Do you need to show an MVP to investors?
I am fortunate to have a network of talented UXers who care about what they do.
Just recently, one of my fellows asked if it was a good idea to show an old MVP to an investor when pitching a project. The website is not really up to date but holds the idea.
However, what if the investors do not like the looks and will judge the book by its cover?
A tough question indeed. Here’s my take on early stage MVPs and when to show them. Also a reminder that design can be a pivotal moment you can heavily rely on.
I am not going to bore you with the terminology and definitions, but MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It can be anything that represents the future product idea.
Even a landing page can be an MVP.
Every early-stage startup starts with a narrative for the pitch to their potential investors. Basically, and MVP is a promise that the product will sell.
Ideas are cheap. Prove me that yours is not.
You can have several ideas of a product’s functionality, but it will only be one MVP.
For example, when I was working on a social media platform for those who wanted to stick to dieting as a lifestyle, we had a bunch of ideas on how things will work and what features the product will have.
However, the MVP itself was a plain simple concept with a login screen and two buttons for social interactions or personal achievements. That was the main reason the platform would exist.
Now, here’s a question: do you need to show this screen?
The answer is, as everything in the UX world, it depends.
I can draw wireframes, mockups, and interaction in Figma. But why should anybody care about these pictures in the first place? It’s not like I am selling some art or anything, right?
Pitching an idea, you are not just asking for an endorsement. You want the money.
It is a very valuable currency (no pun intended), and people care a lot about it. To give money away for something else, people should care about it just as much (or even more).
You want the money, not the idea of money, right?
They want the same! How can I understand if these pictures are worth it? A picture is worth a thousand words, true. But a picture with a relevant number starts a perfect narrative about its worth.
What did you do to make your MVP speak?
Turn the moment of showing the MVP into something more than just a session when everyone is nodding on a picture.
For some reason, many people think about getting approval first, and then they can start testing. In reality, you need to start exploring the solution way before you ask.
Think about it. You will not ask a parent for permission to go out without finishing your homework and hope that they will just trust you. Get your homework done, and you are more likely to succeed.
Once you start testing your MVP, you will see the numbers. You will have something to show. Or, on the contrary, something to change.
As you know, the initial idea might not work perfectly in the first place.
If your idea worked right after the first test, my congratulations. You are a genius. No kidding.
But if it did not, it’s time to revamp your MVP and test it again, until you have the results you want to show.
Do not be afraid to show the dynamic of the MVP development process: “We went from this idea, which did not work out, to another one. It was also not something we needed. But after a couple of iterations, we figured out how to make it work.”
What does it say to me? That you’ve done your homework, and you know how to tweak things when they do not go as expected. A perfect money-making opportunity, isn’t it?
Designing with purpose.
If you are a designer, you will more likely to be concerned about the MVP’s look and feel. Designing it well is your primary responsibility.
If the first implementations of the MVP failed, make sure to explain your further design choices for the next ones. Did the conversion go up because the sing up button became more obvious and visible? Have you gotten more people to enter their email because you used the design patterns to built trust?
That’s your time to shine. And an opportunity to get the desired seat at the table. Because your design decisions will directly impact one of the most important part — the money.
I do not want to invest in something because it’s just like Facebook. I want to invest money into something that will make a profit.
So, do I need to show or now?
Only if you show more than just a picture.
If you have the results to back up the success story you sell. If you have just a picture — it will not make much of a difference. Just the same way as you would not show it at all.
If your narrative is too raw, work on it, do not blame the deliverables. Otherwise, you will just think that the pitch did not work because you had a bad MVP. And we all know it’s not true.
An MVP is not your final result, but the primary facilitator to your narrative and success story. If the success story is not compelling enough, it’s not because of an old or raw MVP or not enough visuals.
Showing an MVP, treat it as a case for a detective to solve. If there’s no evidence on who’s the murderer, there’s no compelling case to solve and succeed.