We often hear about cool startups that made it to attract users, investors and funds. I doubt, however, that most of us realize the scope of work that led to this prosperity and fame. It seems like a journey full of inspiring talks and admiration of your ground-breaking idea. The truth is, for one successful startup there are 99 which fail. Well-known failure reasons include poor market research, incorrect financial management, and the wrong team set, to name but a few. But I assume the original cause is this fleur of success around the word “startup” combined with the lack of understanding of the work behind the scenes. In this article, we talk about the work that should be done prior to reaching the first vital milestone - a successful MVP. To learn more about the basics of MVP and why is it important, read this article.
Mistakes of MVP developmentTo begin with, let’s discuss why many startups are destined to fail even before beginning the development.
1. Invest everything to launch an MVPOne of the most frequent and undermining mistakes is allocating more than 80% of the whole budget into MVP development. It happens due to the absence of a business approach, foreseeing the future, and lack of long-term planning. MVP development is just the start of your product journey which should be followed by marketing, promotion, support, maintenance and further development.
2. Absence of analysis and planningSkipping the phase of idea discovery often results in an underestimated amount of investments and high risks. Moreover, the budget becomes used up during development due to multiple tweaks in functionality and requirements.
3. Not thinking about monetizationAny startup is a business, and any business has the same goal – to generate revenue. So, if your business model doesn’t make money – it is useless.
1. Fast time-to-marketAccording to the research, new market entrants benefit from bigger market share, revenue and sales growth. Besides, many product development strategies depend on being first to market.
2. Drag-and-drop developmentThis trend is mostly aligned with the first one. Due to the increasing demand to launch faster, no-code and low-code development is getting its momentum. It is also popular because most entrepreneurs have a very limited budget, team and expertise. Such MVPs can be launched within several weeks.
3. Distributed teamsAfter several years of the pandemic, businesses got accustomed to working online without geographical constraints. There are obvious benefits, especially working with dedicated tech teams: access to a larger talent pool at often cheaper prices, reduced in-office and hiring costs.
4. Data-driven product developmentData is one of the utmost things to focus on for any business that wants to succeed. Today, companies actively adopt techniques to collect data and fully utilize the potential of the data. If you’re missing out on data in your product, you’re likely to make lots of mistakes and spend more time and money to reach a profitable state. So, taking into account current product development trends we created this step-by-step guide with details and recommendations so that you can make one step towards a successful and sustainable business.
How to build an MVP step-by-step
1. DiscoveryDiscovery or business analysis phase is extremely important as it helps not to run out of money during development, eliminate potential risks and find the product-market fit.
“A proper discovery phase is a key to success.”
— Ilia Kiselevich, Founder & CEO at SolveIt
Research and analyze.• Research idea: what pain point or need does your product cover? • Analyze market potential and competitors; • Define monetization model; • Test hypothesis.
Plan.• Map user journeys/scenarios (goals to complete, steps users should take to complete those goals, optimize journeys if possible); • Choose technologies and write development specifications, • Gather design requirements; • Prioritize features to create MVP feature list, as well as define the features to include on the product roadmap. After completing this stage you are ready to initiate your MVP development with a clear understanding of its functionality, financial and time investments 🥳 The most appealing benefit of a thoroughly performed discovery phase is that you are armed with enough data and proof to raise the first investments. Thus, you start building your solution backed up with confidence and money that won’t exhaust once you release the product. ⏳ Time: 1-2 months. 💰 Budget: from $5,000.
2. Design and developmentIf you think that you can skip the first stage and hire a development partner to start from here to save money or speed up the process - you can’t. Simply put, any professional agency will start with the discovery. Another question is how well and deep it will be performed.
Start product development with building a prototype to check if users can seamlessly interact with your future app. Once you have a ready prototype, create task scenarios and find testing participants. It can be from three to five people for each customer persona. Note that you should better exclude specialists so that you can estimate real user experience. You can also use various testing methods like A/B testing, eye tracking or in-depth interviews.
After user testing, you are ready to create your MVP design and start development. To save time and money, we recommend not implementing complex design solutions and graphics. Focus on making your app easy to adapt and intuitive at first hand. ⏳ Time: 2-6 months. 💰 Budget: from $15,000.
MVP development: FAQ
How to build a scalable MVP?1. Code crisp and clean from the very beginning. Hardly anyone rewrites the code once the product is launched. 2. Use an architecture that can be evolved and scaled. Follow the SOLID principles, and use patterns in a reasonable quantity. 3. Analyze the tools/libraries that you plan to use. So that you don’t find outdated technologies after the release of the MVP that interfere with further development.
No-code or custom MVP?Despite the popularity of no-code and low-code development approaches, at SolveIt, we are adherents of custom software development while we prioritize quality. However, as discussed above, it might be an option for those who have a shortage in budget, expertise or are not sure 100% that the product will be successful and profitable. Plus, you are likely to face limitations with no code in the long run.
How long does it take to build MVP?As you can see, MVP development may last from 3 to 8 months (including the discovery phase) depending on the development approach, team expertise and complexity of the product.
What happens after MVP development?
Release and promotionNow, your product is ready for launch 🚀 It is recommended to follow a soft launch approach. It means releasing the app to a limited part of the target audience to reduce risks connected with product release. While your early adopters are coming on board, you should keep an eye on the following aspects: • Monitor heavily the feedback to improve usability and prioritize features for further development; • Understand if users are willing to pay and test monetization options. Regarding marketing, you should find the approach that is relevant to your specific audience. For startups marketing mix often include targeted ads, collaboration with influencers, social media and community building, media and PR, and participation in events as a sponsor or pitching your app. Your big goal here is to create a buzz around your brand and product.
Tracking• User feedback is the most important parameter to monitor at this stage. • To understand overall product performance: website traffic and traffic sources, website conversions, registrations, Google Play or Apple Store statistics, signups, the number of orders and paying users, social media subscribers and user engagement. • Business model: Customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), churn rate.
Further iterations and continuous supportIf your MVP performs well or even better than you expected - congrats, it’s high time to get back to the development. This is what happens after “happily ever after” and it deserves another extended guide.
P.S. Keep calmBe pragmatic and a bit pessimistic about your ideas and potential investments. Focus on data, process and users. Summing up, a successful product is always the combination of a thorough analysis, product planning, profound technology expertise and putting users first.
We know how to build successful products.