How to Build a Lean MVP Within a Corporate Environment

MVPs help corporates and startups test new offerings. We’ll guide you through the MVP process and highlight the differences you can expect in each environment.

Colourful house designed to look like it’s upside down
Colourful house designed to look like it’s upside down

Minimum viable products (aka MVPs) are used by both corporates and startups across different industries to test the product/market fit of new offerings. They enable you to measure customer interest and provide a reliable baseline for new iterations - all before you spend too many valuable resources building a product nobody wants to buy. 

In essence, MVPs enable you to make your audience an integral part of the development process, leveraging their feedback to make iterations that will increase your chances of success. Most importantly, they ensure each step in your development process is validated with real-world customer data, so you can make informed, concrete decisions on how to move forward (e.g. develop, pivot, or kill).

While MVPs were originally designed for startup environments, corporations worldwide have adapted the technique to fit the vastly different needs and conditions in large enterprises. For the most part, the process remains the same, but there are some important considerations you should keep in mind when building an MVP in a corporate environment.  

To help guide you through the corporate MVP building process, we’ve broken it all down into five simple steps. 

Step 1. Do your research

Some of the top reasons new ventures fail in both corporate and startup environments include:

Graph showing percentages of two items

MVPs decrease risk (and keep ventures from adding to the above stats) by enabling you to validate assumptions before making any big investments. The first step is simple: Do your research. When done right, market research can help you better understand: 

  • Who your target audience is
  • What their pain points are 
  • What they look for in a solution 

It can also provide pretty concrete data on whether your potential customers are willing to pay for your solution and how much they’re willing to pay for it.   

This data can be gathered in various ways, using lean experiments (e.g. in-depth interviews, online surveys) and good old-fashioned desk research. If your results support your assumptions (e.g. my customers want this offering and are willing to pay for it), you can move forward knowing that:

  • There’s a market for your product (product/market fit)
  • Your offering is profitable (you won’t run out of funds)  

Startup vs corporate environments

Positive numbers backing the desirability, feasibility and profitability of a new offering is a green light in both corporate and startup environments. It signals the promise that a new venture holds fast, enabling teams to unlock the resources they need to move forward.

Startups can use the data to get funding from banks, investors and VCs. Corporates, on the other hand, share this data with venture boards, c-suite executives and other corporate stakeholders, reassuring them of the success of the venture and unlocking the resources they need for further development. 

Step 2. Define your user journey

Now that you know a bit more about your target audience and what they’re looking for in a solution, it’s time to map out your user journey. The idea is to gather all your insights and learnings till this point and really see your offering from the perspective of your potential user. This will enable you to foresee and get in front of any possible challenges, issues or bottlenecks that might hinder the success of your venture.  

To create an effective user journey, you have to consider the different stages your customer might go through to buy your product or service, e.g.,

  • How will they find it?
  • Where will they buy it?
  • What’s the delivery process like?

The ultimate goal is to have a map of the different stages in your customer journey, to ensure the best possible customer experience.

Startup vs corporate environments

In most cases, independent startups have to be lean and quick during this phase because they don’t really have the time, funding or resources for prolonged testing and research. Corporates have a bit more leeway because they tend to have more budget, giving them a slightly wider timeframe. They can also rely on valuable corporate assets like:

  • A built-in customer base on which to test 
  • Industry know-how and talent
  • Facilities, tools and infrastructure
  • Partnerships and broad networks

 These factors can give corporate teams a considerable edge over independent startup teams, who might be facing added pressure to speed through the process.

Step 3. List and prioritise your features 

Before you start building your MVP, it’s a good idea to list and prioritise the features it will have. Remember, building an MVP is an iterative process, so you won’t be adding in all your features at once. Instead, you’ll be adding them in stages, which is why you’ll need a prioritised features list. 

When prioritising your MVP features, consider some of the following questions:

  • What do my customers really need/want?
  • What assumptions do my features help validate?
  • What type of value does each feature add to my MVP?
  • What are the easiest/cheapest features to add?

Pro tip: It’s not uncommon for some of your favourite features to test on the low side. Make sure to keep your decisions data-based, and don’t be afraid to toss any unnecessary features.  

Startup vs corporate environments

While this process is the same for both corporates and startups, in most cases, corporates will have a rich body of learning and industry expertise to lean on. This can make it easier for them to figure out which features should be prioritised. 

Step 4. Build and launch

Now that you’ve covered your bases, it’s time to start building! Although you’ll be working on a first iteration, make sure it's functional enough to engage customers and validate your venture idea:

  • It should provide solid buying intent data (e.g. clicks on the “buy now button”)
  • It should be detailed enough to show customers the value of buying
  • It should provide enough reliable data to guide your next steps

Once that’s covered, you’ll be ready for your first launch. The goal? To gather enough customer data to design your next iteration. 

Startup vs corporate environments

For many independent startups, it’s a race to get to that first MVP launch, the success of which can make or break the venture (due to limited funding and resources). 

On the other hand, corporate startups have a bit more room for planning and designing their go-to-market (GTM) strategy. This gives them more breathing space to learn from their mistakes, make improvements and re-launch. 

Step 5. Measure, learn and iterate

Building an MVP is an iterative process, which means you’ll be going through several “build-measure-learn” loops before you hit your sweet spot. Make sure to review your data thoroughly and heed the feedback your customers give you. 

Each data-fueled iteration you make will get you closer to your finalised product or service. 

Startup vs corporate environments

Independent startups face quite a few challenges due to their limited funds and resources; however, the MVP process is not all smooth sailing for corporates. 

When testing their MVPs, corporate startup teams have to be mindful of how it might affect the overall brand, avoiding any possible backlash or negative reaction from customers. 

Final thoughts

While both corporates and startups use MVPs to fuel product development with real customer data; each has adapted the process to fit the unique needs of its own environment. Make sure to take these differences into account as you navigate the process. It will help you anticipate challenges and increase your chances of MVP success. 

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Building an MVP is a crucial step in building a successful corporate venture. We can help you leverage cutting-edge growth marketing and customer acquisition techniques to design, build and launch your MVP with measurable results.

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