As an entrepreneur you have probably heard of Minimum Viable Product or MVP, that is the product with the least number of features and only built around solving that problem your market is facing. But have you heard about the Minimum Viable Segment (MVS)?

A lot of entrepreneurs are stuck with the lean method view and have a biased view to the creation of a go-to-market ready product. They just assume if their MVP is great the market will buy it. The opposite, however, is true. As an entrepreneur you strive for a perfect product market fit, but meeting everyone’s needs is only going to drain your resources and instead of limiting your product to the bare minimal requirements you will add features to meet the heterogeneous needs of your market. Ultimately, ending up with a not so MVP.

This could lead to a drainage of resources and increase the chance of a launch failure. The very first reason to build a MVP is to test your product against the market ASAP. So why would you spend more time on making your MVP fit the whole market? A more efficient way, and sometimes implement naturally way is to focus on one customer pain or need that exists within as much segments as possible within your market. By breaking down your market on the basis customer pains and needs you will end up with different groups of customers. By assessing the groups’ market sizes and related minimum product requirements you develop multiple segments. Consider choosing the segment that fits your growth strategy, resources and current product features to further reduce development time and spending resource.

You now have a significant target segment to focus on that can help you test your product against one ‘type’ of customer that you can commit fully on, instead of trying to please all different customers. This way you are able to establish a significant market share in a much shorter time frame.
The importance of finding your MVS lies in the increased chance of being able to dominate and claim leadership in that segment.

“The way it worked for eBay was: Start with collectibles (a market which
was highly affine to the whole flea market idea as the buyers and
sellers were doing it offline for decades). Have a “Other” category.
Monitor this category for trends and once you see enough momentum behind
a specific niche, build the infrastructure to cater to that niche.
That’s how eBay became the largest electronics marketplace, a fashion
retail powerhouse and the biggest car dealer. If you would have asked me
in the early days if we could sell cars or fashion on the site – I
would have declared you insane.”

Well structured video from Harvard Innovation Lab explaining it all: