MVP vs Beta

As startups become viral, we see MVP and Beta versions everywhere. However, a lot of founders misuse these terms. Some even use them as synonyms. In this article, we will explain what MVP and Beta are and also the differences between them. Let's start with MVP:

Minimum Viable Product

Minimum Viable Product, (MVP) is often misused by a lot of people. To be clear, MVP is not a prototype, not a beta version, but rather an experiment designed to test your value proposition’s assumptions by measuring behavior and learning from the results. For example, this video of Dropbox is their MVP. It is a banal video that lasts 3 minutes. But it is a video that was made for early adopters of Dropbox. It is clear what it does, its features, and its benefits for the early adopters. At the time there was no service like Dropbox so founders wanted to test if there is an audience that faces the same problem so they, hopefully, sell it to them. After this video, there was a crowd waiting for Dropbox to launch so the video worked well for founders to understand if there is a demand for their product. The experiment was successful. Another great example is Zappos' MVP from 1999. Their MVP was a simple landing page where you can understand that Zappos is an online shoe store and their unique selling point is being the world's largest shoe store. With this landing page, they experiment to validate their idea. They posted their landing page on websites that are relevant to online shopping and bought some ads. After all, they validated the idea: There was an audience that wants to buy shoes online!

MVP PresentationFrom Drew Houston's presentation on their MVP.

Key takeaway:

Beta

On the other hand, the beta version is launched after the idea is validated and an amount of contact is collected. Beta is no longer an experiment, it is a product with fewer features. You can launch beta after collecting emails of potential customers with your MVP version. What you should focus on beta are feedbacks and feature requests you receive from beta users. To use the power of word-of-mouth, you should treat your beta users as royalty. You should contact them often and ask them about their experience.

An example of the beta process:

After completing a cycle of this process you should go back and start the next cycle until you are sure about your beta and ready to launch the full version.

Differences

Nature of the product

In MVP you are possibly not building even a version of the product, but in beta, you are coming out with a product version based on your learning/ insights until then.

Goals

In MVP your goal is to validate your idea and to decide whether to develop the product or not. In the beta version, your goal is to collect feedback and add features.

Target group

In MVP your target group is early adopters who, have a pain point that you can solve. In the beta version, your target group is beta testers, who can find bugs and next features

Minimalism

A lot of entrepreneurs wait until they develop the best to launch their MVP. However, this approach is against the nature of the MVP. Your MVP should only validate the idea, whereas your beta version should have features that can keep your potential customers in your product long enough to find bugs and give feedback.

MVP vs Beta Pyramid

TL; DR,

MVP and beta are two different things. They cannot be used as synonyms. MVP is an experiment to validate an idea, whereas the beta version is to collect feedback before launch. Knowing the difference and using them appropriately will help you communicate the product roadmap better with team members and early users.


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