How do you turn your business idea into reality? By taking your vision of the product or service. And breaking them down into actional steps. When it comes to MVP development, you should apply the same strategy. Let’s take a real business example:
You might have heard how Amazon was founded in the garage of Jeff Bezos’ rented home. Do you know what the MVP of Amazon looked like? They started with a simple website with just a catalogue of books.
They implemented several iterations of the initial MVP. Now Amazon is one of the top largest retailers in the world.
There are many such inspiring Minimum Viable Product examples from all over the world. But the most important question remains, what is the simple formula for success in MVP?
We have compiled a list of essential checklists for building an MVP in this blog. And a 6-step MVP roadmap to kickstart your software development journey.
What is MVP?
One of the terms or jargon which is very popular in the product development world is an MVP (Minimum viable product). The term MVP was coined by Frank Robinson and became popular through the book The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.
An MVP is simply a launchable version of your product with minimal features. It allows testing and further development of your product.
The first product you give to your first set of users to test and validate the value of your product idea. It is like a foundational building block for your final digital product or mobile app.
If you’re stuck at:
- Creating a Minimum Viable Product for your enterprise
- Or haven’t built your MVP yet or are unable to decide which features to include,
- Or if your MVP is taking longer than expected.
Keep on reading this blog to get all your answers.
As the author, Eric Reis, said, “The ability to learn faster from customers is the essential competitive advantage that startups must possess.” (The Lean Startup).
Learning from customers and iterations is how a Minimum Viable Product enables your product development process.
The core part of building a digital MVP and custom software is understanding its value to your customers.
Here is a list of checklists to consider for building an MVP successfully:
1. Choose a lean minimum viable product
So, what is a lean MVP, and why should you choose it in your digital product development?
A lean MVP is faster to build with limited features and a set of users. In most industries launching a lean MVP is accessible and viable, apart from sectors like banking or insurance, which have regulations.
The digital product has to pass through certain regulatory bodies in such cases. Biotech is another industry where a lean MVP is impossible for obvious reasons.
But for most industries, Minimum Viable Product is launched with minimal features and in less time. Most billion-dollar enterprises now, like Airbnb, Dropbox, Twitch, Stripe and more, started with a basic version of their digital product. Do you know that Airbnb started with a simple landing page with no features like map view or even payments?
Read how to develop apps like Airbnb and Slack? (frameworks and features) : here
The point here is that launching your MVP is possible with simple websites and MVPs with minimal features, which act as a base for testing in your digital product development.
A lean Minimum Viable Product, thus, is a building block. It is a process to develop the final product you want to build for your enterprise.
2. Talk to your users/customers.
It is conducive to talking to some users or customers before you plan to build a Minimum Viable Product. It doesn’t imply that you have to spend years on customer interaction or research.
But customer feedback and some interactions with your users will help you develop solutions that serve your customers. If you can be your product user, then it can also be helpful to bring those insights while building your MVP.
In simple words, if you are solving some problem for your customers, you should have a general idea of the problem and the potential solution for it.
3. Know your MVP approach
While building an MVP, you must identify possible MVP approaches and implement them closer to your business goals and requirements.
Some different kinds of digital MVP approaches are no product MVP, Product-mockup, Single-feature MVP and MLP. Each of these approaches is explained in the later section of this blog. (Please refer to the step-by-step guide below)
4. Stick to limited functionality
You need to condense down what exactly your initial user needs. Start with a simple set of things and prioritize them. Most startup founders struggling to launch their MVP are stuck because they want to address all of their users’ problems, including their potential users, for the future.
For a more effective and lean Minimum Viable Product, you should focus on a small set of initial users. Focus on solving their highest-order problems, and then keep the rest until the later development process of your digital product.
The crucial thing here is to have a vision for your MVP and assign a time limit for your MVP development. The advantage of a lean MVP is that it gives a base to iterate.
It’s precisely what you should aim for while building your MVP. It is just a starting point and not your final product to include every feature. Contrary to what you might believe, your MVP is not too memorable.
Do you remember when successful enterprises like Facebook, Airbnb, Twitch, Stripe and more launched their apps? And what do they look like initially? There lies the answer.
Airbnb launched with a basic website and no features like map view and payments, which are available now. They delivered MVPs quickly, iterated, often learning from their users, and are worth billions of dollars.
5. Optimize and improvise
Iteration is the key when building a Minimum Viable Product. But distinguish between iterating and pivoting. You don’t need to fall in love once you have created your MVP and move on too quickly, bringing in new features.
If your product does not work for a specific set of users, you should not go into planning to expand your product. You need to improvise in such cases of MVP development.
So, before bringing in new features to your digital product, improvise on the important ones first. And iterate. Continue improving on your solution until it solves the users’ problems.
Current discussions on MVP: Is MVP dead?
One of the growing queries on Quora is: “how unpolished can be MVP?”. On the other hand, Hackernoon writes, “The MVP is dead. Long Live the RAT”.
Google autocomplete also suggests “MVP is dead” if you type MVP is…
However, much of these discussions refer to the misuse and confusion around MVP. And also propose different alternatives like RAT- Risk Assumption Test ( to test the riskiest assumption), MVE – Minimum Viable Experiment ( to test the central premise of a business idea), MCP – Minimum Compelling Product ( to build something compelling for users), and more such alternatives.
These alternatives emphasize the different aspects of MVP building. And address some of the prevalent problems with building an MVP.
Further Reading: Think Of These Top 7 Common Security Threats For Enterprise Development
A 6-step MVP roadmap for building an MVP with success
The challenge in building MVP is execution and materializing your product’s initial idea.
We have carefully curated a step-by-step MVP process to ensure a successful MVP as a product development company.
1. Comprehensive research
The first and foremost step is an insight into the problem you are addressing for your users and solutions that you can offer. For this step, you can utilize a standard Product/Market Fit Pyramid, which includes a set of intricacies.
Like your target customer, underserved needs, feature set, value proposition, and user experience. It would help if you addressed vital questions like “what is the market?”, “Who are the people who have the said problem?”, “Is there a market need that your product is countering?” etc.?
These questions are helpful in the pre-planning stage and market research of your MVP. Apart from such relevant questions, the three major questions that you need to ask are:
Which exact problem is your MVP meant to solve?
Who are the users interested in your product?
What are the existing solutions to this problem in the market?
2. Features identification and prioritization
The next step is identifying the essential features you want to implement in the product. Here, your product vision is the most important to focus on. Discuss and write down different features and specifications that might be valuable for users’ needs.
After that timebox those features for development. If all features do not fit into your scheduled launch time, cut them down to the essential ones. The features you plan to include in your product need to be prioritized by their importance.
Divide the features and specifications into must-haves, could-haves, and won’t-haves. It is crucial to have one top-priority feature that reflects your product’s core value at this MVP stage.
Do you know that most of the famous and successful apps now were once built on very few features as an MVP product? Airbnb didn’t have the payments feature and the most used map view feature.
Similarly, the Stripe app had no bank deals and significantly fewer features to begin with. Hence, an MVP is not about perfection but a roadmap for your perfect final digital product. You need to implement core features and start!
Further Reading: iOS Vs Android Mobile App Development – Key Differences
3. MVP approach selection
There are different approaches when it comes to building an MVP. You need to select the one according to your needs and resources. Your MVP development process should follow one of the MVP approaches mentioned below:
No-product MVP is an approach where you validate your product idea and get feedback without coding, as Eric Reis mentioned in his book The Lean Startup. Here are the two ways of No-product MVP::
In this approach, you test an idea and its opportunity through the hypothesis of your product using marketing campaigns. There are no building blocks or actualization of your future product.
It just shows or explains how the product will look and its functions. This approach can be implemented using landing pages, surveys, advertising campaigns, videos, blogs, etc.
The most significant advantage of idea visualization over other MVP approaches is its cost-efficiency. It also requires much less time.
A famous example of idea visualization MVP is Dropbox, which started with a simple demo video and attracted thousands of users to their websites. They further developed the product based on the feedback from the users.
Sell first, build afterward.
In this approach, you start a presale of the product before actually building it. It usually includes crowdfunding campaigns on relevant platforms like Kickstarter. Sell the first MVP ensures that your idea is liked by people and raises investment from contributors.
In simple words, you launch a campaign to sell a product yet to exist and develop.
A product mockup enables you to develop a part of your future product’s functionality. With the product-mockup approach, you have several options to choose from when creating your MVP.
As the name suggests, this approach includes focusing on core functionality. So that your users understand what the product is meant for. In this approach, you need to build the MVP to fulfil the user’s core requirement at least by 80%.
Minimum Lovable Product or MLP focuses on user delight with the minimum viable product. Unlike building a “viable” product, “lovable” replaces it for a memorable experience for its first-time users. The idea of the MLP is to enhance a product’s basic set of features.
For an improved user experience through visually appealing design, illustrations, micro-interactions etc. It utilizes intuitive information architecture for a streamlined flow etc.
Further Reading: 7 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile App for Your Business
4. Success criteria identification
How will you know whether your MVP is a success or not? To identify that, you need to specify some key metrics, which are as follows:
NPS(Net Promoter Score)
MRR(Monthly Recurring Revenue)
CAC(Customer Acquisition Cost)
ARPU(Average Revenue Per User)
5. Prepare a story map.
Story Mapping includes four components: Goals > Activities > User or Job Stories > Tasks. It is crucial for the prioritization of features and also for creating a breakdown of your product backlog.
Goals are at the core of any product and require implementing certain features and activities. You can turn goals into user or job stories.
A story map enables you to understand your product’s gains and pain points.
6. MVP launch
If you have learned how to build MVP, you are already halfway through the process. Launching MVP should be easy because, essentially, it’s the foundational block of your future product. After following all the steps mentioned above, you are all set to launch your MVP.
B-M-L-I (Build- Measure-Learn-Iterate)
Finally, exercise BLMI (build-measure-learn-iterate). When you have built your MVP, it is the start of building a product and thus a constant process of validated learning.
After defining your product with an MVP, you need to test the product and get helpful feedback from the users. Quality Assurance engineers conduct the first testing stage and improvise the overall quality of your product.
You need to review each detail after launching the MVP. From your users’ reaction, feedback and release, everything helps you determine the acceptability and potential of your product in the market.
Markovate has curated a step-by-step process to ensure successful MVP deployment as a product development company.
Markovate is a digital product and app development company specializing in creating custom digital products using modern, up-to-date technologies. Read more about us here.
Rajeev Sharma is the Co-Founder and CEO at Markovate, a digital product development company based out of Toronto. With more than 12 years of experience in digital product development, he has led major digital transformations and product development at AT&T and IBM.
Rajeev’s core expertise includes mobile and web development, product growth, and UX design. He holds a degree in Computer Science & Scrum Alliance certifications. Apart from his projects, he is deeply involved in Metaverse and closely follows the latest trends.