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The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets by Eric Ries, Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper

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Minimum Viable Product

At a recent Agile Conference in Scandinavia, presenter Dr. Venkat Subramaniam said, “programmers should have the courage not to write code.” This applies to all startup product developers no matter what the product. Please. Stop.

You should be building out product features only if the following applies to you:

You know.

If you are still learning, you should not be building features; you should be building experiments (which may contain features). It’s an important distinction.

Think of your product as having an intrinsic feature threshold. This threshold maps to the pain or passion of your market segment; once that threshold is met and the pain is resolved, adding more features will not resolve more pain. This bears repeating:

Economists call this declining marginal utility—we go as far as to suggest that if you build features into your product, release them to the world, and do not measure whether they are used or desired, you are inflicting harm to your existing value proposition; that is to say, the marginal utility of too many features is negative.

Increasing stuff that doesn’t add value dilutes existing value. Period.

It’s also extremely wasteful. Your testing team is wasting time testing it. Your sales team is wasting time and money selling new unwanted features. Your marketing team is wasting time marketing it. Your support team is wasting time supporting it.

To know means the customer demand is pulling the features out of you. How do you know? ...

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