Your MVP needs to Spark Joy

It’s common startup wisdom to launch as soon as possible and be slightly embarrassed [1] about the first version.

I often see new launches where people take this advice too literally, as if any kind of polish is premature optimization. The hard part of course is knowing what the M in Minimal Viable Product really is: what parts can I leave out? There are certain things you can be embarrassed about, yes, but some things need to be really good about it.

I almost never see an MVP take off for which the core experience is not super polished. It’s more than polish actually. Something about it sparks joy, is delightful or whimsical. You want to tell others about the great experience you had.

You need initial super fans for your product to take off. Yes there are a few exceptional idea planets which have such low escape velocity that any solution goes, but most ideas are about execution. Indifference about your solution is the enemy of a new product, so you need to make an impression and stand out.

It’s embarrassing to ship your product without a password reset. It’s embarrassing to ship a smartphone without copy&paste [2]. But none of those things matter. They’re not what makes you unique, they don’t define the experience. You can get initial fans without.

You need your own version of completely useless but cool animations [3], rubber band scrolling [4], handwritten post cards to first customers or even whoopee cushions and light shows [5], or a funny demo video [6]. This is what gets press and what people tell their friends about.

Put in the creative work to make your MVP stand out in such a way that you attract initial fans. It doesn’t even need to be a lot of work, and especially for technical founders this is the kind of marketing that should be fun. Turn those early adopters into fans, and make the first impression of your product really great. Worry about the long tail feature stuff later, but at least some people need to think “wow this is cool”. That’s what’s part of the M in MVP to me.



[3] I could watch this all day.




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