The 12 Week MVP Process

Even if you’re not ready to pair with me for 12 weeks on your product, you can still follow along with the process on your own.

The first 6 weeks of the process are very structured on purpose. The second 6 weeks are much more fluid and dynamic based on the learnings from the first 6 weeks.

Stuck? No problem! Just shoot me an email or a Tweet and I’ll try to get you unstuck!

Week 1

Establish Goals and Assumptions

  • Discuss the vision for the startup. What does the world look like 5 years, 2 years, 1 year, and 6 months from now? (30 min)
  • Set goals for what can we accomplish in 12 weeks that would prove or disprove the model (user growth, revenue, funding). What is the scope of our MVP? (30 min)
  • Discuss the business model. Create a business model or lean canvas together. Each box takes about 10 minutes. (90 min)

Homework: Do personas for all customer segments.

Week 2

Validate Customer Segments

  • Review the personas you created. Are they realistic? Are they too narrow or too broad? Can we even find any of these people? Brainstorm how to find customers to do interviews. (30 min)
  • Conduct customer problem interviews with two sample customers together. I'll interview and you take notes for the first, and then we'll switch. (120 min)
  • Review our findings so far (30 min)

Homework: Interview 10 to 15 more people.

Week 3

Validate Value Proposition and Channels (part 1)

  • Review results of customer interviews from last week. (30 min)
  • Brainstorm channels to test your value proposition. (30 min)
  • Create a basic landing page for a campaign test. (90 min)
  • Setup a campaign to drive traffic to the landing page. (30 min)

Homework: Research your competition. Create a matrix with the two most important differentiating domains, and plot all the competitors and yourself on the matrix.

Week 4

Validate Value Proposition and Channels (part 2)

  • Review results of the first landing page experiment. (30 min)
  • Modify landing page based on findings. (60 min)
  • Create a second campaign to drive traffic to the landing page. (30 min)
  • Review competition research and identify competitive advantage. (30 min)

Homework: Develop a plan to deliver services without software. What resources would you need? How far can it scale without automation?

Week 5

Deepen the Financial Model

  • Review assumptions in financial model. Update based on customer acquisition costs so far. Update based on cost of service delivery without software. (120 min)
  • Identify most painful part of fulfillment process.

Homework: Research tools that automate painful steps, or services we can use.

Week 6

Add the First Automation Pieces

As I write this, I have no idea what your business is, but here are some examples of what we'd probably do next...

  • Connect your sign-up process to a CRM system like Pipedrive.
  • Build some email automation campaigns to walk users through the product.
  • Integrate a payment system, like Stripe.
  • Connect your app to some kind of data charting tool like Google Charts.
  • Integrate with a Shoppify or Etsy account.
  • etc., etc., etc...


At this point in the process, things will need to get a lot more flexible. If you are working with me, we will likely be iterating on any number of product features, customer acquisition funnel components, or financial modeling assumptions. If you are working on your own, maybe check in with me about your progress so far, and I'll give you some ideas.

The agenda would proceed approximately like this...

Week 7, 8, and 9

Focus on Acquisition, Activation, and Retention

  • Iterate on feature set to improve customer acquisition and retention metrics. This is important because we need to make sure you are keeping your cost of acquisition down and keeping your churn as low as possible before focusing on growth.

Week 10, 11, and 12

Focus on LTV and Referral

  • Iterate on feature set to improve customer lifetime value and referral metrics. This is important because we want to create opportunities for your customers to upgrade, buy more, or buy more frequently. We also want to make sure there is a sharing component in the product.

I am here to help.

Don't feel ready to go it alone? Give me a call so I can help you.

Prefer email? That's fine. I am reachable at mcafee . sam at gmail . com