The MVP is over. You have to think about MVE

The author gives you a clue: the “V” in MVE does not mean viable, as you probably thought, but valuable. A whole new definition

Most startups start with a light bulb.

Suddenly, the founder clearly sees a problem with no apparent solution. How can I solveit?

Unfortunately, that's not the right question (at least not on its own). And that is one of the main reasons why, according to reports, 10% of startups fail in the first year, and another 70% fail between the second and fifth year. In the end, only one in ten survives.

I know this because, in the last 20 years of working with entrepreneurs, I have been at the base of more than 20 startups that went from idea to IPO: the rare companies that achieve it. What I find most useful is not what made them succeed, but what almost killed them.

Most first-time founders don't invest enough and just build something untested based on instinct. Others invest more than necessary, don't test anything and launch something with few or many features.

When you read this, you may think: «Ah, I get it! “They are missing a step in which they launch and learn from an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).”

Nice try, but no.

I'll give you a hint: It's not about what it is. viable. It's about what it is valuable.

In this article, I will share in a few minutes what it took me more than 20 years to learn. But first, let's take a look at the ultimate lightbulb moment.

You probably learned in grade school that Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb.

Well no.

Many other inventors, such as Ebenezer Kinnersley, Humphry Davy, and Joseph Swan, developed various forms of wire incandescence before Edison. By the time Edison focused on the problem of safe, sustainable, affordable and odor-free lighting in the 1870s, there were even some patents for versions of incandescent light bulbs. (The main indoor lighting solution at that time was lamps Of gas).

As an innovator and entrepreneur, Edison had already decided that the money was not necessarily in the invention itself. He was more interested in what he called “perfecting”, that is, making things better or cheaper. (do an MVE)

I like how he puts it New Yorker:

«Edison did not look for problems that needed solutions; “He was looking for solutions that needed modifications.”

The problem with the existing solutions was that they were not very practical and the light bulbs did not last long.

In other words, they were viable but not especially valuable.

This is where Edison shined (sorry, had to). From their Menlo Park headquarters, Edison and his team tested between 3,000 and 6,000 materials and filaments before concluding that carbon was the solution in 1879.

A year later, they discovered that carbonized bamboo could burn for more than 1,000 hours, and thus the incandescent light bulb we know today was born.

What Edison tried so hard to create was something I call an MVE (Minimally Valuable Experience).

How were you able to get something that people desperately needed and make it easily accessible, affordable and durable? That's the lightbulb moment.

Before moving on to how to create your MVE, here are two crucial points:

  • Your story is your strategy.
  • How you express it matters and makes the difference between “meh” and “MRR”.

Ultimately, it's about knowing your audience, what language and messages resonate with them, and the tactics, triggers, and touchpoints that move them to action.

To do this quickly and effectively, I have developed a framework called ACT, which can help you get to the point and save thousands of pounds on useless and wasted marketing exercises.

The ACP framework summarizes the three main components:

  • Audience
  • Communication
  • Contact points

Who is it addressed to?

The first thing to know what to say is to know who you are saying it to.

Who is your ideal client? What do you want/need/use when looking for the transformation you can offer them? What are they looking for when they look for what you offer them? What habits, behaviors, goals or defining aspects attract them to your product?

What are you trying to say?

It's about what and how to speak to your audience. You have to use language and format that resonates with them.

Speak how they speak.

What aspirations or motivations can you communicate that connect with their palate and their pocketbook?

Where should you share your message?

It's about the how. You already know who you are addressing (A) and what you want to say (C). Now is the time to design the touchpoints and triggers that drive them to action.

This includes things like the website, social media accounts, and email campaigns. The idea is to use this juice to identify the funnels and tactics that are most efficient and offer the best ROI.

People often make mistakes. Sometimes all you need is a simple waitlist to sign up; Other times, it's more strategic, like access to a private WhatsApp group, or something more complicated, like a detailed funnel and immersive story.

For example, let's say you're launching a new non-alcoholic beer. Here's a quick example of how to put the ACT into practice

TO: Traditional demographic data, such as age, gender or geographic location, are not very useful, since non-alcoholic beer transcends all of those basic indicators. Instead, consider their behaviors: They love drinking beer, but they don't like the impact of alcohol on their health and productivity. They also want to enjoy an adult-style drink when relaxing or going out socially.

c: From the point of view of the message, you have to let the public know that your drink is the closest thing to beer that exists: it is handcrafted with high-quality ingredients and its attractive packaging rivals even the most modern IPAs. Best of all, it is low in calories and does not leave a hangover.

T: Not drinking alcohol but still having fun is a lifestyle, so Instagram and TikTok are perfect channels.

If you want me to help you visualize this, you can download a free map ACT or give me a spin ACT AI tool.

As you can see, ACT helps you find out:

What are the experiences or touchpoints that can drive traction?

For some, it's the perfect signup form with a well-thought-out Tweet that goes viral. For others, it's a polished story of how their product creates change and transforms someone's life. Or it could be about organizing the perfect event that clearly demonstrates how your product helps people achieve a better version of themselves.

Let's look at a contemporary company that will help you understand how the MVE formula works magic.

The MVE of Webflow, the no-code platform for web designers, was a post of Hacker News in 2013 that went viral and generated 20,000 registrations in one day.

Today, the story of Webflow is iconic. But first let's take a step back in time.

See how your messages have evolved

You've come a long way from your first registration page, right?

This brings me to the topic of MVE.

Sometimes something as simple as a registration form can work; Other times, it takes a lot more to test, learn, and iterate forward. That's the story of Webflow.

Nowadays, everyone is talking about multi-billion dollar valuations. (Fun fact: According to an estimate made at the time of Edison's death, about $15 billion of the US economy came from his inventions alone. So you could say he was the original billionaire.)

But what most don't talk about is how their startups nearly died many times to get there. (Seriously, read the post by the founder of Webflow, Vlad Magdalin, recapping the true history of Webflow in Hacker News).

The journey begins with Vlad's realization in 2004. As a college intern at a web design agency rushing to pay off his student loans, Vlad saw a glaring inefficiency: designers dream, programmers build.

But what if designers could directly bring their visions to life?

Fast forward to 2013. A crucial lunch around his little brother Sergie's laptop becomes the birthplace of the Webflow revolution we know today.

Drag, drop and publish: the co-founders witnessed the first website born from Webflow. The vision was no longer just a dream; It was a reality.

From Vlad's initial vision, Bryant Chou's technological expertise, and Sergie's design skills, Webflow was not just a product. It was a mission to democratize web design, making it accessible and empowering creators around the world.

This was their value proposition and their unique positioning, and the way they envisioned a much better world for many.

This does not mean that they had it easy. When creating MVE, they faced rejection, financial obstacles, and skepticism. However, their move from agency to product, combined with a vision that never gave up, paved the way for what we know today as the no-code web design platform for designers.

Along the way, they mastered the art of building community, using early feedback to refine their product even when traction seemed impossible.

Viral moments on platforms like Hacker News They were not the result of luck, but were orchestrated by placing Webflow in the right placein it right moment and for him appropriate audience.

The result?

Webflow not only joined the no-code movement, it dominated it.

They transformed web design from a technical PITA into a creative playground, empowering designers to own their entire creative process without code.

In 2019, Webflow raised $72 million in Series A, a testament to its impact and the growing no-code space.

In the startup world, it's about more than just having a good product. It's about vision, adaptability and never giving up. It's also about meeting your audience where they are and continually surprising and delighting them.

Today, following its $120 million Series C funding round, Webflow is valued at $4 billion.

Don't let those big numbers make you forget where Vlad and Sergie came from. That outlay came from pure, simple beginnings: they focused on knowing their audience of web designers, inside and out. And they continued to pursue their people, repeatedly offering them experiences that made a significant difference in their lives.

What the ACT + MVE approach allows you to do is iterate quickly to get to the minimum valuable experience. And when you focus on what's truly important to your customers and potential customers, you light up their lives.

For me, EVM is the only viable path to business success.