A Minimum Viable Product. Pros, cons, and ‘how-to-build’
Building your startup is not as simple as it seems to be. This is not just about meeting with investors, selling something, and making more and more money.
The first step to be made is MVP development that is about finding the problem to solve and validate your idea on the market.
In this article, you will find out the nature of MVP and define its importance for your business.
What is the MVP?
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is the core element of startup development.
In simple terms, the MVP refers to a bare skeleton that has a limited number of functions that prop up its viability. This product has a set of specific features necessary to solve a specific problem, that’s all. These features are developed using a limited amount of time and money only to prove that your product solves it.
The “Product” part of MVP can also be changed to “service” or something else. This is not the strict part as long as the main goal is to test the business hypothesis.
As it is described above, the purpose of MVP is to validate your idea by collecting customers’ feedback with the least amount of effort. This step enables you to understand whether you choose the right problem to solve and move in the right direction.
The main purpose of MVP development can be split into 3 parts:
- Validate your idea
You never know whether your product meets market needs. The MVP collects the clients’ feedback within a limited amount of time and provides you with the opportunity to expand its functionality without much ado.
- Minimize resources
Testing all the business hypotheses requires fewer resources as if you build an entire product from scratch. To validate your idea, you develop the core function without having developed a variety of additional features peculiar to the finished product and spend as little time and money as possible.
- Define the target audience
It’s better to start the development process by conducting research to define your target audience. Your end-user persona is the key requirement to understand the features your MVP will include and the functionality it will cover.
Benefits of MVP
You never know if the idea works out. This is where the MVP can help you figure the things out. Being a simple product, it has a plethora of benefits that can assure you to use the MVP for your startup.
- Lower costs
Conducting research, hiring developers, etc. require money. But when the MVP development is centered on the specific features, it limits the budget needed to get the product to the market.
- Reduced development time
The MVP is not about long processes, nor about overcomplicated coding solutions. Time spent on it is not near as much as it will be spent building a scalable product to address all the customers’ needs.
- Clear focus
During the development, you focus on the key features that are of interest to your future customers. Building a sophisticated functionality disintegrates your attention and prolongs all the processes, therefore, increasing the time needed to get your product to the market.
- Real-life feedback
One of the major MVP benefits is market validation. This helps you not to thoughtlessly build a product, but to solve the problems (pains) that hurt. You will receive feedback from early users over its functionality and improve it before the release.
- Investments opportunities
By creating an MVP, your investors have an opportunity to see and use the product as well as to estimate the profit they will make, to instead hear and forget the information in 5 minutes.
- Fewer errors possibility
Whenever you focus on basic functionality, it requires fewer people and time to build it, thus creating less room for error.
Drawbacks of MVP
- Time-consumed feedback analysis
It may take a while to collect end-users’ feedback and figure out what features to be added will benefit your product. At the same time, it may take several attempts to release your MVP and collect that feedback.
- MVP may fail
Every new idea has a risk of failure. But nothing ventured – nothing gained, and growth can only be achieved through hard work. Not only an MVP has such a risk, but a ready-to-use product can go to the distance. At least, with MVP you spend fewer resources to validate it.
6 steps to build the MVP
- Define the problem your MVP solves
To build something, you should first have a clear vision of it. That’s why at the beginning, the major thing is to pave the path. Whether your idea works out? Do you target that specific problem people fail to solve themselves? This is what you should start with. With this in mind, you will reduce the risk of failure and make this development way thoughtful.
- Define your target audience
How much do you know about your target audience? Who are they, what are their needs? First of all, you should define your buyer personas, who are an ideal representation of future customers. The data set includes location, age, sex, habits, earnings, health, etc. Only knowing this information helps you identify customer pain points and cover them.
- Set up team and development pathway
After the analytical part, it’s time to move forward. You know whom you can help and what problem to address. But how? MVP is not about building a product with a wide range of high tech features, but focusing on the core feature that brings the most value to your customers. It’s better to have a tech consultant (or CTO) who will advise you during the whole process.
- Development itself
At this stage, your aim is to create the simplest product in the shortest time possible. If you want to create a chat app, the first step is to build an application to send messages. Then (after the validation is over and you are sure you’re creating the right thing) you can add call and video features, etc. More time you spend on development, the more money you pay.
- Validate your idea with end-users
This is what the MVP is used for. You need to find out how the end-users react to your product and collect the data for further improvements. Integrate analytics tools such as Google Analytics to see the user flow. When you’re done with it, move on to start a new iteration of development.
- MVP improvement
If your idea worked out, it’s time to integrate all the feedback gathered. Add new features to address the issue in a new way. Repeat this stage until your audience is completely satisfied with what they got.
Is the MVP the right choice for you?
MVP is the right choice for you if you’re limited in resources and want to build the right solution spending less time. It enables you to be focused on the main function without having to cover all the features possible.
An MVP is a great method to validate your business idea by getting rapid feedback from your target audience. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to choose the way to develop your startup. Starting your business from MVP will help you minimize development risks and see whether you have chosen the right path.