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Unpacking MLP with Mumbai Vada Pav, Nokia, and WhatsApp

In the ever-evolving landscape of product development, the age of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is coming to an end. While once considered the gold standard for product validation, MVP's efficacy has diminished over time, leaving businesses searching for a new approach. Enter Most Lovable Product (MLP) - the new paradigm for creating products that not only solve problems but also delight and satisfy customers. It is crucial for businesses to prioritize making their MVP not only viable but also lovable to the customers.

In today's fast-paced technology-driven world, businesses face unprecedented challenges to deliver innovative products that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. To keep up with changing market dynamics, the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has gained immense popularity in recent years.

MVP is a product development approach that emphasizes the development of a product with the minimum set of features required to validate its market viability. While MVP has proven to be an effective way to quickly validate a product idea and get it to market, it has also been observed that the efficacy of MVP diminishes over time, especially in the face of rapidly changing market dynamics.

To address this challenge, the concept of the Most Lovable Product (MLP) has emerged. MLP is a product development approach that focuses on developing a product with not just the minimum features required for market viability but also those that are essential for customer satisfaction and delight. In other words, an MLP is designed to be not just viable but also lovable.

Developing an MLP requires a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences. It involves extensive research, testing, validation, and an empathetic approach to identify the features and functionalities customers value most. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and delight, businesses can not only create products that are more likely to succeed in the market but also build stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.

In conclusion, while MVP has been a popular approach to product development, it may not always be the most effective in today's dynamic market environment. Developing an MLP requires a customer-centric approach that prioritizes satisfaction and delight, which can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and build long-term success.

The Vada-Pav Story

Indian meals usually include curry and bread, but it can be challenging to eat on the go or take out without creating a mess. However, Vada-Pav has gained immense popularity in Indian cities such as Mumbai because it offers a fulfilling curry-and-bread experience, especially for the working class and laborers, without any mess, at an affordable cost. With various custom options depending on the setup, Vada-Pav has become a beloved food item in Mumbai, earning the city's nickname "Mumbai Runs on Vada-Pav."

Originally introduced as a Minimum Viable Product, Vada-Pav has undergone numerous variations and improvements over time, keeping it Mumbai's Most Lovable Product for several decades.

Once upon a time, Nokia was a leader

Image Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Early-generation mobile phones, commonly known as feature phones, served the purpose of enabling on-the-go communication through voice and text. However, with the advent of smartphones, mobile phone usage was revolutionized, quickly becoming an indispensable part of our daily lives. As a result, consumer preferences shifted significantly from feature phones to smartphones, which became the new Most Lovable Product.

Smartphones not only outcompeted feature phones, but also took over the MLP status of various other products in the market, such as media players, cameras, calculators, calendars, flashlights, business cards, wallets, checkbooks, maps, and more.


When developing a new product, the choice between the MVP or MLP approach depends on various factors such as the target market and the product itself. While an MVP may be sufficient for an entirely new idea or concept, it may require constant increments to enhance usability and retain the MLP status. On the other hand, to compete with existing products in the market, an MLP approach is essential to make a great first impression, sustain growth, and become the most lovable product in the segment. However, it is worth noting that developing an MLP often requires a higher seed fund investment than delivering an MVP. Ultimately, the choice between the MVP or MLP approach should be based on the specific needs and goals of the product and the target market.

Design Approach

When designing a Minimum Viable Product, it is crucial to consider all aspects of the product offerings. Partial or single considerations may not lead to a positive Return on Investment (ROI). While focusing on the foundational aspects, it is equally important to constantly delight the customer/user with every release. Each increment should aim to improve the user's experience and make their life better. To achieve this, user stories must be written from the consumer's point of view, enabling a deep understanding of their needs and requirements. By adopting such an approach, the MVP can deliver a high-quality user experience, which is essential for achieving long-term success and reaching MLP status.

What’s up, WhatsApp?

Image credit:

Initially launched as a Minimum Viable Product, WhatsApp allowed two individuals to communicate via the internet using text and media sharing functionality. With every release, the product has been upgraded to improve usability, which has delighted its customers. This approach has helped to create a large pool of loyal users and has cemented WhatsApp's strong market position over the years.

WhatsApp Major Feature Release between 2009 and 2022:

WhatsApp User Growth chart:
Credit: Statista

Can the MVP also be the MLP?

It is indeed possible for an MVP to evolve into an MLP as the MVP is intended to be a starting point that can be further developed and enhanced over time to meet customer needs and preferences. By gathering feedback from early adopters, an MVP can validate a product idea, and provide insights that can be used to improve the product to make it more valuable and appealing to customers. Thus, the MVP serves as a crucial stepping stone toward creating an MLP. However, it is important to bear in mind that not all MVPs will inevitably become MLPs, and the success of the MVP depends on factors such as market fit, customer requirements, and competition in the market.

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