The importance of developing an MVP and validating a business idea was popularized in “The Lean Startup” published by Eric Ries.
In 2004, Ries was the supervisor of IMVU, a startup based in Silicon Valley. The company wanted to develop a platform that people could use to create 3D avatars, invite friends, and use existing instant messaging platforms to interact.
Hoping to capitalize on 3D gaming and instant messaging trends, IMVU undertook the development of its product with full confidence. Within six months, they had fully incorporated all the instant messaging apps.
There was one big problem. When the project went live, the thousands of eager users were nowhere to be seen. Trying to discover where they had gone wrong, the startup invited targeted consumers to interact with the product and answer a few questions. It soon became obvious that their basic assumption about the customer’s needs was utterly wrong.
People did not want to continue using existing messaging apps but would download a new cool messaging app with 3D avatars. Ries realized that the whole approach of building a perfect product was inherently wrong and costly.
The right approach was to integrate one messaging service and show the application to a few targeted customers. That would allow the startup to fail early, fail cheaper, and learn from its mistakes.
He discovered that the biggest question to ask was, “Which features would be valuable to my users.” And the only way to get a definite answer was through validated learning to establish without a doubt what consumers want. This form of learning could only be achieved by building a minimum viable product and conducting real user testing.
So let’s explore the notion of an MVP, why it’s necessary, and how to build an MVP for startups by involving a professional Flutter app development company.
What Is An MVP?
Every business begins with a hypothesis. For instance, a founder may speculate that building a taxi-hailing app where users can split the fare would be a million-dollar idea.
Therefore, a startup MVP is a minimal viable product built to test the hypothesis:
- Minimal means that it contains the bare features required to validate if the idea is true;
- Viable implies that the product is useful and addresses the users’ needs the same way the final app would fulfill their demands.
For instance, the minimum features for a taxi-hailing app may include:
- Schedule trip
- Choose a preferred driver based on proximity
- Send a split fare invite
The Lean Startup methodology advocates the need to avoid the wastage of energy, time, processes, and money.
For instance, rather than spending nine months building a fully featured product only for it to fail, it’s better to take about three months to develop, deploy and test several MVPs. The startup will have validated at least three business ideas within that time.
Some recommendations to avoid any wastage when building an MVP include:
- Lean teams must start small —with just enough team members to feed two Pizzas;
- The MVP should be built with a cross-platform development language (such as Flutter or React). They promote code reusability, reducing the time it takes to launch on IOS and Android.
- Mobile startups need to take the least time and resources to build the MVP—so rather than hiring a dedicated internal team, it’s better to outsource to development companies;
- Hiring in regions such as Ukraine, where the development costs are lower, can even translate into savings. The business will have more money to test some of its ideas in case the initial ones fail.
- Speed is paramount during app development for startups, owing to the highly competitive environment in which startups hope to compete.
- The development team should leverage a Lean-friendly development strategy such as the Agile MVP approach that prioritizes building a working model as soon as possible and performing incremental improvements. It’s generally advisable to avoid the Waterfall method.
Why Do You Need An MVP?
The shocking reality is that many mobile applications fail within the first year. CIO reports that users abandon 80% of apps after the first use. So, the respective app stores could be filled with millions of applications with thousands of downloads — but the sad reality is that many could have failed.
Here is how your startup can benefit from an MVP:
- Minimizing spending: Focusing on the core features reduces the development time, minimizing the costs of validating the hypothesis, helping to conserve the budget.
- Faster time to market: A minimum viable product is a completely usable app that can help capture the market before the entrance of competitors.
- Helps validate your product idea: Validated learning is the only viable way to determine product fit and interest.
- Flexibility in development: It becomes easier to release and test a limited number of features to know what to include and leave out. The lean methodology also advocates a flexible team that can be easily scaled, with expertise sought on demand.
- Get your first customers: The MVP must be viable enough to attract and retain early adopters, who may be willing to contend with a limited feature set, hoping to access more functionality in later iterations.
- Get feedback: Base assumptions about what users want can only be validated once they interact with the real product and point out its weaknesses or where it fails to address their needs sufficiently.
- Attract investors earlier: Lack of funding is a leading cause of startup failure. A pitch deck that shows positive preliminary results from a working MVP may increase the project’s perceived value and alleviate investor concerns.
How To Build An MVP?
The concern of any startup that recognizes that failure may be inevitable and wants to fail early and fail fast will no doubt be interested in how to create a minimum viable product.
Here are some of the general steps in the MVP development process: But it’s paramount to reach out for a more thorough consultation:
1. Identify and evaluate the market
It’s not uncommon for founders to think they have stumbled on a groundbreaking idea that needs little validation through market and user research.
But when figuring out how to build a minimum viable product, the main launchpad is gaining a firm understanding of user preferences, behaviors, and market dynamics (SAM, SOM, etc.).
It’s necessary to use primary research methods, such as conducting surveys and interviews with the target audience and other stakeholders.
Ideally, the focus group should include people who have previously experienced the problem the app attempts to solve. For instance, when developing a ride-sharing app, the input should come from customers of other ride-hailing services.
*Tip: Rather than taking several days to develop a complete business plan, use a Lean Model Canvas for idea validation and brainstorming.
2. Analyze existing competitors
Too much competition for limited resources and opportunities can stifle growth. The best apps have unique advantages. Competitors have weaknesses that new startups can exploit to gain their market share.
When figuring out how to build an MVP, competitor research can focus on the following areas:
- Identify direct and indirect competitors;
- Establish the most common features of parallel applications;
- Attribute competitors to different market segments;
- Gauge the overall customer experience on competing applications. Do they have negative reviews? What’s the biggest customer complaint?
- Figure out their marketing and promotional strategies;
- Compare the overall value of paid features compared to pricing.
3. Make a list of minimum MVP features
The first and second steps of how to build MVP for startups deal with understanding the potential end-user and the competitive environment. They also help reveal core features that people care about. Additionally, you can base the selection of the main features on:
- What uses care about, and what will deliver the maximum value;
- The biggest customer pain point;
- Intuitive features that bolter the app’s unique value proposition —and that answer the question of “Why should I download this app and not this?”;
The lean startup model advocates the build, measure, and learn cycle. It’s vital to build fast, so you can test quickly and incorporate new ideas into the product.
It’s best to combine the agile development methodology and a scalable team, hence outsourcing to companies experienced with MVP development, such as AttractGroup.
What Comes After An MVP?
After creating an MVP and making it available to end users, the next vital stage is measuring by gathering first-hand data, for instance, the number of downloads in a given time frame (acquisition).
It’s also critical to track key performance indicators that indicate the app’s performance. The KPIs are compared to acceptable industry benchmarks. Some of the key metrics to track include:
- The lifetime value of a customer
- Cost of acquisition of a customer
- Churn rate
- Bounce rate
Based on the results and KPI, the team should draw conclusions, build new hypotheses, make changes, and check performance. It’s the same process denoted by the Lean Startup Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop.
So if you’re thinking about your startup, consider developing an Mvp version first. This will save you money, give you the opportunity to test your idea, and greatly reduce your risk.