(Note: RightBonus is in closed alpha at the moment. Trying to have a beta release ready by early April.)
Eliza and I are strong believers in Lean Startup methods and "getting real" so we spent the first month of full-time work on RightBonus nailing down our MVP (Minimal Viable Product) feature set. Our goal was to deliver a version of our application with a minimal feature set to our initial alpha customers as soon as possible.
First, a definition: the minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
Eric Ries - Minimal Viable Product: a guide
Earlier this week we deployed our Alpha release and are considering it our first true MVP version. The major features: 1) being able to nominate a fellow employee for an award and 2) upvoting, are present and working. Supporting functionality around creating a company network and getting your employees onto it as an administrator are also in place.
Stuff that's notably missing? Copy! I cringe as I use our internal deployment and realize that the forms are barebones and missing vital instructions and overall user-friendliness. That aspect will be addressed in the next couple of weeks.
To close this post on a celebratory note, I must mention that earlier this week we signed up our first customer to trial the app and provide actionable feedback, a major milestone for any young web startup. Early next week I'll be identifying a few more enthusiastic early adopter companies to bring aboard as alpha customers also. Then the real fun begins: Continuing to iterate rapidly while incorporating real customer feedback into the loop.