Cowan - University Lecturer and Startup Advisor

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