Ultimate Guide to Building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Everyone has ideas. Some have very good ideas. However, one is only truly victorious when he or she is able to turn that idea into a reality. Additionally, this product of reality must be top-notch and not some cheap knock-off. So, what are you going to do? Do you build your product on your own or do you hire a good team to build a product? No, this is the wrong path. First and foremost, you need to know if your idea is truly needed in the market and if consumers can solve a problem with your idea. Your idea may be good but it can lead to huge financial loss and a waste of time and resources if your product is unsuccessful in the market. So first, you have to start with an MVP or a minimum viable product before you start developing your final product.

What is minimum viable product?

A minimum viable product or MVP is merely a lightweight version of a product. It will only have the minimum features or even just the concept without the functionalities to convey the core idea of the product. The feedback from this customer base will then be used to improve the product in future. Gathering such insights and feedbacks is a less expensive affair than making a fully-fledged product without analyzing the market. It is a huge financial risk and an economic loss is guaranteed if the product is to fail. With regard to an MVP, the economic losses can be kept to a minimum. 

A minimum viable product or MVP is merely a lightweight version of a product. It will only have the minimum features or even just the concept without the functionalities to convey the core idea of the product. The feedback from this customer base will then be used to improve the product in future. Gathering such insights and feedbacks is a less expensive affair than making a fully-fledged product without analyzing the market. It is a huge financial risk and an economic loss is guaranteed if the product is to fail. With regard to an MVP, the economic losses can be kept to a minimum. 

MVP definitions are many. The dictionary definition of ‘viable’ is ‘feasible’ or ‘capable of working successfully’. Therefore, a mvp meaning  an unfinished product created with minimum resources that can solve (or convey that it can solve) the problem that is intended to be solved by the final product. In a general sense, the aim of the product is to analyse the market demand. The results will actually determine whether an expansion of your business or further development of your product will be fruitful or not. The term was made by Frank Robinson in 2001 and it was later used by Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

Examples of Minimum Viable Product

Spotify 

In the MVP for Spotify, the developers only focused on one core feature instead of wasting resources on many features that might or might not be successful. Their idea was to build the best music streaming service and therefore in their MVP, they only focused on music streaming. In order to evaluate the market, they created a desktop app and ran a closed beta. The product’s freemium price model became very popular with consumers. This gave the Spotify developers time to sign more and more artists and to go overseas into the US market.

Facebook 

The Facebook MVP merely connected college students on the basis of their class or college and provided a platform to post messages. It started off as ‘The Facebook’ and did not have the many features that we see today. This was not a novel idea and it was already existing in applications like Friends Reunited and other social media platforms. What made the Facebook MVP popular among college students was how easy it was to use. It was also supposed to be a university directory of sorts restricted to Harvard students alone. The popularity is what made it include more universities. This is what made the full product a success and helped it to be the most used social media platform. 

Groupon 

Vouchers and discount coupons have always been there. But Groupon took these and shared them. With the Groupon MVP, the founder, Andrew, validated his idea in just a month.  It brought the element of group socializing. Initially, it was just a website on WordPress that emailed PDFs to subscribers regularly. This proved successful among the initial subscribers and had a rising demand and the company then built the full-fledged voucher system. Groupon was successful compared to their copycats because their MVP helped them acquire a user base with a pre-launch landing page.

Use cases

Many startups have had successful business expansions because of following the MVP model. One such startup was AdWords. The MVP model of AdWords was called AdWords Express. it is much more simplified and it can produce a version of the ad for the customer. Initially, the process seemed automated but it was basically a group of students quickly typing and copying in the back end. When this little experiment became a success, the developers further developed AdWords Express and now it has become fully automated. Yet another success story is that of Airbnb. Initially, their idea was to just earn a little side income. They managed to create a website but it was difficult for them to get people to use their website. They came up with a plan to target Craigslist. The house owners were given the option to post automatically to Craigslist. This is how Airbnb reached its prospective users. Airbnb today has an income of 2.6 billion dollars. While startups have become successful with the help of MVPs, it does not mean that the MVP methodology is limited to startups. Many successful companies still follow MVP methods to release products and concepts in a short timeframe and minimum resources so as to avoid huge financial investments and losses in releasing an unsuccessful final product.

The cycle of continuous improvement: Ideas to building said ideas to shipping Minimum Viable Products to measuring and gathering data to learning from the data. Create new ideas from what you’ve learned!

MAP and Its Significance in 2020 And Beyond

A minimum acceptable product or MAP is by definition a minimum viable product but with more streamlined features and design. You set a standard with the product so that the customers know that they can expect a quality product while also increasing the likeliness of your product’s success. While MVP has only one or two core features of an idea, MAP upgrades on it by making it faster, user-friendly and design-centric. The goal of the MAP must be to provide a good experience for the user along with conveying the basic idea of the app. In simple terms, if MVP is a teaser of a movie, MAP is basically a trailer of a movie. Things have radically changed and most B2C cases now demand MAP. The technology has transformed so much that the internet is no longer a novelty. In 2020, clients are already used to getting minimum quality. That is a basic necessity that they expect from all products. But today, people need more than minimum; they need an ‘awesome’ experience from the app. A Minimum Awesome Product may be more expensive than MVP; However, MAP is the road to commercial success from 2020 onwards.

How The MVP Approach Helps Your Business? 

It is not easy to make it in the market today with thousands of businesses competing with each other. It is important to create a product that fits the market so that consumers care about it. This is exactly what MVP for startups can do for your business. Following are some of the benefits your business can get with an MVP approach:

Early User Feedback

When you launch an MVP software, you get an early data regarding what the consumers think about your product. If the feedback is positive, then you can continue developing the full version of the product thus minimizing the failure of the full-fledged product. If you get feedback regarding what they do not like or what they think is missing, you can rectify that and add thefeature in the full version of your product. 

Saving Time and Money

App development processes can be expensive. Investing a large sum on a full product without knowing how it will perform in the market is risky and not a wise business decision. MVP can assure you that you are investing in a product that has chances to succeed in the market. 

Verifying Market Trends

In order to evaluate market trends, you can launch your MVP app among your target audience like, for example, consumers from a certain age demographic. This will help you to understand the market trend that is the most appropriate for the complete development of your full product. The feedback you get from the consumers is what helps you understand the market trend. 

Building a User Base

When you launch your final product in the market, it is better to have a user base that is already familiar with the product and knows what to expect. An MVP helps you to acquire this initial user base. This initial user base can also later become the ambassadors of your product as they know the product better. They can then spread the word among potential users. 

Attracting Investment

An MVP is a great way to find the financial funding it deserves. Once you have established a functional MVP in the market and acquired market traction by way of your initial userbase, you can show investors that your product is worthy of investments. This is a great way to convey toinvestors that your product is of value in the market and will succeed even more with the full version.

Step-by-step guideline to build a minimum viable product

An MVP is the right balance between what your product offers to the users and what the users want. This will minimize the chances of failure and error. Just because you do not have to have a lot of features does not mean you can put out a bad MVP. A lot of preparation and research must go into an MVP. The success of your full product will depend on the performance of your MVP. The lack of understanding of the steps involved in the MVP development is what leads to failure.

1. Find Out the Real Problem

The first and most important step is to find out the real problem that you are addressing. The product must be able to solve at least one actual problem for one real set of audience in a way no other product can. Thus, the most time and research must be allotted to find out the real problem first. You also have to determine your target market in order to start your product discovery. There are millions of people that you can help with your product but the target market will consist of people that you want the most and whom you can help in the best manner possible. You have to ask yourself and your team many questions. 

To get started you can begin with specifically outlining the problem that you intend to solve and who you are going to solve it for. 

This is the first step towards honing your target audience. You have to decide the demography of the society that you are planning on targeting. It can be based on age, gender, religion or any criteria depending on your problem. You then have to understand the mindset of this target audience. What their needs are, what do they expect, what challenges will you face etc. have to be understood and studied. 

Two main ways to do that is by undertaking interviews and market research. Interview all the people who you think are likely to use your product. There are many ways in which you can collect such insightful data. One way is to conduct online interviews through social media platforms like FacebookLinkedIn etc. Another effective way of data collection is through surveys. Google Forms and Survey Monkey provide great services for such surveys. Additionally, services of Mailchimp can be used to share survey forms through mails. This method has more success rate than others as it is easier to undertake a survey through the mail. 

Research and investigation must also be put into companies that are your contemporaries or competitors. This will help you to understand what is currently available to your target audience and how they have responded to these so far. Some of the important areas where research must be done are if there are ample opportunities for products and features not being met at present, whether there is any benefit on developing what is already available, how will the product be valuable to the customers and how will it solve their problem etc. Once this primary research is done you can select an important problem that you are equipped to solve with your MVP. 

You have to ensure that your idea has a business opportunity and will be of utility to your target audience. You will have to do further research as that will help you uncover other features and problems that have to be solved. These features and problems have to be listed out. 

The next step is to determine what you long term goals for your MVP are. You have to answer questions like what is the success criteria that you have set for your product. You need to have a flexible strategy that can be changed as and when you get customer feedback will help you to provide valuable services to your customers. 

After all this preliminary research is done, you will be able to understand whether the problem that you chose actually poses a challenge to your intended customers and whether they are willing to pay for the solution. 

2. Product or Solution That Competitors Are Already Providing

A pertinent fact is that the MVP will be launched in a market where it will be immediately faced with competition. It is extremely important to study your target audience as well as competitors to make sure that you are not launching a product that is already existing in the market. 

Analysing your competition will also help you to understand what is unique about your product and make those unique features your core ones. You have to understand the promotional tactic used by your contemporaries to reach their target audience. A majority of the internet users today change their opinion per second and one day a product will be hyped to be completely forgotten the very next day. Think of the best way to reach your target audience evaluating promotional tactics of your competitors. This also serves as an amazing opportunity to beat your rivals. 

There are many tools available to analyze your competitors easily and effectively. One such tool is SEMrush. Following are some of its main uses:

  1. Keyword research 
  2. Keyword strategy used by the competition
  3. SEO audit of blog
  4. Blacklining opportunities.

SEMrush is a very common and popular tool to analyze your competition. It is also used by many businesses irrespective of their size across the world. AHREFS is another useful tool for competitive analysis. Yet another tool is Product Hunt which primarily helps you to find out the alternatives of a currently existing product. Other than that, it lets you get in touch with your first real users. 

Analysing your competition will help you to find a unique selling proposition for your product. You can make sure that your marketing campaigns are better and unique compared to that of your competitor. Thus, this method helps you uncover a unique selling proposition for your solution and a niche customer base to test your product. 

3. List Out Feature List and Prioritise Them 

How your product is going to be perceived depends on the features that you include in your MVP. 

The whole point of including only certain features is to keep the cost at a minimum and also to provide a basic version. Therefore, it is important to only add the core features. A minimum viable product must include only those most important features which help to fulfil the most pressing needs that your customers might have. 

Eric Ries who is the father of lean startup rightly says that any feature, process or effort that does not directly contribute to what you are seeking should be removed. But this does not mean that the product is too basic to be functional. The core function without which the product has no existence must be identified in order to produce the simplest version of your product effectively. It is very important to identify the features that you want to go into the first version of your product. it is also important to identify those features which are to be added on later in the upcoming versions of your product. The feature list of your competitors has to be identified. 

Some of the basic steps include finding out the main feature list that the customers require, editing these features on the basis of their value or utility that they provide the customers and then prioritizing the list. 

4. Design a Userflow 

The next important step towards building an MVP is to map and identify the steps that a certain type of user is likely to take while using your product. 

You have to hypothetical consider how each type of user will interact with your product. 

This leads to two important questions: 

What are the needs these users have to fulfil? And what is the environment in which they will be using your product? You have to look at it from the perspective of the user thus putting yourself in their shoes. It has to be ensured that every task is very simple and easy to fulfil. Customer experience will be better if they can get their work done with just a few clicks. If it is too complicated and inconvenient, chances are more that they will not use it. the user flow for each task that each user type will be fulfilling should be predetermined. For this, the process has to be broken down into stages and every stage has to have an objective. Then you have to outline the steps that are required to reach this objective. 

Userflow is a process of mapping the user’s steps effectively. It helps you to track the steps taken by the user through your website or application interface in order to fulfil a task like making a reservation, buying something etc. This is also called a user journey. It is a very crucial aspect for maximizing your conversions. If you want to convert users to customers, you have to get the right userflow. Flowmapp is about creating a better UX for the website. They create visual sitemaps which will help you to make a better website. Justinmind is another great tool for prototypes. Finally, you end up with a well-defined userflow diagram of your application. 

5. Build, Learn and Measure 

Building, learning and measuring is the final step that brings all of the elements of your minimum viable product together. Your journey to mvp development does not end with merely building and launching the MVP. It is equally important to collect feedback and understand the market validation of your product. 

Let us look at a real-world example to understand this method. 

The team behind Dropbox, even before designing the product or a beta version of the product, went directly to user feedback with the help of a 3-minute video presentation. This was an instant success as the signups increased overnight to more than 70,000. You should note that all this was done without a real product. The team conveyed their idea through their presentation and gathered feedback. This helped them to cement their decision in investing in the development of their product as it was already successful.

Since the MVP is built with only so many features just enough to satisfy the early customers, their feedback is essential in the future development of this basic version. There are many ways to collect customer feedback. Some of them are:

  1. Interviews 
  2. Surveys
  3. Analyzing traffic
  4. Sign-ups 
  5. Engagement 

Google Analytics is one of the most popular and commonly used tools for analyzing. It is a free web analytics service that is provided by Google. It gives you in-depth information about your user’s activity on your websites. This information serves as a valuable insight using which you can create a strategy for your business. 

Crazy Egg is another online application which provides you with a set of tracking tools like heat map, scroll map, overlay and confetti which tracks the different aspect of website operation. This helps you to better understand the needs and preferences of your customer. It is a way to directly benefit from your website and also lets you create a customer approved MVP. 

4 Reasons Why MVPs Fail

Even when you have a reliable developer and have done in-depth research, there are chances that your MVP might fail. Markets and fast growing and changing. The research and information you have attained might become outdated by the time you launch in the market. Following are the common reasons why MVPs fail. 

No Market Niche

It is always important to create a niche market. If you enter a market that already is monopolized or have alternatives similar to your product, your MVP will fail. Even if you are convinced that your product idea is better, customers might already be satisfied with already existing products. Unless your MVP proves that your product is distinguished, you will just be one of the many variables. 

No Problem to Solve

A software solution must solve a problem in order to be successful. The MVP must provide a real-life solution to consumers. If there is no solution or if the solution is not important, then your product will not be cared for. 

User Needs or Expectations Weren’t Met

There are times when the MVP is too minimum and ended up being unimpressive. Maybe users did not like the design or did not have a good experience. Not properly understanding the market needs or issues can also lead to a failed MVP. 

Poor Technical Implementation

Even if you identify a problem and create a solution via the MVP, you can still fail if it does not work properly. Even if it’s not a finished product, a faulty or bugged MVP will not be remembered. Thus, poor technical implementation can affect the life of your product. 

Examples of Failures 

• Standout Jobs

The main reason why this MVP failed was that it was based on guesswork and not solid market research. The creator did not test his idea by seeing if there was a demand in the market for his product. Instead, the creator invested a lot. The team was not able to create a good MVP and ended up with a product that nobody really cared about. 

• Electroloom

Electroloom was a 3D printing company for manufacturing clothes through a desktop device. They did not completely develop their MVP and it remains a mere prototype. Because of the lack of market research, their product was offered to the wrong target group and therefore seemed useless. It did no gain traction and lost funding eventually.

Thus, the greatest power of an MVP is that it reduces the time taken for your product to come to its best version. It significantly reduces this learning cycle. Further, it can help you to create stronger relations with your customers. Through feedback, you are directly involving them in the product development process. It also helps you to prevent wasting money and resources to create features which are not actually useful.

Conclusion 

The entire process of MVP is centered around testing a hypothesis. Businesses can identify their risks, assumptions and test these assumptions with the MVP product experiment. The information from this experiment can be used for enhancing the development process. It will help businesses to start small but steady and then, later on, build a better product according to the market response. With every new version, the product evolves into its better version and brings you maximum returns for your investment.

Countless successful projects in MVP developments are what made us, aTeamTexas, to build this guide. What we focus on is to ensure that the product, even though minimal in functionalities and features, is well designed and performs seamlessly. This MVP must solve the problem that is intended to be solved with the final product. So, if you need help in converting your idea to an MVP, you know where to go. 

Subscribe to us if you are looking for the latest and hottest of the tech world.

WRITTEN BY
Technical Consultant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Request A Free Quote

Privacy and Cookie Policy