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Minimum Viable Network

November 2, 2010


The Lean Startup movement has brought the concept of a “minimum viable product” into the mainstream of startup culture and strategy.  Last weekend an entrepreneur I met introduced me to the concept of “minimum viable network.”  In a nutshell, the idea is more or less just that you need a critical mass before a social network becomes useful.  And where,  as with sites like Yelp, the network requires some degree of physical proximity, this critical mass must be obtained in each region the network operates.


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  1. November 7, 2010

    It’s always a good idea / logical to focus and target resources that will cause the highest reaction and interactions, eg: 10 people in one area, vs. 1 person in 10 areas will surely cause a difference in interaction levels (and other metrics will be influenced).

  2. December 15, 2010

    This is a great concept, and seems to be especially true for web-based ventures. Two related terms worth discussing: a site’s “viral coefficient,” and “achieving a point of nondisplacement.” Viral coefficient is the number of new users brought to a site by each existing user. If vc > 1, the site will go viral as people invite friends to join. The Point of Non-displacement is a measure of market ownership – if 70% of your friends are on Facebook, there’s no real point in joining MySpace, for instance.

    This is part of the (somewhat accidental) brilliance of Facebook’s early success – at first they required users to have a Harvard email address, grew virally in a single geographic area until they hit their point of non-displacement. Then they branched out to new schools and knocked them over like dominoes, as people couldn’t wait for Facebook to finally come to their school, or to allow high schoolers to join, or to be open to the public! (What they don’t usually point out is that Facebook created this phased geographic roll-out because their servers couldn’t keep up with a nationwide launch).

  3. January 31, 2011

    It’s extendable to any semantic graph (beyond the v1 semantic graph called Social Nets) as well. In certain cases, it will raise capital intensive barriers to entry which benefit financial investors over founder talent.

  4. November 30, 2012

    I’d like also to thank my friend for giving me the url of your blog.I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.
    Media Buying Agenciess

  5. October 10, 2014

    This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I
    have found something that helped me. Appreciate it!

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