02. Initial MVP Requirements - Core Features

Estimated Time

  • Reading: ~10 minutes
  • Video: ~15 minutes
  • Activities: to be completed prior to next week


  • We previously touched on foundational knowledge and explored several tools that will be useful as you build your MVP
  • This section will double down on a few of the activities you've completed.
  • We will begin to pull it together as you identify the core features you'll include in your MVP
  • As we discussed, for your MVP to be successful it has to provide value to your customers or they simply won't use it
  • As a founder it is vital that you understand and can directly answer the following:
    • What is the major problem your idea, product, service solves?
    • Who is the ideal customer you are targeting?
    • Who else is solving this problem for them and how are you going to stand out?
    • What is your single value proposition and what are your core features?
  • Now there may be some slight deviations as you gather feedback from users,
    • But at the core, you will spend the rest of this course building an MVP to solve a specific problem for a specific user
  • Remember you are not going to build your entire MVP in one day and the first version will not be perfect
  • When thinking about an MVP Daniel Burka describes the best MVP as having Goldilocks quality:
  • “The ideal prototype should be of Goldilocks quality. If the quality is too low, people won’t believe the prototype is a real product. If the quality is too high, you’ll be working all night and you won’t finish. You need Goldilocks quality. Not too high, not too low, but just right.”
  • The MVP is meant to get your vision in front of users, gather feedback, and determine if your solution solves a big enough problem that people will pay to use it

Ideal Customer Profile

  • Refer back to the "Coming up with an idea for a startup" section when you identified your ideal customer for your idea
    • Where do these people live online? How will you get in front of them?
    • What are you going to do to attract your first 5 users? Your first 20 users?
      • Maybe you already have a small network of people who fit your ideal customer profile
      • Maybe some subreddits make sense for you to frequent and become an active member of
      • Maybe you join the Product Hunt community to learn and collect feedback
      • Maybe you share your experience via blogs, Twitter threads, or TikToks.
        • Starting your own conversations while building in public
    • Early on it is okay to do the unscalable activities that will get your first users
    • Find where your ideal customer is located and begin to interact with them
      • Offer value, insights, and ask for feedback on your new solution that will solve their problem
  • While building your MVP keep this ideal customer in mind
    • Too often founders get distracted by a new shiny idea
      • Stay laser-focused on your single value proposition and the user who needs your product
    • You can not lose sight of who your target audience is in the process
      • Gather feedback as early and often as possible
      • Be careful only collecting feedback from friends and family
        • Especially if they are not the target user
        • But even if they are - people often have a hard time giving constructive feedback to close friends
        • Expand beyond this group to collect insights on what you are building as soon as possible

Thinking Ahead

  • It is a good idea to start thinking about:
    • How you will make money
      • Most successful companies have an idea of how they will make money from the start
      • We will spend more time on business models in the coming sections
      • So if you aren't sure right now, don't panic
      • But it is worth keeping top of mind because if you can't make money, your idea won't work out
    • Who is your competition?
      • It is important to focus on your single value proposition, but you also need to be aware of your competition in the space
        • Again, we will dig deeper into the competitive landscape in a coming section
        • But for now, do a quick Google search and identify who is also solving the same problem
      • It is not a bad sign if there is competition
        • It shows that the problem is worth solving - others are doing it
        • The key is to figure out how you are going to do it better, faster, and/or cheaper
        • How is your single value proposition going to distinguish you from the rest of the field?
        • What is your core differentiator?
        • This will help you prioritize the features and explain to users why they need you

Start Small

  • The M in MVP stands for minimum for a reason
  • This does not mean you sacrifice the value that the user receives from your product
  • The MVP must solve a real problem from the start
    • It doesn't need to solve all the problems, but the main one is a must
  • There are tons of examples of major companies finding success with their MVP
    • For example, look at Uber (originally called Ubercab) and their MVP
      • They had a singular focus that brought users value immediately upon launch
        • Book and pay for a car from your phone
        • It was simple and clear what the value was
      • Uber started small
        • They had three cars in one city (see original landing page below)
        • And you order from the web, app, or text
      • This single value remained the focus for a few years
        • They iterated on this MVP based on customer feedback
        • It was 2 or 3 years after the launch of their MVP before they started to deviate from the MVP and allow drivers to use their own, non-luxury cars
        • image
      • So what made Uber and their MVP so successful?
        • They were laser-focused on their single value proposition
        • They offered the maximum value with a minimum product
        • They identified their ideal customer and targeted them
          • They collected feedback after every ride
          • They iterated on their product
        • They doubled down on what was working
          • Then, when they were ready they added non-luxury cars and additional cities
          • They have since added more offerings and deliveries
    • Hear directly from Uber Co-Founder, Travis in the early days of the company

Episode Date: August 16, 2011

Jason Calacanis




  • Jason and Travis Kalanick Co-Founder of Uber discuss the following topics (and more) from Uber's early days:
    • 42:30 How did you and Garrett come up with Uber while at Le Web in Paris?
    • 34:45 How does Uber work?
    • 46:00 Travis says there are going to be more Uber cars than town cars in each city.
    • 47:00 Travis: Successful entrepreneurs can get their first round of funding done very fast.
    • 48:30 How do you know when you actually have a good idea?

Building an MVP

  • There are a lot of debates about how to and how not to build an MVP on the internet
  • One of the most popular descriptions you'll find is for "building a car" (shown below)
  • image
  • In the top "How NOT TO BUILD" image the user is unable to use the product until it is complete
    • As mentioned before, customer feedback throughout the process is vital
    • You want to build in a way that the user is getting maximum value as quickly as possible
    • You could spend a lot of time and money building this first model only to find out that the car is not what the customer wanted
  • In the bottom "How TO BUILD" image the user can be transported at every step
    • This allows the user to provide feedback along the way
    • Another positive consequence of building this way is you may discover that it is the "bike" stage of the product that differentiates you
      • You could then double down or pivot based on this customer feedback
      • If you waited to get that feedback until you were handing the keys of the car to the user - you would have missed that opportunity
  • The cake model is another way to think about creating an MVP
  • image
  • This model reinforces the importance of starting small
    • The user gets no value if you simply give them the ingredients ("How not to build")
    • It is better to give them a cupcake while gradually working towards the wedding cake ("How to build")
  • Some argue that the cake model is a better representation of building an MVP because the user can sample the actual end product throughout the process
    • Unlike the car example where there is a drastic transformation from stage to stage
  • However, it really depends on what you are selling
    • If they are selling transportation in the first model then one could argue the car and cake model are essentially the same
    • If they are selling a car thought it makes sense that they want to differentiate steps in a way that more resembles a car along the way
  • Regardless, the biggest takeaway when building your MVP is to ensure your users are always finding value and that you can collect feedback along the way
  • The article MVP in Agile - Screw the MVP & Build Incrementally does a great job of laying out steps to improve your MVP in an implemental way
  • If you commit to getting a little better every single day you'll notice drastic improvements looking back a month or a year from now
  • In Atomic Habits, author James Clear points out the value of these small improvements
  • If you can get just 1 percent better each day, you’ll end up with results that are nearly 37 times better after one year. - James Clear
  • This concept applies directly to building your MVP
  • image
  • James Clear explains this concept from Atomic Habits: How to Get 1% Better Every Day in this quick video
  • As you saw with the two models above (and any search you do online) there is some debate about what an MVP is and how to build one
    • We are not going to get caught up in all of that - there will be no test over vocabulary
    • We are going to focus on building a great product that delights customers

Initial MVP Requirements

  • You have already started to collect the initial pieces for your MVP through the previous activities
    • You have come up with an idea that solves a specific problem
      • Focussing in on a single value prop
    • You will spend time revisiting who the ideal customer is that needs this problem solved and where you can find them
    • You will also briefly look into the competitive space to understand who else is working on a similar solution
    • You previously started to lay the foundation for what your product will look like
      • The wireframe from section "No Code Intro" will act as a guide as you start to build your MVP
  • Identify the key features that align with your single value prop
    • Ask yourself if there are any templates you could use to build these features
    • The Bubble templates we used from the previous section have a lot of great tutorials to get you started
      • Is there a template that you could tweak to fit your needs and avoid starting from scratch?
      • e.g. If I'm launching a company that is the Uber of Helicopters...
        • A quick Google search for "Bubble Uber template (or clone)" pops up some useful examples
  • How do you prioritize features?
  • First, ask yourself if the feature supports the single value prop you've defined
    • If it doesn't then put it in your backlog and don't revisit it for a while (maybe years)!
    • If it does support your single value prob you'll have some decisions to make
      • But ultimately the priority needs to come down to whatever provides the most value to the customer
      • If you provide value the layout and design are not as important
        • Think about Craigslist
          • They identified their ideal customer
          • Provide a service that their customers value
          • They have hardly updated since the mid-1990s
        • Now this is not to say that design isn't important - having things look nice is important
          • Probably more so than the 1990s when Craigslist started
          • But in terms of prioritizing features - value to the customer is top
      • Remember your MVP is not going to be perfect, but it should solve a problem and provide value
  • If you are looking for a more specific steps to define key features, prioritize their development, and review some concepts we've discussed previously - you'll want to check out How to Prioritize MVP Features: 9 Useful Approaches

So just how far can you go with a no-code MVP?

  • There are several examples of no-code products getting thousands of users, tens of thousands of dollars monthly revenue, and raise significant rounds before moving off of no-code platforms
  • The platforms just keep getting better, and the solutions are able to support more and more users
  • Chris Lu discussed in a recent interview how they built copy.ai's MVP on a no-code platform in around 4 weeks
    • Within 8 months they hit $90k MRR and raised a $2.9M seed round
  • Jason talked about the no-code revolution on The Knowledge Project podcast
    • Jason believes it is possible to get to $10m-$100m in revenue fully on a no-code platform
  • Episode Date: Apr 12, 2020
  • You have been laying the foundation for the initial requirements of your MVP in previous sections
  • Before you start building in the coming sections take some time to revisit and solidify your answers to the following:
    • Does your idea solve a major problem?
      • Who else is trying to solve this problem?
      • How are you going to differentiate?
    • Who are the people who have this problem?
      • Find them
      • Talk to them
      • Gather feedback to help build a solution they will pay for
    • What is your single value proposition?
      • Stay laser-focused on providing value and delighting your users
      • What key features are necessary for your product to deliver this value?

Additional Resources


🔲  Revisit your ideal customer profile from week 1

  • Dig deeper into and continue tracking the following:
    • Where is your ideal customer?
    • How will you talk to them? What are they saying?
    • How are they currently solving the problem they have?
    • What is the main value you provide that will draw them to your product?

🔲  Complete an initial competitive analysis

  • Dig deeper into and continue tracking the following:
    • Who else is in your space?
    • What are your distinguishing features?
    • Why would a customer use you over their current solution?
    • Will they pay to use your solution? Or how will you make money?

🔲  Key Features as part of Single Value

  • Continue to update your wireframe
    • Does the feature directly provide value to the customer?
      • Create a backlog of features that aren't immediately necessary
      • Prioritize the features that are core to. your product
    • What feedback have potential users given you based on your initial mock-ups?
  • You will begin to work in no-code next
    • The more complete these initial wireframes are the easier it will be to jump right into building your application


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