19 June 2020
  • Industry Insight

Start with a cupcake (The Better MVP)

“I have an idea”. It’s a phrase I hear over and over again.

A friend, client, or potential client starts to rattle through their idea; it’s elaborate, complex, and your brain is already counting the months it would take to build. The conversation often ends, “Do you think the idea will work?”

The idea is often a good one but is often overgrown.

We need to get to the seed of the idea.

Peter Merholz is a user experience and design executive with 20 years of experience across a broad range of digital media.

In a presentation given at Mind The Product, he offered this analogy:

When making a wedding cake, the product isn’t what anyone desires until right at the end.

However, if you make a cupcake first, then a small cake, and then a wedding cake, at each stage you have a desirable and testable product.

Let’s apply this to a hypothetical situation.

You have an hour and a small budget to bake a cake, what is a more usable output; a single fully-finished cupcake or the unfinished batter of a wedding cake?

By baking a cupcake, you can test and prove the answers to the following:

– Can you bake a simple cake?
– Do you enjoy baking?
– Do people like your cake recipe?

Switching away from the cake analogy to your business idea.

What’s the smallest, usable version you could produce? Once you have created that, you can test and prove the answers to the following questions:

– Can you make a simple version of the product?
– Do you enjoy working on the product?
– Do people like your product?

What does your cupcake look like?

Firstly, have you tested your idea?

Now consider, what is the smallest, but still excellent, version of that.

It could be:
– Online tutorials/course -> Start with a mailing list.
– Selling a range of ethical clothes -> Start with a single product line.
– A design agency -> Start by freelancing.

It’s essential that your values, excellence and passion can still shine through this single ‘cupcake’.

Make your ‘cupcake’, give it away to people, ask for their honest feedback.

Ask yourself, “What could you learn from your baking experience that will get you closer to your ‘wedding cake’ idea?”

So, what is your cupcake?

Rachel Heslop, Content Director

Our in-house wordsmith and head of content at Steadfast Collective.

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