Why do so many start-ups end up in failure? Most often it’s because they don’t have enough clients willing to use it and pay for their products or services. In times of tremendous technological development, lots of entrepreneurs try to make their digital dreams come true so the competition on the market is growing as well. Often their ideas for new, innovative solutions are similar to each other. However, even an idea that looks brilliant as a concept may end up with failure without former precise research and multiple testing and improvements.

In that situation, the key to staying on the market is to listen to your clients and respond to changes in their needs, demands, behaviors, and environment. How to protect yourself from the failure of bringing an unwanted and unused product to the market? Creating an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and a proper strategy for it can be the answer and help you validate your idea at first.

MVP – what is it and why do you need it?

Minimum Viable Product is the first usable version of your digital product, allowing you to put it on the app store and test it before you launch a fully-fledged product. It requires a lower budget and allows you to release the initial version of your product ASAP. For example, at Applover the whole process of building an MVP takes more or less 3 months.  

7 steps to master Minimum Viable Product Development

Its primary aim is to check whether its further development makes sense or what is worth considering or changing before launching the final product and to gather valuable user feedback. In other words, MVP allows your team to gather the largest possible amount of knowledge about your clients and take relevant actions corresponding to that knowledge. It comes with the least possible effort thanks to delivering them the minimal value from using it but enough to learn more.

7 Steps to master MVP development

1. Analyze your customers’ problems and potential possible solutions

The first and most crucial (but often overlooked) step in MVP development is conducting market research. You should make sure that your idea fulfills the needs of your target market and your potential customers. In this phase focus on gathering as much information as possible about your target group to make sure your future product will solve their real problems or fulfill their authentic needs. Conduct deep analysis of your target group’s problems and consider potential solutions that you can deliver to them with your future product. Talk to them directly or indirectly and listen, keep statistics, draw conclusions and consider the best possible options for how you can help them.

According to the CB Insights survey, the primary reason for the failures of start-ups is the lack of market need. In other words, if your product is not going to address the real problems, customers won’t make the effort to find solutions.

Your product has to bring value to the people already at the MVPs stage so you have to choose the most important features to include there. Determine your product’s advantages over your competitors and the profits from the perspective of your clients. Start with describing the requirements of your target users and then build your MVP around them. A good practice is making a list of features according to their priorities.

2. Don’t underestimate your competitors

One of the major mistakes that entrepreneurs do when they are about to build a Minimum Viable Product is not taking into consideration their competition or underestimating their strengths. Among so many different startup ideas, it’s very probable that someone tried to solve the same problem earlier as you are about to do now. Don’t skip this step and do broad research of your competitors on the market, try to find your own unique value proposition that you would like to deliver to your customers with your product. Learn from the mistakes and experiences of companies that failed in their attempts. Learn also from those who have achieved success, consider why, and draw your own conclusions.

7 steps to master Minimum Viable Product Development

3. Proof of Concept

Proof of Concept is a method allowing you to check whether your idea at this stage is worth further software development. It’s a temporary solution and written as soon as possible. Here it’s not about the clients and their needs, nor about your competitors. PoC will help you find out if your concept is technically possible to realize and worth further effort. This part won’t be visible to your customers, it’s just for your information. This step may seem unnecessary because the code is doomed to be thrown away in advance, but this approach gives you a chance to minimize the amount of time possible wasted when it turns out that the solution you want to use is not what you expected. It’s better to spend 1 day and throw away the resulting code that’s far from perfect than to spend a week tweaking the whole thing and perfectly fitting it into the project, and then throw away the work because it doesn’t work as we want.

4. Abandon perfectionism, start small. Review, refine and learn

Bear in mind that the phase it’s just the very basic version of your product and the beginning of your path to releasing the final, perfect product. That’s why at this point you should focus just on the basic functionalities and building prototypes so that you can gather feedback for the primary product, examine the pain points of your early adopters, and then introduce changes and improvements. Building an MVP implies finding new conclusions and inspirations for your idea and plan. MVP for a car wouldn’t be a wheel but a skateboard – something that it’s functional enough to use but needs modifications and development to become perfect. All this comes with experience and learning.

7 steps to master Minimum Viable Product Development

5. Design prototypes and conduct tests

When your market research and the initial plan for the next steps in development are done, you can now move on to building your basic product and conducting tests. The draft version of your product should be mostly focused on the UX and semantics. Its aim is to show the functionalities and design but also to attract seed funding from potential investors. Mobile app prototypes are used as a rough representation of the basic version of the product and check whether the design strategy is going in the right direction. Thanks to them you’re going to get to know the users better, and how they feel about the current app’s appearance and layout. Such an approach allows you to make modifications before the product enters the development phase and lets you save some budget – at the later stages making changes in the UI/UX design can be too huge or too expensive.

6. Choose the MVP type that best suits your current situation

There are two leading categories of MVPs: low-fidelity and high-fidelity. The first type is used at the very early stage of the whole process and it helps you to better understand your target group and their problems, examine how accurately your solution answers them, and understand what kind of solution they really need. Low-fidelity MVP can be for example a landing page, an e-mail campaign, surveys, blogs, etc.

High-fidelity MVPs are a more complex strategy implemented usually in the later stages. It helps you to conduct a deeper analysis and gather more detailed information about your customers. It allows you to determine how much they are willing to pay in case you launch your full-scale product, empower your marketing strategy and explore new opportunities for scalability and growth. MVPs from this category can be for example digital prototypes, crowdfunding, 3D models, Wizard of Oz MVP, and others.

7. Launch an MVP

Certainly, it’s a lot of work to build a successful minimum viable product but it will pay off over time in the long run. Take small steps, test a lot, gather feedback, analyze, and introduce adjustments and your chances for success will be much higher. Remember at this stage to take care also about the importance of marketing because if nobody will hear of it, nobody will test it as well.

What is more, focusing on that fundamental phase rather than a full-fledged solution decreases the risk of releasing a product that is unsuitable or undesirable. It also enables immediate reactions and changes based on ongoing feedback from the market.

If you’re working on your MVP with your tech business partner, don’t hesitate to share the information about your estimated budget at the very beginning. It’s very important from the perspective of the development team. They are able then to adjust the scope of work to your financial assumptions and limitations so that the value for money at your current stage can be the best.


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The right strategy is the key to the success of your MVP

Remember that MVP is not going to work perfectly as this is not its goal – it has to include basic functionalities so it doesn’t mean it’s going to work perfectly at this stage. MVP is a process and the process needs a consistent strategy. Fulfilling your vision step by step leads to building a fully-featured product finally. Be patient, build, measure, learn, and iterate it until it’s going to work as you want it to. Striving for perfection is a continuous, repeatable process, analysis, changes, and hard work of the entire team.