The prominent social networking site Facebook started as a basic MVP to connect Harvard students. Users were able to post messages on board and interact with one another. Facebook’s MVP proved the platform successful enough to be advanced with more complex features.
So if you think MVPs might disappoint your target audience for its lack of perfection? Think twice before jumping onto conclusions. In fact, a 2019 survey reveals that starting small then scaling your software product is critical for almost 70% of all startups fail because of premature scaling.
Let’s start from the basics to discover the potential of an MVP in building a successful business.
What is an MVP?
An MVP or a Minimum Viable Product allows startup founders to build a skeleton or minimum viable version of an innovative product to test features and functions with real users to minimize risk and gather feedback for advancement.
However, it is still a launchable version of a software/product that supports must-have features of a product and nothing more. The intent behind an MVP is to attract early adopters, achieve product-market fit and enable faster time to market.
The process also involves gathering feedback from early users to steer the subsequent development of the product over the MVP. Eric Ries, who was responsible for bringing MVP to the forefront of startup product development, defines it as “the version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”.
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An MVP must be “minimum”, meaning it must take the least effort possible to build. However, it also needs to be “viable”, meaning that it has enough design and functionality to be reliable, usable and considerate of user needs.
The purpose of an MVP is to accelerate product launch with minimal risk of failure, based on an established idea and within a small budget and timeframe. With MVP development, startups can rake in user feedback, pull in ideas based on experience and roll out a product that stands all tests.
In some instances, an MVP showcases the potential of a business idea and gets investor or stakeholder buy-in.
Related: Should You Indulge in Conversational UX for Your Startup?
The problem statement
Write down the problem statement on paper. What is the user’s struggle without your product? A problem statement defines the need for the product and how urgent and critical it is for the user to solve it. The more urgent and critical the problem, the more willing users are to pay.
Market / audience analysis
The more you know and learn about the target market, the better off you will be in business. Conducting surveys and soliciting user feedback is the best way to prevent failure. You may think you have a great idea. But if the market thinks otherwise, your product might struggle to succeed.
A pre-requisite for this step is that you know who your target market is, deeply and personally. Market analysis puts you in the users’ shoes to empathize with them while building the product.
What’s the icing and the cherry?
You’ve now successfully identified the target market and the problem statement. Now, let’s talk about the solution. A simple Pomodoro timer and Trello solve the problem of productivity in completely different ways.
In your product/solution, how are you going to solve the identified problem? More so, which features are the cake’s icing and which are the cherry on the top? Prioritize the various functions in terms of their usefulness to the user. Then, consider which are worth adding to the product.
Developing the MVP
Now, you will begin an iterative development process to build the MVP. The MVP you finalize must be engaging, interactive and user-friendly, as it represents the final product. Be sure to maintain the focus on the primary features.
Related: How to Design User Experience for Diversity & Inclusion
User feedback stage
After you’ve developed an iteration of the MVP, you launch it and gather feedback from the target market. Said feedback is critical for the subsequent development of the MVP and the final product.
Now, you integrate user feedback into the MVP. Address and brainstorm over the less frequently asked questions or concerns, too. Sometimes, some users are more in tune with the product and raise excellent questions through feedback. Revise and ship again.
One of the most common mistakes when developing an MVP is overloading it with features that aren’t the icing or the cherry. Feature overloading distracts users and fails to keep feedback focused on the most important aspect of the product, delaying product completion and stretching budget limits. So build with the “minimum” in mind.
Superficial product strategy
An inadequate product strategy (which builds on market analysis, competitive analysis and customer feedback) hampers the MVP development process and even makes it stretched thin as employees busy themselves with building without a direction. Lay down the groundwork before building over it.
Large development team
Too many cooks spoil the broth. This is a classic example of what happens when the MVP development team is too big. A large team adds overhead costs, slows development and reduces overall performance.
Insufficient features in MVP
Remember, the “viable” part of MVP is as critical as the “minimum”. This fine balance is hard to strike, which is why many startups fail to launch an MVP that ensures success. Be sure not to leave out any critical functions of your product that make it viable.
Low stakeholder involvement
A startup always benefits from stakeholder engagement in MVP development. Without appropriate collaboration between stakeholders and developers, an MVP can lose its meaning and go directionless like a chicken without its head. So, involve notable stakeholders through the MVP development process.
Yes, we know it can get tricky to know and understand what to include and what not to include when you are developing an MVP, and the task becomes more daunting when you are a first-timer to all this.
In such a situation, it is not only prudent but sometimes even necessary to seek help and let the experts take the lead.
And what better than the pioneers themselves? At KiwiTech, we have had an exemplary portfolio of startups that have benefitted from our technical expertise in developing MVPs from scratch and doing it with the proper groundwork and strategy to ensure product market fit. Speak to one of our consultants today to headstart your journey for building an MVP!