The cautionary tale of the “Minimum Viable Product”


4 mins read

#MVP – a dangerous concept, because it evokes the idea of ‘simplicity’ and ‘ease’, but is often loaded with too many expectations. In reality, it can sometimes mean #MadeVeryPoorly or #MadewithVeryfewPennies. Don’t be surprised when your MVP falls short of being a grand masterpiece.

So, grab yourselves brew and strap in as we’re about to delve into the three approaches for cash-strapped start-ups or experimental departments facing limitations when opting for an MVP.

Approach 1: The Shed Conundrum

This on happens easily and often. Don’t feel bad if that’s the trap you run into. If there’s no proper plan in place and you just get going, you very quickly end up with a system that’s sort of like a building, but instead of a nice house on solid foundations (my favourite analogy), you have wonky shed.

Rule number one: be cautious when using low-code or no-code platforms. While these promise simplicity, putting complex ideas onto these tools often ends in disappointment. Yes, you can create a basic front-end easily, but don’t expect robust and scalable functionality in the back end. It can result in spaghetti-code that is difficult to maintain or expand. And if you only use these tools for the front-end, there’s almost no real advantage over a custom build with ready made library components any more. You might as well start properly…


To illustrate this further with the house building analogy:
So you’re building a shed, tying it together with string, opening the doors, and hoping for the best. But then the roof leaks, parts start falling off, and it can’t accommodate more people without collapsing.


Pros: Very little. You’ll get some sort of working system but only at the cost of short term gain and long term pain.
Cons: The follow up cases are not ideal – because as well as building the new house that’s actually stable and won’t be usable for a good long time, you have to make sure that the shed doesn’t collapse while you’re at it. Double trouble and expenses.


How do you get out of this mess without collapsing yourself?

To scale, you have two options:

Try to salvage bit by bit (a) or knock it all down and build again from scratch (b)

What does that look like?

a) Salvaging: You could build a solid concrete foundation next to your wonky shed while you keeping the door open and patching things up that fall off the shed. You slowly add electricity, water and sewage connection and then start building one room at a time. Lets say the kitchen first. Then the bathroom, then bit by bit you keep building more rooms and floors and move the furniture from the shed to the new shiny house until the shed is empty and can be dismantled. This needs a lot of well planned project coordination and data handling.

b) The other way forward, once you get stuck, is to scrap whats there and start from scratch, which often is difficult and expensive. Because there are already lots of people going in and out of your shed. So directing them away while you do a complete rebuild is not easy.

Approach 2: Fake it till you make it

That’s when you build your MVP like a theatre stage: a prop, with no substance in the back. You’re just showing an elaborate fake really. A great example for this is the story of an actual theatre: the theatre that provided “online ticket bookings”. When an order came in (via a simple form that emailed the form fields) some real world people literally run downtown to the theatre, bought tickets at the box office and confirmed the booking manually via email.

Pros: cheap and cheerful, you can actually proof a concept and see if anyone wants to use your solution.
Cons: its manual. So if your goal is to automate a very complex manual process, there might not be much point to doing this at all.

Approach 3: The solid foundation

The third, and in my opinion the most sensible option in most cases, is the solution where you start with just a simple but very solid foundation of a base system. As in the salvaging scenario of point 1), you’d pour a concrete foundation and get the electricity, water and sewage in place. It’s all set up to be built upon. Then erect a tent on the foundation and camp in there for a while. Which means you start small but solid and don’t have to start again once you want to ramp up the operations and functionality.

Pros: when it works well and you proof your business model works, great! You can keep building your walls, rooms, attic etc. because you’re already on sold footing, so that’s going to be easy. And it’s going to be a relatively small investment up front to get started. You also don’t need much support once your tent is up. Only once you want to grow, you can get the professionals in again and invest in the expansion.
Cons: It might initially cost a bit more than the shed, because you need the concrete van and someone who knows how to pour a foundation. But once you’re done, you’re rolling. Of course if the experiment doesn’t work, then you’ve spent a bit more than on solution 2.

Trend 5: Platform Engineering

Platform engineering is … well, it’s not exactly new. You’re picking the right tech tools for the job at hand, such as specific software, applications and systems that are best suited to perform certain tasks.


Gartner shines the spotlight on Nike’s platform engineering. Nike has crafted ‘composable platforms’ (think of it as tech Lego – different pieces can be used, shuffled around, or swapped out as needed) loaded with precisely chosen tools. Perhaps there’s a tool for 3D sneaker designing or software that sifts through sales data, guessing which running shoe colour will fly off the shelves next season.

It’s like having a tailored tech toolbox for each job to make the work as effortless as tying your shoelaces. But let’s cut through the buzzwords. Simply put, we’re discussing the core software a company uses – like tools for designing products or predicting sales.

Trend 6: Wireless-Value Realisation

Wireless-value realisation is about boosting profits by wirelessly connecting all business tools – like computers and inventory trackers – to improve overall efficiency.


For instance, Shufersal, an Israeli retailer, leverages this principle by using power harvested from the network for Internet of Things (IoT) chips. IoT is just a fancy term for everyday items like fridges or phones connected to the internet for smart, automated functions.

These chips track their products from farm to store, enhancing supply chain efficiency, inventory management, and providing detailed product origin info. With fewer items going to waste and the bonus of potentially charging a bit more for this top-notch tracking, their profits get a nice little boost.

Despite the fancy ‘value-realisation’ term, we’re just talking about making bank. And, if you’re turning wired into wireless, chances are, you’re making more bank.

Trend 7: Superapps

Superapps are like having a bunch of small apps in one big app. They seem handy, but often they’re just reused old ideas and might be more trouble than they’re worth.


Remember the 2000s? Trillian, a software that combined various messaging and email services into one, was all the rage. Today, we’re seeing a similar trend. Companies like Revolut are promoting superapps – platforms that bundle together various services. But history has taught us a lesson: users often find these bundled services overwhelming, leading companies to eventually separate their services again.

So, instead of jumping on the superapp bandwagon right away, perhaps it’s wiser to wait and see how this trend pans out before we find ourselves hitting the ‘rewind’ button once again.

Trend 8: Adaptive Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Adaptive AI improves with experience. It’s different from generative AI, like Open AI’s ChatGPT. The adaptive type becomes more efficient at tasks as it gathers new data over time, constantly fine-tuning its performance.


Dow, a chemicals powerhouse, deploys adaptive AI. They use it to streamline their business, and with every bit of data it processes, it gets smarter. But it’s not always easy. It involves complex technical work and fast-paced problem-solving. Plus, these AI systems need to be flexible, ready to adjust quickly to new situations.

And they’re ravenous for data. The main course? Our interactions. So, it begs the question: Is this groundbreaking tech or sophisticated digital pickpocketing?

Trend 9: Metaverse

The Metaverse, accessible via devices like virtual reality (VR) headsets or smartphones, creates a whole new virtual 3D world or enhances our reality with digital elements.


Take OneRare, an Indian startup diving into the world of virtual reality. They’re offering a gamified experience where food lovers can pretend to munch on their favourite meals in a virtual world. At the same time, this platform helps food brands showcase their products to a global audience. Honestly though, the idea of pretend eating just makes us sad. It’s a concept that might tickle the fancy of some, but frankly, it seems like a recipe for disappointment.

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Despite all the buzz, the Metaverse feels like an overcooked trend that has yet to deliver a truly appetising experience.

Trend 10: Sustainable Technology

Sustainable tech, like solar energy solutions and waste management systems, boosts our planet’s health, community well-being, and corporate fairness.


Dubai Electricity & Water Authority uses the Internet of Things (IoT) – devices connected over the internet – to manage buildings smartly and cut water usage by half. Some companies are promoting the ‘circular economy,’ an idea about reusing and recycling to reduce waste. For example, Apple uses robots to recycle parts of old products, and IKEA, a firm believer in this cause, has even publicly shared a guide on designing products to be easily recyclable or reusable.

It’s a step towards saving the planet and ticking off environmental, social and governance (ESG) boxes. But it’s not a magic wand for all our environmental woes. It’s just one part of the larger picture of sustainability.

So, there you have it

The moral of the story here is to choose wisely in your MVP journey. If you didn’t quite get that, then not to worry. Fancy following us on socials instead? Click your way to our LinkedIn, Twitter, and Spotify. You won’t regret it… probably.