What is MVP?
Let’s start by explaining what an MVP actually is. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a term used to describe the first draft of a product, whose purpose is testing. Minimum means that the product needs to have a minimum amount of features and has to be working on a minimum level. On the technical side, MVP doesn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing nor cool. It has to be a snippet of its full potential, so when developing MVP it’s advised to focus on the most important feature (or features) that will make your product stand out. Product differentiators, if you will.
It all starts with an idea
Every startuper needs to understand that even with an amazingly made MVP, they may fail. And it’s all because of the idea - each startup’s success starts and finishes with the idea. If the concept was never really good, there won’t be any customers and you won’t make any profit. There’s no good recipe for an amazing business idea - because if there was, we would all be rich and famous. There are however ways of testing your idea to make sure it has some potential.
Research, analyze, and research again
Let’s say you’ve got a brilliant idea. Now there’s a lot of work ahead of you. The first important question is: does your idea provide a solution to a real-life problem? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track. Think deeply about your potential customers - would they really need your product? How would they benefit from it? You need to write all of these ideas down - the more, the better. It’ll be useful in the development stage.
It’s extremely important to do market research and analysis. Confront your problem and the idea of the market. Try to find other companies that work in the same industry and discover your niche. Then analyze the demographics of your prospects and tailor the offer to their needs. Note that by copying someone else you won’t make any profit. Only by doing something better or different will you stand out and gain customers.
The process of making MVP
It’s definitely better and more common to use outsourcing when developing your MVP. At the start of your startup, you’re probably dealing with a tight budget. Hiring an in-house team of developers would drain your finances. But the biggest advantage of having a dedicated software house for your project is that you gain skilled specialists that can help you with business strategy, market analysis, and prospects. With their insight, your MVP has a much better chance of being successful.
Before you start hiring people for the development of your MVP, you need to establish your budget. Some MVPs are cheap because they’re made like landing pages and their functions are limited only to signing up. These types of MVPs can work for some occasions i.e. with a limited budget and a small number of functions. On the other hand, there are MVPs that are almost as good as the final product only lacking final adjustments.
If you’re trying to test out your idea, which is the actual purpose of any MVP, you don’t need to splurge on it. Be rational. At the end of the day the startup way of doing business is all about small steps and making improvements. So it’s definitely better to release a limited but functional and ready for improvement MVP than to release an expensive app without testing it and fail in the beginning.
If you want to save money, here’s your chance. MVP is used for getting investors, not for making you broke.
Choosing the right features
When and where to release?
The development process of an MVP can take up to three months, depending on the complexity of the project and the abilities of your team. However, the goal of this process is to deliver as fast as possible. After all, you want to start testing ASAP.
Once the product is ready you have two options for the release. Either you’re using a marketing company to provide you with testers, or you’re doing it on your own. Thanks to the market analysis, you already know your prospects and should be able to get their attention. The easiest way to go is to scout them on the internet (groups, forums) and simply ask them for help offering a free product in return.
Karol, CEO of ULAN Software & BOWWE.com, is a distinguished leader with a dual degree in CS and Marketing. With a background in FinTech, eCommerce, and Startups, his experience spans over 7 years in the Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese banking sectors, contributing to major institutions. With 11 years in SME eCommerce, he's advised 500+ companies globally and is a World Bank Group speaker. Karol has co-founded 3 startups and brings valuable insights from his Silicon Valley experience, focusing on growing international online businesses.