Exercise: 60 Minute MVP
Imagine looking out at your classroom, and every student is talking and typing furiously. It’s noisy. Students are learning together and teaching each other.
There’s a buzz of nervousness and excitement!
This is by far, one of Justin and my favorite in-class experiences because “60 Minute MVP” is engaging, fun, and fully-immersive, while teaching critical aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Your students are going to build, and launch, an MVP in 60 minutes…with no technical expertise!
In fact, during this hour, your students will build…
A Landing Page
A simple website that describes the problem they’re solving to the customers they want to serve.
An Explainer Video
A quick video that hints how their solution will solve the problem.
And a Currency Test…
…to validate demand for their product!
Your students will learn how to use a service called Celery to take pre-orders for their products to demonstrate real demand, without them actually having to charge money/store credit card information/etc.
And they’ll do it all, in an hour.
What are Landing Page MVPs?
Over the course of an hour, your students will create a landing page (a simple, single-page website) that:
- Tells their customers the problem their team is solving,
- Uses a video to demonstrate how the team will solve the problem and
- Asks for some form of “currency” from their customers to validate demand.
You can incorporate this exercise into one class period in your syllabus; push your students to complete every step within an hour. They can tweak things later, the important thing is that they don’t spend a ton of time trying to get everything perfect the first time around. As they will find later on, doing that for every experiment wastes a lot of time.
It’s important to note, for this exercise:
They’ll Learn More in 60 Minutes
…than they will in 6 hours of lectures:
- The true meaning of MVP. They will learn exactly how “minimum” a minimum viable product should be. MVP doesn’t mean “beta” – it means making the least amount of investment possible, to test a business model’s riskiest assumption.
- How much they can accomplish when they work as a team. By dividing and conquering, your students will be astounded at how much they can collectively accomplish in one hour.
- How many great, free tools exist for entrepreneurs. The internet is a crowded place, so we want to show them that there are free tools out there to help them develop skills they don’t yet possess.
- The upside of deadlines. Our students don’t usually work under tight deadlines, but they will soon! We want to show them how tight deadlines push them to get everything done and give them a positive experience executing under tight deadlines.
- It is easier to launch a product than they thought. Most of our students are overwhelmed at the idea of launching a product because their assumptions are wrong. We want to correct those assumptions so they believe in their ability to launch.
- That the easiest thing about building a business is launching the product. In a future post, we will explain that the most difficult part of launching is actually the testing and validation. Getting something into the world is quite easy, which your students will understand after this experience.
Most importantly, they will learn…
When it comes to MVPs, done is better than perfect.
Your Job in the Class
You have an important role during this exercise. While we’ve documented all of the instructions your students need to follow (see the lesson plan for details), you’ll need to be the chief cheerleader, time-keeper, and discussion leader.
Here’s what that entails:
- Give your students the instructional videos. We’ve recorded step-by-step videos for your student teams to follow when creating their MVPs. Links to the videos and instructions are provided in the lesson plan below.
- Play music. Ask them what music gets them pumped, and then play that. Create an energetic, intense, exciting environment for the students.
- Keep shouting how little time they have left. Create a sense of urgency; don’t write time on the board. Don’t announce it in your normal tone. Shout it, wave your hands; stress how important it is that something gets launched, even if it’s not the perfect something. It is likely your students will want to focus on minor technical or design details. Because the goal is to execute in 60 minutes, you need to refocus your students on that goal and steer them away from their inclination toward perfection. Remind them that:
“Done is better than perfect.”
- Celebrate the hell out of each MVP as it launches. Show each team’s MVP on the screen, and congratulate them on the incredible things they accomplished in 60 minutes.
- Host a discussion with your students about what it was like to build an MVP in 60 minutes. You’ll find your students reflect most, if not all, of the learning objectives listed above.
Note: when they step out of their comfort zone, they’ll get the most out of this exercise.
Full Class Engagement
If you’re looking for an immersive exercise that activates your class, complete with a chaotic, noisy, high-pressure environment, that teaches real entrepreneurial principles, give “60 Minute MVP” a shot.
Justin and I both love it. We think you, and your students, will will too 🙂
Complete details, including all the instructions for you, and videos for your students are in the lesson plan below.
Get the “60 Minute MVP” Lesson Plan
We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “60 Minute MVP” exercise walk you, and your students through the process, step-by-step.
It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.
All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!
In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!
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20 thoughts on “Exercise: 60 Minute MVP”
This looks very exciting. I love the bold, unapologetic way you just move on.
Thank you Kevin! We think teaching entrepreneurship should be a realistic experience for students, so they get an accurate preview of what is to come.
Love this approach, pressure cooking actions works so well 👍🏻 have been testing various ways to do the same format, but never managed to get below 3 hours, excited to try this with the team🚀 Thanks so much🙏🏻
We’re so glad it can be useful for your team Otto! Please let us know if we can help with anything else, and please shoot us feedback on how it goes
Doan, this is a GREAT article! Thanks for sharing!
Marc – it is a pleasure to share it. Please give us any feedback to improve it, and if you use it in any settings, please share your experience with us
Doan… I love this activity. I will certainly integrate it into my fall classes. We do bits and pieces of this, but not all three in 60 minutes.. outstanding.
Andy – your students would get so much out of this exercise, and with your energy at the helm it would go really well. If you do use it, please share their landing pages and let us know how it goes
I used the MVP exercise this week in my Intro to Entrepreneurship class. They’ve been working in groups all semester developing a business and have produced several outputs (pitches, press kit, five-forces model, guerrilla marketing campaign, skills profiles for each team member, etc.), so this allowed them to incorporate a number of those components.
We did have a few technical glitches. I previewed everything last week but then when students went to unbounce, the free trial that allowed them access without putting in credit card information was gone. One student googled “unbounce demo account” and then they were able to use it without supplying credit card info.
Overall it was a great success. Again, these team members have been working together all semester, but this was different. They had to work through a few fits and disagreements to get it done. Several were shacking their heads no at the 10 minutes to go warning, but they all made it. The best lesson learned was probably perseverance.
Thank you for allowing me to use it.
Thanks for the comment, and the heads up about Unbounce! We’ve updated the instructions to help students find the new link to the demo accounts.
Btw, we’d love to see some of your students’ landing pages!
I just came back from running this exercise in my class. It was fun for me and for my students – the energy was incredible, they were loving it and had such huge smiles on their faces.
I have to admit that I did change some parts of it. My biggest problem was with Unbounce. I tried it out on my own this past weekend and found the interface really confusing. I watched Justin’s video and could not work out how he got the editing toolbar at the bottom to popup at 2mins31, no matter how many times I replayed it. I’m no tech dinosaur but it was painful to edit text and I got so stressed out about it, and had made so little progress during 30 minutes, that I almost gave up on the entire thing. I had recommended the exercise to a friend at Dalhousie U, and his feedback was that students had struggled to set up the landing page and that a more intuitive site, like Wix.com, might be better. So that’s what I decided to do.
I played around with Wix and was delighted by the ease of use, walkthrough tutorials, multiple add-ins and beautiful templates. Although not able to integrate Mail Chimp, Calendly nor Celery into the site (tho’ I believe there are workarounds out there if you look), Wix has a whole host of apps which can do these things anyway, i.e., collect subscriber names and set up one-on-one meeting times, so I asked students to use the Wix tools instead. YouTube videos could easily be added too so I was able to let students loose on Powtoon. The only thing Wix couldn’t do was pre-orders, but I was happy to give that up in exchange for the ease of set up. As an alternative, I asked the students to make sure their site could take credit card and PayPal payments.
OK, so I hacked your instructions a bit, but I’m truly thankful for allowing me to use this.
I’ll definitely be coming back to fill my syllabus with your experiential exercises when I teach this class again in Fall 2018.
Please check out my students’ landing pages via Twitter – search for #60MinuteMVP and #NUBiz
Thanks for using the lesson, and the incredible feedback Samantha!
We’ll look into Wix. Perhaps there’s a way to integrate Celery and we can have the best of both worlds!
I did the exercise today. And after a few times using unbounce, I followed the new suggestion as it seemed more attractive, easier etc.
Unfortunately, my students didn’t get the ADI prompt and started building their landing pages manually… which took them too much time so we couldn’t launch in 60 min.
For some of them it worked in a second attempt, for others not. Part of the problem could be login with Facebook and/ or German language settings/ geo-tagging…
To me it seems the ADI is the key value-added of Wix and without it, it is at least less useful for a 60 minutes exercise 🙁
Did anyone experience similar issues with the ADI?
Hi Florian, thanks for the feedback!
We moved away from Unbounce because they now require a credit card for all new accounts and we didn’t want students to go through that hassle.
Great feedback on the lack of ADI capabilities. Instead of an ADI option, did your students have the option to pick a template?
If so, maybe we can add a note to the effect that if the ADI option isn’t available students should pick an appropriate template.
Regarding students not being able to launch in 60 minutes, can you tell me more about why they couldn’t? What was stopping them? If there was no template for them to start from, that makes sense why it would be hard.
If however they started with a template, it’s possible to “launch” a landing page, with a video and a currency test in < 10 minutes, so I'd love to know what was holding them back. Virtually every team I've done this exercise with has "launched" something. They're ugly, the marketing copy isn't right or finished, and the first version never converts any customers, but it's "launched" and ready to be iterated on, which is the point of the exercise: to show students that even if they don't have coding skills, they can publish something that they can start experimenting with. Like I say, I'd love to know more about what was preventing your students from launching.
Greetings Justin. I’m priming up to propose this to my Lean Entrepreneurship Project class. I have 50 students from all over Europe – majority German. They are all master students in business (not techies)I read through it all a few times and this week I will go through all the steps. Any further insights? (I really enjoyed the comments here.)
As long as you go through it ahead of time, and remember that “done is better than perfect”, you’ll be all set. Have fun!
Thank you for this exercise. I am going to do it with my students at Entrepreneurship course.
At the previous classes we went through exercise for idea creation and business model canvas exercise so they already have ideas for their products/service. The next step will be this exercise.
We have online class on zoom and I will separate them into 7 groups (4 students per group). My question is: Is it possible that all subgroups of one group do their tasks at the same time (because they are all at home and have their own laptops) or we cannot do updates on Landing page at the same time from different computers.
Thanks in advance for help.
They should be able to share the username and password for their landing page with one another and update their landing pages separately.
Alternatively, one person can be in charge of the landing page and while sharing their screen, the other team members can advise how to update it.
Best of luck!
Dear Justin, thank you so much. I am looking forward to see how this will work. Best regards