Pop-up Stores: The Perfect MVP

An important milestone when attempting to start a new business is to create something that can be sold (or at least offered) to customers. The goal is to get something in the hands of your customers quickly and then continue to refine the product or service based on their feedback. In lean startup lingo, this is known as a “minimum viable product” or MVP.

For entrepreneurs seeking to launch businesses catering to consumers (e.g., retail establishments, restaurants, etc.), a great way to see what customers think of your product or service is to create a pop-up store. A pop-up store is a temporary retail space that can be used by entrepreneurs to showcase their products or services.

Mike Condia, a recent graduate of the entrepreneurship program at CSUF (class of 2013), provides a perfect illustration of the value of the pop-up store. Mike believes there is an opportunity for brick-and-mortar music stores to make a comeback by leveraging the revival of vinyl records. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars buying inventory, leasing a retail storefront, and hiring employees, Mike launched a pop-up record store.

The store, Rad Cat Records, opened just last week and is located near the Chapman University campus within the Ugly Mug Café in Orange. To get started, Mike needed to spend only enough money to buy 20-30 records and two metal racks to display them. He brought a record player from home so people can listen to the records and uses his smartphone to process credit card transactions.

Pop-up stores have two important advantages. First, pop-up stores allow entrepreneurs to see if people are willing to pay for their products and services. Paying customers are the ultimate validation of a business opportunity. Second, pop-up stores provide a quick and extremely cost-effective way to find out if people really want your product/service and if there are enough of them to create a profitable business. In other words, pop-up stores are the perfect MVP.

Through the Rad Cat Records pop-up store, Mike is not just validating that people want vinyl records, he is also validating his customer segment. By locating so close to a college campus, Mike is making the assumption that college students are much more likely to want to purchase vinyl records than other customer segments.

Rad Cat Records will be open for a month. That should be enough time for Mike to figure out if it makes sense for him to lease his own retail space. In the meanwhile, if you are one of those people who are glad that vinyl is back, head over to Rad Cat Records to show your support!

The preceding was a post from Dr. Atul Teckchandani, one of the great professors teaching Entrepreneurship at CSUF.

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