Startups are emerging across every industry and disrupting even the most traditional sectors. However, only one in ten startups manages to survive. The vast majority of them collapse because the market… doesn’t really need their products or services.
How to avoid the risk of investing your time and money into building a product that nobody really wants? The best battle-tested method is starting out with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP costs less than a full-fledged solution to build, allowing you to study the situation on the market and get valuable feedback from your target audience at a low cost. This is the approach that got companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Amazon all the way to where they are today.
In this article, we’ll zoom in on the process of MVP development to show you the value of building one for your future product, and we’ll guide you how to do it to generate the best results for your business.
What is an MVP?
A Minimum Viable Product is a version of your product that offers only a minimum set of core features. These are the features that actually solve customer problems or help them achieve goals.
The point of building an MVP is to release it with a simple range of functionality and nothing else. This is how you can validate your product idea on the market and get customer feedback as soon as possible. If the reactions of the end-users are promising, you get a strong green light to keep on working on the product and build your customer base.
Are fast market analysis and solid idea validation important to you? Then MVP development is your best friend.
Since an MVP focuses on testing a product’s validity at a low cost, it allows the team to spend less money on its development and deliver the product to the market faster.
7 key benefits of building an MVP
Here’s a list of seven important reasons why it’s beneficial for your business to test-drive your new product by building an MVP:
Polishing the Unique Selling Proposition
Since an MVP focuses on just a single idea, it can’t include any nice-to-have features that distract users from the core offering. The approach of MVP development is closely related to lean startup: building a product with a minimal budget and fixed amount of time in order to test it and implement learnings from testing as quickly as possible (and with as few costs as possible).
Minimum features reduce the cost of app development, allowing you to test your idea for a product with minimal risk.
At the same time, the process of building an MVP allows startup founders to strip their product’s functionalities to the very core and understand their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) much better.
An MVP offers the best approach if you’d like to understand whether your idea is the right fit for your target market. Just because an MVP is a simplified version of your product, it doesn’t mean that it represents your brand poorly.
By allowing users to try out your MVP, you will be showing them why your product is unique in comparison to others in this category. That’s why an MVP is so critical to validating a business idea on the market with real customers. By interacting with your MVP, users will give you lots of valuable feedback that, in turn, allows building a better product and achieving a greater product-market fit.
Target market research
The sooner your product reaches its end-users, the faster you’ll collect and analyze their valuable feedback. This will put you in an advantageous position because of your in-depth understanding of the current situation on the market.
And if your MVP doesn’t find its customers, you will have the time and money left to reconsider your features and change the overall conception.
This is the great benefit of an MVP — your codebase is relatively small, and applying changes won’t generate massive costs.
On the other hand, if you see people getting involved in your project, you can develop other features confidently, knowing that they will be useful for users.
In the worst-case scenario, you can always stop your project to cut losses and be happy that you didn’t spend much more money on building a full-fledged product only to find that nobody really needs it.
Building a feature-rich application takes years of hard work for a full development team. Depending on the number and complexity of the features, its price can increase significantly.
The process of building an MVP is much simpler and cost-effective thanks to the step-by-step, iterative approach to development. Moreover, once your app starts generating revenue, you can easily reinvest it into the development of additional features and keep your product development lean.
Starting out with an MVP puts your project on the pathway to cost efficiency years from the starting point.
If you’re looking to build your startup with external investment from VCs or angel investors, you need to find a way to attract them to your project. An MVP is your best bet.
If you approach investors with a functioning product — even if it’s a simplified MVP — your chances at gathering funds are higher, especially if you test your MVP properly on the market and have the first early adopters on board.
Investors might be afraid of projects that look perfect on paper but don’t bring any more value to the table. That’s why approaching investors with a ready-made MVP that has been tested and validated on the market will inspire more trust.
Another key benefit of a Minimum Viable Product is that it allows you to test the entire concept of your project much faster and easier.
Consider this: If you launch your app with a great number of different features, it will be much harder to adjust it for specific audiences in the future. You might have to kill useless features in which you’ve already invested.
When building an MVP, you develop a small number of features and then find out whether they match the needs and preferences of your users. Then you can improve them, remove them, or develop new features based on the feedback you’ve gathered.
Building customer relationships early on
While user feedback is very valuable and helps to modify the product so that it reflects the users’ priorities better, there’s another benefit that comes from building an MVP. It’s the value of creating a relationship with your customer base right from the start.
An MVP can target early adopters who will give you feedback and tell you what other features your product should have. Once they see that you listen to their feedback, they’re more likely to use your product — and then recommend it to others, becoming your evangelists. This is how you get to start building a solid customer base early on in the process.
How to build an MVP step by step
To build a Minimum Viable Product right, you should follow seven basic steps:
Step 1: Research the market
Market research is the critical first stage of MVP development. It focuses on identifying how your product can stand out from the existing market and fulfill the needs of your target customers just right. You can approach this step in different ways, but be sure to use proven verification methods such as survey questionnaires, which help you to understand the market better.
Naturally, it’s likely that what you’re offering already exists on the market. That’s why it’s crucial that you research your competitors and understand what you’re exactly competing against and how to make your idea more unique.
Step 2: Find your niche
- What problem does your product solve?
- Who would benefit from using your product?
- Why would they turn to you and not your competitors?
These are just a few of the key questions you need to ask yourself at this stage. This is where you focus on creating value for your customer base and formalize your Unique Selling Proposition. Don’t forget that fulfilling the customer needs and preferences is the best way to keep your product development on track.
Step 3: Define the user flow
During this step, you will be stepping into the shoes of your customer. Consider all of the stages that a customer needs to go through in order to solve their problem using your product. By defining this process, you can simplify it and add more value to it.
For example, start by identifying all of the pain points, problems, or inconveniences a user encounters on their way to purchase and write them down. Then compare the pains and gains to generate the key features for your app. Define the user flow to make sure that your product helps its users to solve their problems as efficiently as possible (or at least more efficiently than your competitors!).
Step 4: List product features
At this point, you list all of the features you have in mind for your product. Go through each feature one at a time and focus on establishing its intended purpose and goals.
Brainstorm and gather ideas to get as many features as possible.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to limit the number of ideas or features at this point. Identify all the possible options for completing each and every action inside your product.
Step 5: Prioritize features
Now that you have a complete list of product features, you need to divide them into three categories:
- the core features of your product,
- the should-have features,
- the nice-to-have features.
Take customer experience and desires into consideration when doing that.
The core features are ones that will become part of MVP. You can introduce should-have and nice-to-have features after the MVP launch.
Be sure to constantly ask yourself questions such as:
- How much value does this feature bring to the customer?
- How important is this feature for the process?
- How often will the customer use this future?
Step 6: Develop your MVP
After you prioritize all of your features, the development team can follow your instructions and create the MVP. Note that an MVP is not a substandard version of the final product. An MVP should be just enough to meet customer needs and present the product idea accurately. Make sure that it’s engaging, easy-to-use, and accessible to the users.
Step 7: Test your MVP
Once you complete the development phase, it’s time to launch the testing process.
The first testing stage actually takes place before you release your MVP. It’s called acceptance testing, and it’s carried out by a Quality Assurance specialist. The main goal here is to improve the quality of your MVP before you release it to the market.
Once you deploy the MVP, you can carry out many types of tests that fall into two basic categories:
- internal testing — tests carried out by a limited number of people that should include testing teams and QA engineers,
- external testing — tests carried out by real users in a real environment.
During the final testing phase, the product is always released to external users. This method of testing gives you a chance to get user feedback fast and address the initial problems to reduce the development cost of your product.
We hope that this article helped you understand the value of building an MVP and the role it plays in launching successful digital products.
If you have an idea for an app, get in touch with us. We know how to prioritize issues and build an MVP that delivers value while keeping the development costs down. Our consultants have delivered many MVPs in projects realized for companies operating across various sectors. Below, you’ll find our case study from the digital health sector.
MVP case study – Medtransfer
We have recently partnered with Innocenta Dźwierzyńska, the founder of Mednavi, to create the next revolutionary digital healthcare solution. The application Medtransfer is a platform that enables patients to view and forward their medical documentation (including MRI, coronarography, or ultrasonography results). Doctors can use the platform to easily access and analyze the images, providing their patients with faster diagnoses.
The main challenge of building the MVP of Medtransfer was finding a solution for transferring large files quickly and securely. Our team also focused on providing an excellent user experience and designing a user-friendly, intuitive platform.
“[…] I needed someone to guide me through the technical details, help me select the right technologies for the platform, and then simply build it. I found all of that at Codete. They have become the technological partner for Medtransfer, and I’m very happy with our cooperation. They have solid tech-know how, excellent engineers, and amazing communication skills, all of which make the collaboration exciting and fruitful. I’m looking forward to continuing our work together on new features planned for the platform.”
— Innocenta Dźwierzyńska, Founder of Mednavi (medical navigation platform for how and where to treat cancer) and Medtransfer
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