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How to Choose your Features for an MVP

how to choose the right features for MVP

Coming up with the right set of features for an MVP is a pressure-filled task. If your MVP doesn't succeed, convincing anyone to continue investing in your product (or company) is an uphill battle. Your team's once strongly held opinions are revealed to be guesses and you are left wondering, "how many more guesses can we afford?" Without clear criteria for what feature ideas will deliver customer value, your MVP could end up looking like a hodge-podge of half-baked ideas, leaving you with a product no one needs and zero runway to burn.

We sat down with JP Luchetti, CEO of Yolion, a startup that helps consumers get more value out of what they spend. Yolion is an app that helps UK families get better value for money in their everyday spending and household bills seamlessly. All Yolion users need to do is connect their bank account to the app, and then the savings start rolling inWe talked to JP about how he and his team used Jobs-to-be-Done to understand and quantify customer needs, generate and filter ideas for their MVP, and deliver a prototype that wowed users.

Here’s the tl;dr:

  • Yolion identified and prioritized the unmet needs of consumers in the UK who wanted to get more value for what they spent
  • They found a market segment of 9M households in the UK that struggle to get the job done
  • With a clear understanding of customer problems, they designed and built a prototype of an MVP that eliminated Job Steps for users
  • Along the way the product, technology, commercial and marketing teams with aligned around a empathy for their customers, criteria for good feature ideas, and a common language based on Jobs-to-be-Done.

Read on to find out how Yolion achieved all of this.

jp-yolion JP Luchetti, CEO, Yolion

 

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced before implementing jobs-to-be-done?

When we first started building the product strategy, we were basically in diapers. We had a gut feeling about the things that would work and knew it would eventually come together, but we weren’t clear on how that was going to happen.

Our team had an idea of what the value proposition would be, but couldn’t articulate who our client was or what they were struggling with. We also didn’t have a good understanding of who the competition was and what they were good at solving.

We had actually tried Jobs-to-be-Done a couple of years ago, but we didn’t understand how to implement it. For us, figuring out the job was easy - we wanted to help people get the most of out their money. But understanding the customer’s job steps it took to get there was unclear. This is what thrv helped us do.

 

What were some of the biggest takeaways from the Jobs-to-be-Done process?

Jobs-to-be-Done gave us the confidence to move away from building what is easy and makes sense to what we know will drive value and an MVP that defies conventional approaches. It gave the team (product, tech, marketing, etc.) a clear understanding of who our customer is, what they are trying to do, and where they are struggling.  It gave us a very clear understanding of the market, allowed us to see where the gaps were and showed us how to build a product that filled those gaps.

 

How did you find those gaps in the market?

We found out that the competition was focused on helping people get the job done as opposed to just doing the job for them. We saw an opportunity to move away from helping our customers to just doing it for them completely. Instead of building a comprehensive product that helps people get the job done, we could build a very narrow product that gets the job done with minimal time and effort on the user side - a great MVP to define a footprint and grow from.

Some of the unmet needs we found were that customers were:

  • In the dark about their spending
  • Looking for alternatives with better value and especially quick-wins
  • Struggling to make changes or adopt new behaviors
  • Unsure whether they are better off after making a change
  • Unsure whether the changes they have made are enough
  • Struggling to adjust the new solution to better fit their needs

thrv and jobs-to-be-done not only helped us define our market and unmet needs, but it also helped with market segmentation. That market segmentation gave us the ability to say, “This is a group of people who are willing to provide data to get the job done.” Before that, I couldn’t paint a picture of who our target customer was. And honestly, I couldn’t answer one of the key questions you get in banking which is “How are you going to get people to trust you?” Before we had the results of the survey, I didn’t even want to get into that ring. I would shut down conversations.

Today, we have a very clear understanding of who our target customer is. This is the group of people who have articulated their struggle the most and provide the greatest opportunity in the market.

When we show them the product, they can quickly articulate our value and show a willingness to pay because they understand what we are doing.

 

What was one of the biggest breakthroughs you had in the process?

After identifying the market and customers, we mapped out the job steps and had a visual of what we had to do for the customer. The major breakthrough came when we realized we didn’t want to help the customer do the job steps - we wanted to do get the job done for them. We wanted to kill steps in the process completely. Seeing people interact with the product and reactive so positively was validation for us.

The conventional way to tackle our problem would be to show someone how much they spend on groceries and create anxiety by pointing out opportunities to save.

The Yolion way is to analyze your behavior through your spend data coming from OBP and then activate offers on the merchant you already visit. This way we seamlessly make it more affordable to spend with the merchant you already love.

Having the ultimate JTBD focus changed our point of view of what the job steps were for. A particular job step (e.g. “see where you spend”) is not valuable in and of itself, it’s only valuable insofar as it helps our customer get the job done. If we can get it done for the customer, then we will do that.

From there, we just got laser-focused on what we needed to build. Although many people on the team initially thought to build a dashboard, when we asked “is that the fastest way to get the most value for what you spend?” the answer was obvious--no. Just viewing data left a lot of manual work for our customers to achieve their goals.

 

How did you get the entire company aligned with this new approach?

Getting people on the same page can be a huge challenge. We had a lot of people who were very adamant about what they thought the product was going to be. When we did get that pushback on including the dashboard, we relied on customer testing to provide evidence that was inarguable.

When we showed customers the dashboard, many responded that they thought we were a budgeting app, which we had agreed as a team was not the job we were targeting. We are a savings app and something about the dashboard communicated “budgeting.”

We compiled videos to make sure our team could see how people were reacting. We wanted to remove opinions and only focus on the evidence.

Jobs-to-be-Done gives you ammunition to articulate exactly what you need to build.

 

How will JTBD help you in the future?

Moving forward, we now have clear criteria of how we make decisions has empowered the team.

When someone brings up a new idea, we put it in a list and look at which customer needs in the job it fits and how well it could meet them. It’s a great way of being able to evaluate ideas quickly and with little emotion. That’s one of the key things we learned from the jobs-to-be-done process. We’ve moved away from subjective comments about what features our employees like or don’t like and instead focus on how quickly and accurately they get the job done.

Previously, the subjectivity would cause so many problems because once you verbalize an idea, you’ve fallen in love with it. Anyone that comments on the idea you just verbalized, it feels like they’re talking about you. Jobs-to-be-done gives the team the ability to look at their ideas before they talk about them. It helps you be less subjective about your own ideas as well.

Without the JTBD process, we would have built a monster. It was complicated, twisted. Now, the product is just so simple.

At the end of the day, identifying the job wasn’t the revelation. The revelation was finding the gaps that the competition wasn’t doing in the job. We killed steps entire job steps for our customers. If we hadn’t broken down the job steps, we wouldn’t have seen the gaps. And then we wouldn’t have been able to determine the value our product could deliver to the customer.

A lot of people have this idea that once they figure out what the job is, people are going to be blown away, it’s going to be a totally disruptive thing and we’re going to have to back up what the job is. But to us the job was obvious. What wasn’t obvious is how we’re going to get it done. What features would we build for the MVP? How would we back-up our roadmap? The JTBD process helped us get there.

Jobs-to-be-Done is the perfect ammunition you need to execute a perfect product strategy.

Our strategy is centered on the JOB and how we get it done. The product is not an amalgamation of features that make sense. The product strategy is not a backlog of features or changes to be implemented in time. Our product is ONE THING, clearly defined and very, very simple.

If we would have launched early based on opinions, we would be out of money by now. But we’re not. We have a series of market data points that support what we are building. There is a level of confidence in the team that you cannot pay for. The product team is talking at a different level and they know why and what they’re building.

Breena Fain

Posted by Breena Fain

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