When you’re building a technology product – whether that’s a mobile app or game, B2B software, or anything in between – there comes a time when you have to ship. You have to get the product in the customers’ hands as soon as possible. In the software space we refer to this as creating the MVP: Minimum Viable Product. The MVP of a product refers to the least amount of functionality needed in order to get in a customer’s hands where it is still a viable offering.
For example, if you think about a service like Evernote (I’ve written a lot about Evernote on this blog), with a ton of bells and whistles, you can easily see the difference between the MVP and the product that exists today. The MVP for Evernote would be: allow people to take a note, save it, and access it later. That’s it. Some of the features that exist today could never have been conceived at the outset of development but rather were learned along the way as users played with the initial MVP.
One thing that I’ve seen both at Dragon Army and past startups that I’ve been involved with is the difficulty of accepting that shipping requires sacrifices. When people work on a product for a long time, and especially a game, they can become very passionate about the product…which is great! And if they weren’t passionate and excited about it, something would be wrong. The challenge then becomes deciding the things that need to be dropped in order to ship the product.
In my experience, it takes someone outside of the project (likely the CEO depending on the size of the company) to make the tough call and decide what needs to be pushed off in order to ship the product. It’s never easy, but sometimes small sacrifices today can result in a better outcome tomorrow.