You have probably read it repeatedly. Yet here are the numbers again - 90% of Startups fail, about 10% fail in the first year, and about 42% fail because of “no market need” or the lack of product-market fit.
Beyond the silos of your business domains exists a dynamic world of assumptions, trials, errors, tests, and delivery. Undoubtedly, the waterfall methodology of linear, start-to-end product development delivers results. Predicting market needs and developing a product at perfection levels in a complex digital era could be a losing game. When market dynamics are unpredictable, it is the speed of execution rather than perfection that will help. Instead, make a product “good enough,” deliver it, take market feedback, incorporate the learning, improve upon the product and repeat the process.
This cycle of delivering, testing, and incorporating incremental iterations makes up for the agile methodology in product development which fits better in the complex, ever-changing market scenario around us. Find errors, minimize them, mitigate risks and deliver fast - “fail faster, learn faster.”
We owe the concept of failing fast to learn faster to Eric Reis, who initiated this in his book ‘The Lean Startup.’ He removed the stigma around the word “failure” and put forth the logic that iterations made after market learning increase the probability of long-term success. In doing so, you also cut down on or avoid the sunk cost effect i:e, the tendency to keep investing in something just because failure seems unacceptable.
What is the least-risk method to test assumptions or conduct small experiments testing assumptions?
Launch a prototype to test the market and take feedback.
That is, build a minimum viable product or the MVP.
What is an MVP?
The term ‘minimum viable product’ was initiated by SyncDev CEO Frank Robinson in 2001 but later popularized by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup in 2011.
An essential link in the product development cycle, the MVP is the beacon light to evaluate whether a product development idea should be pursued. It is a basic version, the initial workable or “saleable” version of a new idea or concept.
The method is to introduce a product in the market with just the basic features, the lowest risk possible, and the minimum time to develop - yet enough features to catch the customer's attention. Once the feedback is taken, the developers will either add new features, give it a different twist, or develop a new product.
The concept of a minimum viable product
The MVP goes beyond answering “can this product be built?” and answers the question “SHOULD this product be built?”
The MVP does not work just on the functionality aspect.
Instead, it focuses on Functionality+Usability+Reliability+Empathetic Design.
The MVP seeks to answer questions such that by the time the product is launched, it will already have a customer base. All feedback can then be used to review and revisit the product premise, the strategy for development, and the engine used for the growth. The underlying assumption is that all product development has to be about building a sustainable business.
Is the MVP only for startups? An MVP can be for enterprises, too, when they want to test or validate a new feature or concept. Or they could use the MVP to test a new product idea.
- Should perform core functions
- Must have Basic features
- Can possess a simple design
- Has to have an efficient turnaround time
- Be deliverable fast enough
- Should save time and money by attaining fast feedback
In other words, it has to be
Minimum - maybe not perfect, but “good enough” to fit the market and be low risk
Viable - be usable, and solve a problem
Product - may not be customized, but it can be a basic beta version that can be tested.
Purpose of building an MVP
The MVP is a way of building a basic version and releasing it to the public at a minimum cost. The feedback taken from the audience is then used to make the necessary changes or improvements.
A minimum viable product serves the purpose of -
- Getting down the time to market for new product releases
- Delivering the product to your potential customers
- Testing the market before building a complete product
- Collecting usable data on consumer behavior patterns so that iterations can be worked out
- Validate the product ideas with data from real life
- Create and enhance a pre-launch user base
- Economize both time and money
Streamline your MVP plan with your business goals, be clear about the feature or functionality you’d like to build into your MVP, and then make a plan for developing the product.
Types of MVP
We know now that the MVP is a scaled-down version of the final near-perfect product businesses would like to deliver into the market. Depending on the need of a business organization, there can be different types of MVPs available in the market.
Classification into various types can overlap. Rather than restrict ourselves to defining the types under just one or another terminology, it would do us well to understand the logic behind classifying under different names.
Broadly we could have low-fidelity and high-fidelity categories of MVP. Low-fidelity MVP is a basic, primitive concept that perhaps doesn’t need very sophisticated or complicated ways of validation. It might not present any product as such and, therefore, would not promise 100% direction for future development. That could become possible with a high-fidelity MVP that is more advanced and resource-consuming.
- It is essential, requiring simple or no software development
- It is aimed at understanding the customer's problem and finding a solution
- It spots customer challenges, gauges the demand for a particular solution, and then finds the solution
- Examples could be landing pages or “fake doors,” email campaigns, or other marketing campaigns
1. ‘Fake Door’ MVP, or the audience building MVP, is a low-fidelity MVP that assesses the interest in a product without the actual implementation. Ever come across this? You go to a website offering exclusive premium tips to lose weight, click on the CTA that says “get the eBook,” and the subsequent page says ‘under construction.’ You’re a part of the list that the business will collect about the number of people interested in the product. A little risky, but it does help in gauging the potential of a future idea, feature, or product without spending or entering into the validation process of the technical viability.
2. Landing Page MVP helps get feedback on the customer base for future features and content additions. In this low-fidelity case, there is no need to state the product is coming in the future or under construction. You connect with the target audience, get an insight into the USP of your product and collect information about the potential audience. While sometimes it may be difficult to understand why a particular customer did not follow up on the CTA, this is still a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-deploy method.
3. Email Campaign MVP works well when you have existing email data of customers and you want to target a specific audience to check if a new idea interests them. Detailed analytics and insights can help determine how many customers responded to you.
4. Marketing/No-product MVP is a low-fidelity MVP that uses promotional campaigns, social media, influencers, etc., to test an idea on a broader audience. This can be helpful for testing on a wider audience. This would work well to test ideas and explore the market. No-product MVP also works well with no-tech or low-tech development. Examples could be advertising campaigns or even wireframes and demos.
- It requires more complex development
- It gauges if the customer is ready to pay for your solution.
- It analyzes optimized market strategies and business growth.
- Examples are Wizard of Oz MVP, Concierge, Single-feature, and pre-order MVP
1. Single-feature MVP is a high-fidelity MVP that could require intensive resources since it will focus on developing one key app feature or functionality. You could identify the one crucial idea that is core to your product idea, and then as the user base grows, other secondary features can be added. This MVP is fast to develop and great for small businesses to present their product to potential customers. We have had Spotify as an example of streaming music. It started as a single-feature app and then added new features later.
2. Wizard-of-Oz is more like the illusion-building MVP. The idea is still to test whether a product will succeed or not. You might not put your resources into the high-end back-end, but an attractive front-end pulls in the customers. The idea is to let the audience think everything is automated while humans run the show backstage. Speedy changes are possible, and user behavior insights are a part of the work here. This can be used for complex industries too.
Within the broader segregation of low-fidelity and high-fidelity, we can also look at the MVP defined in terms of its form as-
1. Physical product MVPs can be launched independently or through crowdfunding if production costs are higher.
2. Design for a product can also be an MVP as long as the design gives potential customers a credible idea about your product. This could include freehand or digital sketches, landing pages, mockups, wireframes of mobile apps and web pages, and even demo videos. These could be testing either user interface or user experience, or both.
3. Piecemeal MVP denotes a working MVP that will combine existing products or software to create a working prototype. Let's say you use products from other stores in your display catalogs and use third-party websites to deliver. Say you are entering a market with high competition or have a great product idea but limited resources. This type offers you a faster time-to-market with limited resources. Groupon is one example.
4. Concierge MVPs are prototypes of digital products. This is distinguished by the fact that to test, you could initially be doing it manually. It helps you save money by testing its usefulness before it gets fully developed. This MVP will present accurate and valuable user data to gauge customer behavior and response to your product before it is launched. Say you wanted to test a business model for automated shipping of mittens to buyers; you could send the products manually and see how your potential clientele responds. Zappos is an example of a business that started with a concierge MVP.
5 Ms: MVP Product Development Benefits
When product development revolves around developing the MVP, it operates on a methodology of delivering good-to-use, functional products fastest and with the most negligible risks. Speed becomes supreme. Providing a new product that delights your customers demands a transformation — eliminating waste and embracing processes that could accelerate product delivery.
In that process, some benefits accrue for the business:
1. More Focus on Building the Core
Rather than developing a feature-heavy product, offering the core features helps businesses verify their product concept — whether it resonates with their target audience.
2. Meteoric (Speedy) Product Development
Speedy means designing, building, and releasing the basic application quickly, iterating fastly, and validating along the way.
3. Market Validation
MVP software development is about testing and analyzing what works and does not. An MVP aims to get acquainted with the market demand and sell that product to customers they will love.
4. Minimizing the Product Development Cost
An MVP approach helps avoid mediocre end-user satisfaction, schedule slippage, and cost overruns by keeping you from spending your entire production budget on all the features immediately.
5. More Feedback = Improved Product
Feedback from the right audience at the early stage of product development helps to design a better customer experience, which drives continuous improvement.
How to Build an MVP in S.I.M.P.L.E. Steps?
The MVP development process is a top-down, iterative, and test-driven approach that focuses on the customer at every stage of the MVP process. The purpose of a minimum viable product is a quick release, quick iteration, and continuous validation to make the final product launch easier and more successful at the later stage.
Understanding the MVP development process and its steps are vital to its and the product’s success. The following are the necessary S.I.M.P.L.E. steps to build an MVP.
1. Start with Market Research
I have an idea, bingo. Alas, not all ideas are worth bringing to the market — may be your vision does not fit the customers' and market's needs. To evaluate, it is vital to set up market research and conduct surveys to gain more insights before embarking upon an MVP Development process.
2. Ideate on Value Addition.
You cannot sell an MVP of an air conditioner in Antarctica. No matter how good your idea is, it will fail if you cannot answer the following questions:
- What value does your view add to its target user base?
- How could your idea benefit them?
- What will make them buy your idea?
3. Map Out User Flow
Building a car without referring to its visual design is almost impossible. Impatiently jumping to the MVP development process without highlighting the design and user flow leads to a ‘Failed MVP.’ Keep the future product and target audience in mind to design a user flow that is convenient for users.
Design Thinking + Lean UX + Agile = Successful MVP
4. Prioritize MVP Features
The MVP development company will help you finalize all the essential features for building an MVP. The best approach is to follow the MoSCoW method for prioritization.
- M — Must have features
- S — Should have features
- C — Could have features
- W — Won’t need features
5. Launch MVP
Once you have gained insights into the market needs and have shortlisted the features based on the MoSCoW approach to MVP, start building your MVP. While the ‘launch & build’ process of an MVP, remember that although it is not a final product, it should be made with top-most quality that fulfills your customer’s needs.
6. Exercise ‘B.M.L.’ — Build, Measure, Learn
Build-Measure-Learn is the fundamental methodology that Reis talks about in ‘The Lean StartUp.’ Based on a scientific approach, the B-M-L course stresses discovering the problem you need to solve, building a minimum viable product (MVP), and starting the learning process after measuring the launch product's impact. The Build-Measure-Learn (B.M.L.) is an essential step in building an MVP. It deals with measuring the acceptance of the built MVP and its enhancement as needed. Based on the customer need hypothesis, keep iterating the product in relatively small increments.
Note: Don’t be embarrassed by your first MVPs’ results. As Reid Hoffman said, “If you are not embarrassed by your first product, you launched too late.” It often takes 3-4 MVPs, with regular iterations, before the product is set for full deployment.
5 Key MVP Development Mistakes
Talking to budding entrepreneurs about launching a business, most have dreams of starting a big, successful company that would be the next Facebook, Instagram, or Amazon.
It may be or may not.
Essential steps Startups and Enterprises need to build an MVPDownload Free eBook
MVP Development is the best way to test the worth of a product without constant outflow of money or time. However, for its success, it is critical to understand and avoid a few major MVP Development mistakes that can result in a fiasco.
1. Choosing the Wrong Problem to Solve
Analyzing the pain point on which your MVP will be built is essential for its success, else making a beautiful key is useless if it can’t perform a job to open the right door.
2. Skipping the Prototyping Phase
A prototype acts as a bridge between the idea and a full-fledged product. Skipping to think prototypically implies shifting the focus from the ‘how’ part of the product, which can result in an MVP failure.
3. Targeting the Wrong Set of Personas
'Everyone’ is not your targeted audience when validating your MVP prototype. So, it’s not worth asking your friends and relatives for feedback if they are not your intended audience. You need to target the right market and get the correct feedback.
4. Inappropriate Development Method,
About 90% of startups fail. Directly heading towards the lean MVP development process without choosing the accurate development method — Agile, Waterfall, or DevOps — is one of the reasons projects end up their life in the middle.
5. Confusion between Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback
There are two approaches to collecting data from the right audience: Qualitative and Quantitative feedback. You must rely on more than one and pay attention to the other type; there should be an ideal balance of two before making any conclusion.
10 Ways to Validate Your MVP Product
You have built an MVP product and launched it. Still, the MVP approach does not end there – testing and validating it is equally important. You can never be sure whether your product meets the customer’s needs until the MVP test is run. The following are a few validating techniques that can help you gain reliable data from your target users.
It is one of the popular ways to validate and test whether your product is worth launching in the market. Websites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are some of the best platforms where you can test your MVP and raise funds from interested people.
2. Pre-Order Pages
You can validate your MVP by offering your product directly to your potential audience through pre-order pages. If users like your MVP, they can pay for your product before launch — what could be more validating than this?
3. Customer Interviews
One of the most common ways to test your MVP is to interview your target audience and get direct feedback. You can also ask about the improvements and future expectations of the product.
4. Piecemeal MVPs
One of the most innovative ways to validate your MVP business is by investing no minimum amount of money in a product and introducing it to the target audience using existing services, platforms, and tools.
5. Landing Pages
Building a landing page that explains your product’s features is a perfect marketing opportunity to test your MVP, where you analyze your target audience’s interest by how they interact and behave on the page. Use tools like Hotjar and Google Analytics to track visitors’ analytics.
6. Explainer Videos
A story-driven video explaining your product’s features is an excellent way to test your MVP and increase the number of signups. The video helps demonstrate how their product or service will resolve the target customer’s pain points.
Leveraging video to market your product increases revenue 49% faster than those who do not.
7. Ad Campaigns
Ad campaigns pave the way for user engagement before launching the product. Platforms like Facebook and Google can help you run the ad campaigns for your built MVP to analyze the engagement, impressions, and clicks.
8. Social media Surveys
Once you have segmented your target audience thoroughly, you can use social media surveys to obtain quick, effective, and honest feedback from potential customers.
9. A/B Testing
A/B Testing is a perfect way to check the effectiveness of various versions of landing pages, email campaigns, apps, newsletters, blogs, and so on. Tools like Hubspot and Google Analytics can be used to gain insights from the data collected.
A/B testing your landing pages can help you generate up to 40% more leads for your business.
10. New Signups
Reaching out to the right audience with a good quality MVP motivates the user’s interest, eventually leading to signing up for your product. With each user signing up, your MVP's validation becomes stronger. Mailchimp is one of the tools you can leverage to send newsletters to your target audience and ask them for free signups.
10 Ways to Validate Your Minimum Viable Product
Read more to find out the best strategies for testing the minimum viable product
How Much does an MVP Cost?
Undoubtedly, an MVP costs much less than the entire product. Still, it’s imperative to consider and analyze the MVP cost before starting the MVP development process. Whether you are developing a mobile app or a website, the MVP cost of development varies, depending on different factors, like the idea, design, features, technology stack, and time taken to build an MVP.
1. Initial Budget to Build an MVP
You can follow different approaches to build an MVP for your business — hiring a product development company or freelancers or managing the development in-house. Choose any option — it needs an investment of money and time.
2. Time Required to Build an MVP
Building the MVP’s first version should not exceed two weeks. The first version contains the basic features of an MVP, a like Empathy Map, Prioritised MVP Backlog, an Ecosystem Map, a User Journey Map, and a Stakeholder Map. The cost ranges from $15 to $75 per hour, which can vary depending on the project’s complexity.
3. MVP Cost of Design
The MVP cost also depends on the design complexity. The best approach is to evaluate the User Interface (UI) to analyze the MVP cost of design. A seamless User Experience (UX) relies upon a simple, easily understandable, navigational UI. The main components that decide the MVP cost of design are
- Interactions within Page
4. The number of Features and Complexity
Prioritization of features and their complexity are the two most important factors that define the cost of building an MVP. It’s difficult to list and prioritize the features for your next MVP. Adopt the following two approaches to segregate your MVP's right and much-needed features:
- Blue Ocean Strategy
- MoSCoW Method
5. Technology Stack
For an MVP, it is vital to identify the estimated technology stack for the MVP development to ensure the optimum project quality. There are a few tailored, but not the only, solutions that can be easily coordinated:
- Ruby on Rails for your backend because it’s 30–40% faster to develop with Ruby on Rails compared to similar technologies.
- Reactive Native is a cross-platform app development framework for Android and iOS apps, as about 90% of the code can be reused.
Ruby on Rails and React Native are not the only frameworks out there. While doing your due diligence, it’s worth considering other options too.
5 Minimum Viable Product Examples for Your Digital Business
Working at breakneck speed and launching products faster to the market has become a basic necessity in today’s highly competitive world. MVP development is one of the best ways to accelerate the time to market for digital products with the right features that add value to the target customer’s life.
These are the top minimum viable product examples of successful MVPs, focusing on their key feature set.
Facebook avoided spending too much on development and came up with an MVP that connected students of colleges and schools by letting them post messages on their boards. The idea gained much traction, and this MVP example became the dominant social networking platform.
An idea to build an SMS-based messaging platform for internal use took birth in one of the hackathons held by Odeo, a podcasting platform. However, its employees started spending a lot of money from their pockets to post messages on the platform. Finally, Twitter was released as a final product in 2006.
Amazon is one of the best MVP examples that started with selling books online through low-priced and straightforward web design. It was a winning idea, which later established a brand that rules the entire eCommerce landscape today.
Using a simple WordPress website and PDFs mailed to subscribers, Groupon started to share and socialize vouchers and discounts. Their idea turned successful, and they gradually built their backend and voucher system. The initial website of Groupon is one of the best MVP examples for startups.
Dropbox didn’t launch any product. They decided to build an MVP using an explainer video demonstrating the application's usage. Their idea clicked, gaining 70k+ email addresses from their target audience in a single day.
4 Steps to Move from MVP to Full-Scale Product
For most of the businesses, the MVP development process ends once the MVP is launched into the market. After analyzing the result, businesses then launch a stable and final product, which fails — 90% of such projects fail.
What went wrong? They failed to understand that MVP is not a product to be worked on for 2-3 months and then hit the market. MVP development is an iterative, virtuous cycle of building, measuring, and learning, which ends when the right product finds its right market
1. Collect Feedback
By gaining honest user feedback; you can analyze which assumptions went wrong. Quickly learn from your failures and act upon them to get better constantly.
2. Prepare to Scale
After the launch of an MVP, a startup should be prepared to handle a flood of new users. Most startups get overwhelmed with the new user acquisition when an MVP is released, but they get baffled when managing them.
3. Get Your Pricing Right
Test various monetization approaches — introduce premium features on top of the basic free version or go with ads once you see a little spark in your MVP.
4. Market Your Product
Regarding MVP, marketing is not about finding customers to buy your product with a limited number of features. Instead, it is all about pitching to potential customers by generating awareness and gaining feedback to drive the development of the MVP jointly.
1. Is MVP a terminology or a mindset?
More often than not, MVP is thought to be a technology-related term. It is a mindset that an organization can adopt to get initial feedback on an idea with minimum resources. It works within the agile methodology framework, and the idea is to launch a basic usable version of a product to test its viability in the market.
2. How do we differentiate between PoC vs. Prototype vs. MVP?
A proof of concept targets researchers or developers and is a pre-product stage. It tests the idea's technical feasibility and is not aimed at sales. A prototype that might target potential investors & focus groups is made at a minimum budget and tests the idea's look, flow, and UI. Building an MVP requires more time and money than the other two. It is a product with basic core functionalities and features to see how the product idea will sell. It targets early adopters and investors.
3. What's the difference between an MVP, MMP, and MLP?
An MVP, we know, is a product with the minimum basic features ready to be tested in the market to gather and learn about the market needs and desires. The MMP, or the minimum marketable product, is the best version you come up with after a bit of trial & error. Extending the vocabulary, the MLP or the minimum loveable product goes beyond functionality and focuses on quality - on the ''enjoyable" aspect besides the functional and usable.
4. How many features should an MVP include?
There is no final well-defined strategy for MVP features to have as an essential list. But you do need to watch the competitor list and the cost of adding features. Follow a user-centered approach. Analyze your competitors to see the product'sproduct's what, why, and how, and do a SWOT analysis. An analysis of the competitors will tell you where you stand, your product's potential, and what you should do to gain a competitive edge.