So many good things start with just an idea. But how can you be sure? What if you invest a lot of time in an idea, only to find out there’s no market for it?
Or what if you're sure of what you have in mind, but you can't convince others to believe in you? As you surely know, it takes more than just one person to start a business. You need team members and investors, and they should be convinced.
That's why you need a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP app lets you test your startup idea and find potential flaws with minimum time and costs.
Keep reading as we explore the idea of MVP development for startups, the steps you should take, and how you can get help.
What’s an MVP?
A Minimum Viable Product is essentially a smaller version of your final app idea. It only lets users do the most important things they need done without bells or whistles.
The idea is that if people are willing to pay you for an app that solves their problem in the most basic way possible, they’ll pay you for extra features and a better user experience. On the other hand, if no one takes out their wallet for the MVP, they probably won’t be excited about a more feature-packed version.
Essentially, you identify the riskiest parts of your idea (solving customer problems) and develop an app that addresses those risks. If you manage to convince customers to pay you for using that limited app, you consider expanding. Otherwise, you should consider changing directions or closing up shop.
Remember that even if your app is in the MVP stage, it shouldn’t be buggy. It has to be built using the right software development practices and work seamlessly. In other words, although your MVP doesn’t do as much as you like it to do, it works without glitches.
Why Do Startups Need an MVP?
The idea of an MVP might seem counterintuitive at first, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
You see, startups are risky; success is never guaranteed. Your business can only succeed if it generates enough revenue to cover costs and turn a profit. And people are only willing to pay you if you solve a problem for them.
So, how can you avoid wasting your time and money while trying to figure out if your idea has potential?
You need an MVP: an app with the very core of your ideas—the features that solve the customer’s problem and make their life easier. You give that app to a group of early adopters, people whose problem is more intense.
If the MVP receives a lukewarm response, can you really expect customers to get excited over a more attractive UI or a social signup feature? Probably not!
In contrast, if your early adopters seem interested and stick around to use the app more frequently, you’ve probably tapped into something worth investing in, especially if new users keep signing up.
In this case, other investors might now be interested in what you have. And you’ve managed to reach this point without breaking the bank.
Steps to Building an MVP
MVP development is as important as designing the end product—if not more important. That’s because it lets you measure your idea’s potential and attract investors.
Now, let’s cover the steps you need to take to create your MVP.
1. Identify the Problem You Want to Solve
All startup ideas start when someone or a group of people discover a problem without a solution. Or there might be a solution, but it's not an effective one. However, just because you don't find an answer, it doesn't mean there's none.
You need to conduct deep research and see if others need your new product or service.
2. Research Your Potential Market and Customers
Lack of revenue is one of the most common reasons why many startups fail. They simply can’t find customers who’d pay for their product.
So, you need to identify your target users, and more importantly, estimate the market size. People should want to use your app or service and spend money on it.
You also need to analyze your competitors to know what they offer, what they don't, and how they offer it. After all, you want to do things differently and more effectively.
3. Write Down Your UX Flow
Write down how your user can reach their goal step by step. For example, if you’re developing an app for people to buy local food, your users should first see a list of restaurants. Then they should select the foods they want and input their preferences and location. Finally, you need the check out page where people pay for their food.
4. Identify Your Product's Core Features
Now, remember you’re developing an MVP, not your final product. You only need to test the app's core features and make sure your target audience finds it useful.
So, identify and prioritize the essential qualities and eliminate the features that are nice to have or make the app fancy.
Don't lie to yourself. You have a limited budget and so many things to achieve. So, if you can’t decide what to keep and what to cut, ask a trusted friend or an expert. They're not as attached to the idea as much as you are.
5. Design a Prototype
Now, hold on! Isn't an MVP like a prototype?
Well, it's not.
A prototype helps you visualize your ideas, while an MVP would be the basic product for your early adopters. In other words, your prototype is just a rough sketch of what your app will look like, but the MVP is the actual app that your initial customers will be using.
6. Develop the Product
Now you and your team should start developing the product. This stage involves a lot of collaboration between designers, developers, and marketers. Be thorough and constantly communicate with your team. You can also consider enlisting help from an MVP development service to expedite the process. More on this later.
7. Launch Your MVP and Keep Iterating
Now you have an MVP in your hand. First, ensure that your product doesn't have any problems by final testing. After you resolve possible issues, it's time to launch the MVP.
You’ll need to let people know that your MVP is available and how they can obtain it. Depending on your audience, you can try running ads or publishing news articles about the launch.
Don't forget that you still need to do your research. Collect the data and feedback your customers provide and continue fixing the issues. It's like a loop, new data and feedback keep coming, and you need to never give up on improving.
However, don’t expect to generate revenue from the first day. Instead, measure people’s interest in your product using metrics such as the number of downloads or usage frequency. As you gain more loyal users, revenue is bound to come.
Mistakes to Avoid in the MVP Development Process
It's not just you who has a million-dollar idea. Eureka moments strike everyone. So, you need to be extra careful because you don’t want to end up with a failed venture.
Avoid these mistakes to increase your chances of success.
1. Going After the Wrong Problem
Time is your most precious resource. You don't want to spend months developing an app only to see it fail.
Try to answer these questions before committing to an idea:
- What’s the problem that you want to solve?
- Who is going to use the app?
- Is your app the right solution for the problem?
2. Failing to Develop a Prototype
As mentioned, your prototype represents the flows in your app using sketches. It’s not a fully functional product, but it’s an essential part of developing one as it can show your ideas and your MVP's user experience. Creating a prototype also helps uncover the flaws in your idea.
3. Forgetting What You're Designing
Yes, an MVP is supposed to show your core ideas, but it's still a product. Don't forget that early adopters will use this MVP, and they'll do it for a reason—to solve a specific problem.
Yet, some startup founders forget the purpose of an MVP and go for a detailed design. Avoid developing a full-fledged product and instead, aim to design as little as possible but no less.
4. Not Collecting the Right Feedback
The feedback received from users is the basis for designing your end product. When you want to analyze the data, you should do so with your target audience in mind. Don't ask everyone you know just because you're desperate to get users.
Also, a good filtering system can save your business. Too much data can confuse you and waste your time. You don't need to evaluate all the addressed issues and fix all the complaints, just the ones that help you improve the end product's user experience and generate more revenue.
5. Iterating Slowly
Startups are famous for their fresh ideas and fast growth. Once you collect user feedback, address the issues as quickly as possible and let your users work with the improved version of your app. Never aim for perfection!
If you want to turn your idea into a big thing, you need to move fast from one iteration to another. When necessary, you need to change your strategies.
6. Choosing the Wrong Team Members
No one can develop an MVP on their own. However, bad team members can make you regret what you started.
Of course, you can't expect everyone to agree with you, and they can't just magically make the problems go away. But they should be able to help you and share your vision.
That's why most people just choose their initial team members from their friends, family members, and relatives.
But they're not usually experts in different areas. You need team members who specialize in marketing, software development, and design, just to name a few. So try to expand your search and find people outside your inner circle.
7. Hiring Too Many People
On the flip side, remember that you’re still in the MVP stage, where you’re more likely to fail than succeed. So it’s not wise to hire too many people and burn through your capital quickly.
More people mean more ideas, and while it may feel like a good thing, in the beginning, it can hurt your startup in the long-term.
You Need a Partner to Develop Your MVP
Budget aside, developing an application, even an MVP, requires expertise. That’s why having a reliable business partner by your side can be reassuring.
There will be times when you feel stuck and don't know what to do from a technical point of view. An MVP application development service has extensive experience in the area. They can give you the right advice and accelerate software development as their team would closely work with you.