Table of contents

03 | How to start building your MVP wisely?

Clock 10 min read


Why haven’t we jumped into measuring and implementing MVPs yet? Because we still wanted to keep you busy with the very important topic of prioritizing the functionalities that ultimately relate to the scope of the MVP. In this chapter, we will share with you an interesting concept that helps you win customers already at the initial stage of MVP implementation.


How to prioritize (…)

We devoted the previous chapter to convincing you why it’s not worth starting to create an MVP without proper preparation and gathering information from the target audience and market research. We also told you what the risks are of not validating the idea and the potential for monetization. In this chapter, we will define where and how to start creating the scope of an MVP, and what we should watch out for in the initial phase of MVP implementation.

What is a “pre-mature optimization trap”?

The trap of premature optimization refers to the tendency to spend too much time and resources optimizing features that may not be crucial to the core functionality of the product. When you focus on optimizing features too early in the development process, you can end up wasting time, and resources and delaying product release.

The trap of premature optimization can affect the product development process in several ways:

  • Delayed time-to-market – this can affect the ability to gain market share and compete effectively with other products.
  • Increased development costs – this can affect your ability to compete on price and make it more difficult to achieve profitability.
  • Overly complex products – this can affect user adoption and retention, ultimately hindering the success of your product.
  • Poor user experience – you may end up with an overly complex, unattractive user interface that is difficult to navigate and use, this can lead to poor user experience and affect customer retention.
  • Unstudied theses – you may make assumptions about your product and target audience that are unvalidated, this can lead to building a product that does not meet the needs of the target audience or does not effectively solve their problems.

An interesting example of premature optimization and the development of functionality that turned out to be too elaborate and redundant after implementation was the Google Plus social networking platform’s friends circles. Unlike rival Facebook, where acquaintance through the portal was made bilaterally, by sending and confirming an invitation to become friends, in Google Plus you could add friends unilaterally (you add someone, but someone doesn’t have to add you). Interestingly, new friends were added to different circles, e.g. friends, family, interest groups, etc. In practice, this meant that you received notifications of posts from people in the group to which you were unilaterally accepted (whether you want it or not – which sounds absurd). This functionality is to this day considered one of the reasons for the failure of Google Plus in the social media market.

To avoid the trap of premature optimization, it is important to prioritize the scope of the MVP and focus on building relevant features that meet the needs of your target audience. Here are some tips:

  • Prioritize the development of relevant functions that meet the needs of the target audience. This helps minimize development costs and make sure that the delivered product meets users’ needs.
  • Setting realistic timelines is key to avoiding the trap of premature optimization. It is important to balance the time spent on developing new features and optimizing existing ones. Be mindful of the time needed to optimize features and make sure it is in line with overall product goals and timelines.
  • Awareness of when to stop optimizing. It is important to know when to stop optimizing and release the product. The person responsible for the product must be able to balance the need to optimize with the need to bring the product to market.
  • Getting perfectionism under control. Striving for perfection is a common pitfall of software developers, but it is important to remember that no product is ever truly perfect. You have to be able to find a compromise between optimization, conceptual work, and time spent on getting the product to market. You can’t let perfectionism become a barrier to pre-launching a product for valuable user feedback.

The trap of premature optimization can affect the cost of product launches, user experience, and overall product success. You can avoid it by conducting research, testing the product at various stages, setting a timeline for MVP development (which you will later follow), prioritizing the scope of the MVP, and focusing on building key features that meet the needs of your target audience.

What does the prioritization process consist of?

Step 1: Identify product goals

Before you start prioritizing features, you need to define your product goals. What problem will you solve for your users? What are the key metrics you want to measure? What is your overall product vision? 

To begin with, you should be able to identify the specific problem that your target audience is currently experiencing. Once you’ve identified the problem, think about the goals you want to achieve with your product. Having clear goals will help you make better decisions down the road when building your product strategy. The goals should be identifiable with quantitative as well as qualitative metrics, e.g. user engagement, customer retention, or revenue growth – we’ll talk more about this in the next chapter. 

Finally, consider your overall product vision. What do you want your product to achieve in the long term? What is your mission statement?

Step 2: Identify key functions

Once you’ve defined your product goals, it’s time to identify key features. For example, if you are building an e-commerce site, the ability to add products to a shopping cart and the process of finalizing a purchase will be such features.

To define must-have features for your product, start by thinking about the problem you are solving for your users. What are the necessary functionalities so that users can solve the problem without much difficulty? These functionalities should be the foundation of your product and form the basis of your MVP. 

At this stage, you may find it helpful to use methods that make it easier to empathize with future users, e.g. proto-persons, personae, user stories, or an empathy map. User stories are contexts that describe how a user will interact with your product to achieve a specific goal. Personae, on the other hand, are averaged images of your prospective users, illustrating a cross-section of your target audience and their needs.

Step 3: Arrange functions by value and complexity

Once you’ve identified the necessary functions, it’s time to rank the remaining functions by value and complexity. Value refers to the potential impact a feature will have on your users and your business. Complexity, on the other hand, refers to the effort required to implement the functionality. 

You should focus on high-value, low-complexity functions first, followed by high-value, high-complexity functions.

To prioritize features by value, start by thinking about the goals you want to achieve with your product. Which features will help you achieve those goals?

You can also use methodologies such as the Kano model to help you structure the value of individual functions. 

This model divides functions into three categories:

  • basic needs, are features that users expect and do not add extra value
  • satisfiers, which are those that improve the overall user experience,
  • and delighters – features that surprise and delight users and are a point of differentiation of your product from the competition.

To rank features by complexity, consider the effort required to implement each feature. This includes the time, resources, and technical expertise required. You can use tools such as the Product Roadmap to visualize the time-consuming nature of each feature and prioritize them in terms of order of implementation.

Step 4: Take into account user feedback and market trends

It is important to prioritize features based on value and complexity, but as we established in an earlier chapter, user feedback and market trends should be considered first and foremost. 

Users are the best source of feedback on what features they need and what will be necessary to solve their problems.

You should also keep track of what your competitors are doing and what new technologies are emerging. Analyze reports from the market to identify emerging trends and see how your product ranks in the broader market and technological context.

Step 5: Develop, refine, and iterate

MVP scoping prioritization is not a one-time process. Be prepared to iterate and update priorities as user feedback is received and the market evolves. As you build and deploy the MVP, you should collect data on user behavior and engagement so that you can make decisions about which features to implement next and which to change.

To begin identifying areas for improvement, start by analyzing the data collected from users. This can include metrics such as user engagement, customer retention, and conversion rate. Observe what area of your product users spend the most time on, and look for answers as to why this is so. Identify from observation and user testing process bottlenecks – places in your product that make it difficult for users to perform.

Usability testing is a mandatory activity if you want to collect data that will allow you to make the right decisions during further product development. Consider implementing an analytics platform such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel to help you track user behavior and gather insights.

Finally, keep an eye on the market and the competition. As new technologies emerge and user behavior changes, you may need to modify your product strategy to stay in the game. Look for opportunities to differentiate your product from the competition by offering unique features or experiences that solve real user problems.

What is MoSCow and how to use it to find the right minimum?

What is MoSCoW?

The MoSCoW is a prioritization technique used in project management and product development. It is an acronym for Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have. The method helps prioritize digital product features based on their importance and determine which features are essential to the product’s success.

Must-Have Features

These are the functions that the target group needs to solve problems with the product. Must haves are non-negotiable, and the scope of an MVP implementation must include them all. When identifying these features, it is important to consider the most important problem the product is meant to solve. These are the features whose presence or absence will directly affect the success of the product, their priority is the highest.

Should-Have Features

These are features that will improve the user experience and make the product more appealing to the target audience. Features that should be included in the MVP if time and resources allow.
When identifying this group of features, consider which ones will make the user experience more coherent and enjoyable.

Could-Have Features

These are features that would be nice to have but will not significantly affect the final success of your product. They can be added later in the product development process when the most relevant features have already been implemented and tested.

Won’t-Have Features

These are features that are not necessary or feasible within the budget and time at the MVP stage. When determining this group of features, consider which are necessary and can be added later in the product development process with an additional budget. These features may be valuable but are not necessary for MVP success.

How to use MoSCoW when creating an MVP?

The MoSCoW method is a very effective tool in determining the right minimum for an MVP. By categorizing features into must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have, we make sure that the MVP contains all the necessary features that constitute the product’s potential and value while minimizing unnecessary complexity and cost.

Using the MoSCoW method, start by identifying all possible features. Then categorize them into must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have based on their importance – using the data you’ve collected so far on user concerns and the market. This way you’ll be able to easily determine the right prioritization of the features that are most critical to the success of the product and create a development plan.

When using MoSCoW, keep in mind that the priority of functions may change over time. As your product evolves and your audience’s needs change, you may need to change the way individual functions work.

Avoid adding functions that may conflict with each other or their joint operation will confuse users – look at the functions added to each group as a synergistically working organism. Keeping the MVP simple and easy to use will increase its chances of success.

(…) to make a profit.

Validate the business potential of your idea

As we have already established, early validation is crucial in determining whether or not a product will be successful. This stage involves testing assumptions and validating ideas before investing time and resources into building a full-scale product. Have you ever heard of the demo-sell-build model by Ash Maurya? If not, we invite you to read on. If you have… we invite you to read our thoughts on the model in the context of prioritization. 🙂

What is the demo-sell-build concept?

The demo-sell-build concept is a model developed by Ash Maurya, founder of Leanstack and author of the books “Running Lean” and “Scaling Lean.” The model consists, as the name implies, of three stages: demonstrate, sell, and build. Each stage is designed to test a different aspect of the product idea, so we can make sure we are building something that the target audience needs.

Demo stage

The demo stage is all about testing your product idea and verifying your assumptions. At this stage, you create a simple prototype or demo of your product and show it to potential customers. The goal is to gather feedback and test assumptions about the needs and pain points of the target audience.

To create an effective demo, it is important to keep it simple and focused on the most important features. Use low-cost and easily editable methods, such as sketches or mockups, to create a visual representation of your product. This will allow you to test your idea while minimizing time, money, and resources.

You can feed the demo stage with data using context-appropriate research methods – such as customer interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Whichever method you choose, the goal is to gather feedback on your demo and determine whether potential customers are interested in your product idea.

Sell stage

The essence of the stage is to verify that your product idea has real market potential. At this stage, you can create a landing page or marketing materials and start promoting your product to potential customers. The goal is to collect pre-orders or commitments from customers before you invest time and resources in building a product MVP.

When gauging interest, focus on the benefits of your product rather than its features. When creating an attractive landing page, make sure you have a transparent call to action that will convince future customers to buy your product.

The sales stage can be conducted in a variety of ways. You can use email campaigns, social media ads, and even crowdfunding campaigns. The key is to use digital marketing tools to promote your product and see if there is a real market demand for it.

Build stage

The build stage is the final one in the demo-sell-build concept. During this stage, you take the feedback, and data collected in the demo and sales phases and use it to build a product MVP. The goal is to build an MVP that meets the needs of the target audience and fulfills the promises made in the sales phase.

Benefits of the demo-sell-build model

  • Risk minimization: By testing your assumptions and gathering feedback at the demo and sell stage, you minimize the risk of building a product that no one will want.
  • Saving time and money: By building a simple prototype at the demo stage and testing the market at the selling stage, you can avoid investing time and money in building a product before you know whether it has real market potential.
  • Better product-market fit: By gathering feedback and data at the demo and sell stages, you make sure you’re building a product that delivers real value.

A simple equation for how to scale an MVP

Scaling an MVP is not the easiest of tasks, so in the next part, we will talk about the 10X Product Launch method, which greatly simplifies the thinking behind a product launch. Ash Maurya, in addition to his work as a book author, has developed, the 10X Product Launch Strategy, which focuses on the need to analyze the riskiest parts of the product first, and then use a phased implementation of subsequent functionality to minimize risk.

10X Product Launch is a methodology that lays out a path for systematically dealing with three types of risk: product risk, customer risk, and market risk. The first step is to prioritize learning about the riskiest parts of the product.

Product risks – getting the right product

This step is exactly what we wrote about in an earlier section of the chapter:

  • minimizing product risk by making sure we are solving the right problem – interviews to identify needs and analysis 
  • defining the smallest solution that can solve the problem (our MVP)
  • validating the MVP through a demo/prototype – communicating a unique value proposition

Customer risk – building outreach channels

The second step is to minimize the so-called “customer risk” by planning the channels through which you will want to reach future customers. Start by defining the characteristics of the group of early adopters who need your product right away. First, it’s a good idea to plan outbound channels (communications aimed at the potential customer), while thinking about a strategy for developing inbound channels (channels for the potential customer to reach you).

Outbound channels can include methods such as direct contact, cold mailing, or social media marketing. Inbound channels would include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, or referral marketing.

Market risk – building a profitable business

Analyze direct competitors and alternative products offering similar functionality in terms of communications, differentiators, and pricing strategies. Find out the sensitivity of customers to competitors’ prices by studying what customers say (verbal commitments) and then what they do (behavioral pattern). Based on the information gathered, create a pricing strategy and optimize the cost structure to make the business model profitable (temporarily on paper). 

The 10X Product Launch strategy involves logarithmically increasing the scale of the product launch (10x) to ensure that the most critical issues are addressed first. Unlike the so-called private beta, in which the product is presented only to a narrow, select group of people in its first iteration, the 10X Product Launch Strategy prioritizes the need to demonstrate a strong belief in the success of the product and the availability of the product to a wider range of users.

Step 1: Use interviews to recruit 10 early adopters

The first step is to recruit 10 customers who need your product. Create a page describing the problem you want to solve and the unique value you want to deliver, and collect the email addresses of those interested. Conduct interviews to identify their exact needs and tailor the scope of the MVP to their preferences. The MVP should be so tailored that early adopters will declare that they will pay almost from the first day of implementation.

Build the MVP and verify that it meets the promised unique value proposition. Then improve it until 10 early adopters are satisfied and willing to continue paying for the product.

Step 2: Use the email list to find another 100 customers

The second stage is to use your email list to find the next 100 customers. Current customers can also help you complete the list of 100 prospective customers, e.g. through whisper marketing, by recommending you to friends, and family. Conduct interviews on the problems of potential customers. Then collect customer testimonials/case studies and start building a marketing website. At this stage, you can also start analyzing the full life cycle of your existing customers.

You can use the AAARR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue) model for analysis. It is commonly used to analyze and optimize user experience in digital products. Each of the five stages of AARRR represents a different aspect of the user experience:

  • Acquisition: How do users discover your product?
  • Activation: What actions do users take to start using your product?
  • Retention: How do you keep users engaged and coming back to your product?
  • Referral: How do you encourage users to invite others to use your product?
  • Revenue: How are you monetizing your product?

AARRR makes it easy to identify areas for improvement and helps you optimize your sales strategy. Come back to us in a while, you will learn more about AARRR in the next chapter.

Step 3: Use the website to attract another 1,000 customers

Use your site, to collect contact information for another 1,000 customers, you can do this, for example, by limiting access to information only for registered users and magnet leads.

At this stage, it’s a good idea to use the behavioral patterns and preferences of existing customers to re-optimize your pricing strategy and analyze which areas of customer service you can automate to avoid problems with further scaling.

Step 4: Build your “growth engine” for 10,000 more customers

The fourth and final stage is to build a growth engine for another 10,000 customers. Test new customer acquisition channels and optimize the cost structure. Analyze the AARRR funnel, in terms of maximizing conversions, and make sure you have achieved product fit with the needs of the acquired customers to a satisfactory degree.

Let’s summarize the benefits:

  • A large dose of knowledge in short time loops
  • Risk reduction at every stage of the product launch
  • Customer focus – prioritizing customers and gradually building customer contact paths
  • Effective scaling by tailoring the product to the needs of a small number of customers and gradually scaling up to larger numbers
  • A transparent process for identifying areas for improvement and optimizing to drive growth (AAARR)
  • Incremental automation of the service process – reducing costs in stages and increasing scalability potential.

The 10X Product Launch strategy is oriented toward acquiring the maximum amount of knowledge in a short period by focusing on different perspectives, and risks and matching the product to users’ preferences to the extent that they are willing to pay for it. You don’t need many users to learn. A sense of satisfaction from a few customers is enough in the beginning.

The 10X Product Launch strategy is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is a proven structure that can help startups successfully scale their MVPs. By maximizing learning and minimizing risk, startups can build profitable businesses and achieve their goals.


Prioritizing functionality in an MVP is a key element in the success of any product. Proper prioritization avoids the trap of premature optimization and ensures that valuable resources are used most efficiently. Keep in mind that the process of prioritizing functionality is not a one-time activity, but a continuous effort to adapt to user needs and market trends. 

On the other hand, the success of your product doesn’t depend only on well-executed prioritization. Constantly listen to your users, research the market, and be flexible to adapt to the dynamically changing business context and expectations for your product. 

Good luck! 🙂

Quiz Time

Which of the following is NOT the result of falling into the trap of premature optimization?
What is the role of the “Won’t-Have Features” category in the MoSCoW method?
What is the main objective of the sales stage in the demo-sell-build model by Ash Maurya?


0 out of 3

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