Alpha, beta and MVP (start-up) launches are the product/customer validation methodologies that help in building confidence to launch the product, and thereby results in the success of the product in the market.
Even though they all rely on real users and different teams feedback, they are driven by distinct processes, strategies, and goals. These three types of testing together increase the success and lifespan of a product in the market.
This is a very early version of a software product that may not contain all of the features that are planned for the final version. In this first launch stage, called alpha launch, is often open to a private audience or to the users within the organization developing the software. This is essentially a private launch and is more like a dry run to test the core usage.
In the context of a fully developed software product, this is a form of internal acceptance testing performed mainly by the in-house software QA and testing teams.
This is a testing stage followed by the internal alpha test cycle. This is the final testing phase the software is released to a few external users. This initial software version is known as the beta version and the objective is to gather user feedback in this release.
In short, the beta launch can be defined as the launch for testing carried out by real users in a real environment.
Despite rigorous in-house quality checks from dedicated test teams, it’s practically impossible to test an application for each and every combination of the test environment. Beta releases make it easier to test the application on thousands of test users and fix the issues before releasing the application to the market.
Start-up launch (MVP launch)
“Lean start-up” methodology favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development. This process uses “minimum viable product” and “pivoting” to validate the idea, as the product is being built.
And, when you launch your MVP, you seek early adopters. These are the people who you need desperately at an early stage to validate and evolve your business model. These are the people who are already trying to solve a pain point that you are trying to address through your business model. Identifying and connecting with your early adopters is the most crucial element in an early-stage business building.
Alpha and beta launch entails a technical validation with private and external users respectively. On the other hand, start-up launch (in the form of a series of MVP launch) entails a business case testing with the real potential target audience.