The Naked Restaurant; or, How to Know if Your MVP is Viable
Are you a startup with a new product in development? Great. Now stop developing and find out if you have a market.
Do you have an appetite for dining in the nude? Over 30,000 Londoners apparently do. That’s according to the online waiting list you can find on the website of London’s first naked restaurant.
Sorry, scratch that. The owners describe this as “a naked dining experience”, rather than a restaurant per se. And no wonder. Visit the website and you’ll see this is a pop-up restaurant, meaning it’s only going to be around for 3 months. Tickets are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis (no pun intended). It doesn’t have a menu. Nor is there any real indication of what it will look like besides a rather crude floorplan.
Talk about your minimum viable product! Pop-up restaurants are a great example of the MVP in action, and a salutary lesson in why you need to emphasise the “minimum” part of MVP.
Customer discovery and validation is key
Do you think, if the online waiting list for this dining experience was too low for the owners to make a profit, they’d still go ahead? And if they didn’t, what would they have lost? All they’re selling is the concept. Now they’ve proven there’s a market for it, the product can come later. This is the way successful ventures engage in true customer discovery and validation.
One of the main benefits of a good accelerator program is the work that goes into reviewing and refining a startup’s business model. At Startupbootcamp we do this with our internal experts and our partners, who validate the ideas of the startups we’ve selected. The main focus for us is always the customer. We even use design thinking validation techniques that include empathy analysis to assess the demand.
Even well-developed MVPs need to be validated
Are you doing this? Even with a very well developed MVP, you must still validate. massUp, for example, came to Startupbootcamp with an idea that worked for the German market – a white label product that makes it easier to sell low-value niche insurance policies at a profit. They wanted to validate this offering for other markets. While they might not need to change their product per se, they do now plan on adapting the concept to meet local preferences.
Buzzmove is an online removals agent, providing a search tool that matches vetted removal co’s with people who are moving house. They were storing the inventory data for every home that moved, and we helped them to validate their plan to test this data with insurers to help improve home insurance underwriting and claims, including the design of more personalised offerings.
Strengthening your offering
Fitsense came to us with a great idea to use health data from smartphones and wearables to help physically active diabetics get health insurance at a lower price. When validating the concept, this market proved to be too small for insurers on its own. But by talking to insurers, they worked out there was an appetite to offer more personalised insurance policies, and that they could use the same kind of data to do this. Validation allowed them to strengthen their offering, with what were essentially a few tweaks to their initial business plan.
The details can come later
Remember, a product or service is only as good as the idea behind it is saleable. Make sure you are testing the market, talking to prospective customers before you go too far with development. If the naked restaurant teaches you nothing else, remember this: it’s a great idea – supported by great concepts, customer validated propositions and business models – that sells. The tangible product can come later.