Everyone is talking about building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). But the important question is…, who is doing it right?
MVPs seem like a simple idea at first, but many businesses seem to have understood it incorrectly. In the name of building a ‘minimum viable’ products, most of the times people are building minimum, but not viable products. The philosophy that is supposed to help you cut down waste early often ends up producing another kind of waste.
Yes, we know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but builders were laying bricks every hour. The same is true of software development.
The biggest and most indispensable apps you use today didn’t start their life as polished, expansive products. They all started as something much simpler, and it took the work of multiple teams, and over multiple years, for them to mature into the slick solutions that you now know and love.
But if large-scale apps take years to craft, how can developers ever hope to push out a release? Here, we investigate the benefits of building an MVP, or minimum viable product.
What is an MVP?
Your MVP is your product without extras. It’s comprised of the minimum amount of features it takes for the core functionality of your product to be met. You can think of it as the bread and butter of your software: its only function is to solve the one utmost problem you want your product to solve. If the feature doesn’t directly contribute to simply solving that problem, it doesn’t belong in your MVP.
Let’s have a closer look at the meaning of each word in this phrase:
- A minimum means a product is so poor and simple, that no one wants to buy or use it. However, you will need a minimum amount of resources to create such a product.
- Viable means a product of your dreams – it’s useful, interesting, fast and has a beautiful design. But you should know that it takes a lot of time, money and effort to create a viable product.
Facebook didn’t have a Timeline or a Marketplace when it first launched. Whilst Google which launched in the beginning of 2007, did not allow the editing of single cells until 2015.
Why do you need MVP in business?
To get feedback
One of the main reasons why experienced developers advise to make an MVP for a startup is to gain feedback from your customers. A business without customers is not a business, and therefore you need to interact with them often. Science is yet to reach a point where we will be able to identify what our customers want without interacting with them. The best way to learn what your customers want is to let them use what you are building. It’s critically important to clearly know users’ opinion about your product. User opinion will help you understand what features are the most desired and expected, and which ones are unwanted. Remember that any app should solve a users’ definite problem. The best way to find out how successful your app achieves this is to get this information directly from your users. Use this data for the benefit of your company.
If you’re lucky enough to have a healthy treasury chest stashed away, you have less need to consider ever getting investors involved with your business. Otherwise, it is a good idea to look for someone who is ready to invest and grow your business. However, when you have only an idea in your head, the prospect of getting involved with your business may not sound very promising to investors. One of the benefits of MVP development for a startup, is that you will have something more serious and tangible than just your thoughts and words. These factors massively increase your chances of attracting investors who can provide both finance and good advice.
Don’t waste your efforts
We’ve stated how MVP’s help you to understand what your user really wants from your business, but we have so far overlooked the saved effort from launching an MVP rather than a full version of an application. An MVP is an important step, which will help you to plan your startup wisely and scale your business properly. Once you build the full-scale product, it is likely that you will spend twice the effort to tailor your app to users’ requests. Therefore you reduce your business risk and increase long-term efficiency by building an MVP. So why not choose the easiest way?
An example of a successful startup which began with an MVP is:
A world-renowned taxi app, Uber started off at the beginning as a very simple taxi app. It had the following typical MVP characteristics:
- A plain design;
- It had only 1 main function – to connect iPhone owners with drivers, and provide the users with a credit card payment system to pay the drivers.
- It was aimed to solve only 1 specific problem that users had – to find a taxi that is cheap, and to find available taxis quickly.
As we have reviewed, a Minimum Viable Product allows you to find out a lot of information about your idea and your users. Furthermore, this is achieved with much less effort, whilst also maximizing your budget. You should consider having an MVP, as it gives you the opportunity to test your product with actual users in a real market. This necessary early feedback often makes the difference between success and failure.
If you want to create your own MVP, get in contact with us to discuss the best approach for your specific app idea!