Episode 163 – Lean & MVPs APPLIED: Testing and Iterating Product & Services Ideas to Find Winners!

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In this introspective episode of “The Builders,” host Matt Levenhagen takes a deep dive into the philosophy of lean startups, beyond the surface of initial business launches, and applies it to internal business processes and ventures.

His refreshing take on minimizing risk and fostering innovation through rapid, iterative testing of products and services comes to life through real-life examples drawn from his decades-long experience in the trenches of entrepreneurship and internet marketing.

Matt discusses his journey from testing various special reports to hitting gold with a report on PPC advertising, which eventually morphed into a robust 200-page guide and associated products.

Listen in as he unravels how this lean startup approach allowed him to refine his business strategies over the years, leading to the evolution of his agency and its offerings. Moreover, Matt provides insights into his current suite of plugins developed under Unified Plugins, detailing the lean methodology in action within his product development process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lean startup principles can be effectively applied to product and service innovation within an established business, not just at the startup phase.
  • Rapid, iterative testing with minimum viable products (MVPs) can save time and resources while finding the market fit.
  • A successful product or service can evolve from a simple test, such as Matt's special report on PPC advertising, which grew into a larger, profitable venture.
  • It's essential to gauge the market's response to a product or service before fully committing to its development.
  • A lean approach can be applied to various business areas, from plugins and digital products to services and even marketing strategies.


  • Introduction to Lean Startup Philosophy
    • Matt's inspiration from reading “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
    • Application beyond startup phase to internal business processes and ventures
  • Real-Life Application of Lean Principles
    • Early experiments with special reports
      • Transition from testing various reports to focusing on PPC advertising
      • Evolution of a PPC report into a comprehensive guide and product suite
  • Product and Service Innovation through Lean Startup
    • Concept of minimal viable products (MVPs) and services
    • Rapid, iterative testing and feedback for refinement
  • Lean Startup in Action: Unified Plugins
    • Development and launch of a suite of plugins
    • Application of lean methodologies in product development and iteration
  • Key Takeaways from Matt's Journey
    • Importance of minimal viable products for time and resource efficiency
    • Continuous innovation and adaptation through feedback and testing
    • Lean startup principles as a tool for business strategy refinement
  • Conclusion: Embracing Lean Startup for Business Growth
    • Matt's reflection on the impact of lean startup principles on his business ventures
    • Encouragement for listeners to apply lean startup methodologies in their projects

Click to See Episode Chapters and Timestamp

0:00:00Matt discusses testing different reports and finding a successful one.
0:00:43Matt expands on the successful report and turns it into an ebook.
0:01:18The ebook is updated and expanded over time, becoming a 200-page guide.
0:02:21Matt introduces the concept of the lean startup and its application beyond business.
0:04:04Matt shares his experience with the lean startup approach and how it reinforces existing knowledge.
0:05:18Matt talks about his podcast and scheduling solo episodes.
0:06:34Matt discusses his recent guest appearances on other podcasts.
0:09:21Matt mentions his website where listeners can find his guest appearances.
0:10:34Matt explains the purpose of solo episodes and their relevance to his business.
0:11:00Matt introduces the concept of the lean startup and the uncertainty of launching a product.
0:12:26Matt shares his experience with a million-dollar project and its eventual discontinuation.
0:14:26Matt goes back to 2004-2005 and discusses his early experiences as an internet marketer.
0:15:12Matt shares his experience writing special reports and selling them in online communities.
0:16:25Matt talks about his transition to affiliate marketing and pay per click advertising.
0:17:18Matt discusses the success of his special report on pay per click advertising and the launch of his first membership.
0:18:36Matt explains how the success of the special report led to the creation of multiple memberships and the expansion of his content.
0:19:27Matt emphasizes the importance of testing the market before investing time and effort into a project.
0:21:03Matt reflects on the evolution of his campaign Blast method and the growth of his membership.
0:22:51Matt shares how he iterated and expanded his agency's services based on market feedback.
0:25:06Matt discusses the testing process he went through to find the right services for his agency.
0:26:34Matt talks about the success of his agency's maintenance services for other agencies.
0:27:43Matt explains how he started his podcast with simple episodes and gradually expanded with guest interviews and content distribution.
0:30:09Matt shares his experience of starting a podcast without much planning.
0:31:43Matt talks about the challenges of planning ahead for his podcast episodes.
0:32:58Matt discusses his unsuccessful attempt at promoting the use of Webflow for website building.
0:34:42Matt shares his success with selling full side editing block themes and how it influenced their portfolio.
0:36:01Matt talks about his struggles with list building and the importance of having a niche list.
0:37:44Matt reflects on his past attempts at building an email list and his determination to keep trying.
0:39:23Matt introduces the suite of products he is currently building and selling on unifiedplugins.com.
0:40:46Matt explains the decision to pause the sales of one of their plugins due to a crucial flaw.
0:42:43Matt discusses the different plugins they offer, including unified blocks, unified pop ups, unified access, and unified toolkit.
0:44:10Matt explains the renaming of the plugin unified tweaks to unified toolkit and the reasons behind it.
0:44:53Matt discusses previous projects and the minimal viable approach
0:45:35Matt explains the basic design and copy of the website
0:46:14Matt describes the minimal viable features of the plugins
0:48:04Matt talks about the agile development process and future plans
0:49:58Matt discusses additional features and ideas for the plugins
0:52:11Matt emphasizes the importance of getting the plugins out and gathering feedback
0:53:18Matt mentions the marketing aspect and the use of social media
0:56:34Matt explains the minimal viable approach to social media presence
0:57:46Matt discusses the possibility of expanding successful plugins
0:59:06Matt mentions the plan to test pay per click advertising
0:59:38Matt promotes his main plugin and recommends reading “The Lean Startup” by Eric Rice.
1:00:15Matt shares a story about selling private label products and the success he had with an exit script.
1:01:23Matt advises starting with a minimal viable product or service and testing the market before fully developing an idea.
1:03:17Matt discusses the importance of testing and getting feedback from the market to determine if there is a demand for a product or service.
1:07:14Matt concludes the episode and encourages viewers to test their ideas and products to see if there is a market for them.
1:07:49Matt promotes his agency, Unified Web Design, and invites viewers to reach out for web design and development services.
Matt Levenhagen
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