Road to Successful MVP. Quick Guide.
Avoid these 5 traps if you want to build an MVP
A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, has one goal: collecting information. An MVP is a basic prototype you build to determine what your market wants.
But entrepreneurs often get the wrong idea and think their MVP is something it is not. In most cases, it won’t make very much money at all. Instead, it will show you how you can solidify your business model to make money in the future.
Because of this, startups can fall into several traps, including:
- Choosing the wrong problem to solve
- Skipping the prototype step
- Targeting the wrong audience
- Inappropriate development method
- Analyzing feedback wrong
This guide will first examine what an MVP is and is not and how you should build one. Then, we’ll go over all the development traps you should avoid.
What an MVP is not
An MVP is not:
- a proof of concept
- a beta
- a prototype
A proof of concept is an early model you build that shows your business can work. Its primary purpose is to convince investors to buy in, not for customers to buy.
A beta comes before an MVP and is buggier and less polished. The beta's point is to elicit functionality feedback and search for glitches. An MVP, by contrast, should be free of glitches and used to test out the marketplace.
A prototype is a toy model of your system that you use to help build an MVP. It should gesture towards how things will work but doesn’t need to be a functional product. Skipping the prototype phase is a common problem that startups face- see below.
6 steps to Building a Successful MVP
A good Minimum Viable Product is the product of these steps:
- Market research
- Product scope
- UI/UX design
- Prioritizing features
- Market Research
An MVP is a form of market research in and of itself. It is an experiment you perform with a hypothesis: If I offer this product, people will buy it.
But before you can have a hypothesis, you must have a theory. You need to have some ideas about what the market is like in the first place. Then, you make an MVP as an educated guess about what people want to buy.
Market research is critical: an estimated 35% of all startups fail because their product does not fit the market.
Defining Product Scope
The “V” of “MVP” stands for “Value”. What value do you provide to customers? What sets you apart from competitors?
This is important because it is this value you will primarily be creating. Your final product will have more features, but an MVP will center on the core product scope defined in this stage.
UI / UX Design
People don’t use apps or websites that are poorly designed or uncomfortable. User interface and experience are just as crucial to core functionality when it comes to the success of your product.
Good UX for an MVP is more complex and accessible than for a full product. It is easier because fewer features lead to a more straightforward interface. But it is also more challenging because you have to nail the few features you do have.
Money spent on UX is money well spent. On average, $1 spent on UX results in a return of $100.
Of course, you will want your final product to offer the latest and greatest technology, whether AI features or Blockchain integration. But with every proposed feature, ask yourself: Do I need this to offer the core value of my product?
For example, if you are building a cloud-based calendar service, you want to focus on its ability to record events and sync with the cloud. While you may want to offer a zillion fun alarm sounds in the final product, that is something you should probably ignore for the MVP.
Launching the MVP
An MVP must be launched just as much as a finished product. To that end, you will still need some advertising and marketing. You must consider the best way to reach potential clients and customers.
But you must remember that this is only part of the final product, so you should spend less on marketing. Instead, you need to spread awareness just enough to get reliable feedback data.
Observe, Test, and Learn
MVPs are experiments. You need to know that your goal is to see how potential customers react. Hopefully, they will find the core functionality of your product valuable and want to buy it.
But even if they don’t, there are valuable lessons to learn. You might need to change gears and offer a slightly different product. And you can listen to what people say to find out what they might want.
Never forget that Edison was happy with his first 2000 failed attempts to make a lightbulb because they were, in his eyes, successful attempts at figuring out how not to make a lightbulb.
5 Common Mistakes In MVP Development
Many things that could be improved in MVP development come down to trying to make your MVP do the wrong thing. An MVP is primarily an experiment to see if your core idea will sell. It doesn’t need extraneous features, but that doesn’t mean that your offer should be wrong or poorly made. A good MVP will be polished but straightforward.
Here are five of the most common mistakes in MVP development:
Choosing the wrong problem to solve
This is related to the Product Scope and Prioritizing Features phases. Don’t jam-pack your MVP with features so that it will appeal to everyone. Instead, hone in on the exact problem you want to solve to attract a specific audience. Quality over quantity is the insight here.
Skipping the prototype step
Some people confuse the prototype with the MVP and think they are the same. But a prototype is more like a simple model you build to help you develop the MVP. It is not intended to be put on sale. To that end, build a toy prototype of your MVP first to get an idea of what you are trying to build. If an MVP is minimal, a prototype should be less than minimal- it might not work so much as offer a general experience of what your product should look like and an approximation of how it will work.
Targeting the wrong audience
Your MVP should have a specific audience. It’s like chemistry, where you experiment on a specific chemical to see the result. In business, you want to know precisely how your intended audience reacts. Don’t get feedback from friends and relatives if you don’t expect them to be future buyers.
Inappropriate Development Method
The idea of an MVP goes hand in hand with Agile: small, frequent changes based on constant feedback. It does not work as well with Waterfall, which is based on the idea of big, pre-planned development cycles. Think fast, flexible, and lean.
Analyzing feedback wrong
It is infamously difficult to get helpful feedback from human beings. Polls can ask the wrong questions, and people may need to answer how they feel.
To make the best out of your feedback, consider the difference between the quantitative and qualitative data you collect. Quantitative data will include precise numbers and metrics about your product’s functioning. Qualitative data, however, will supply information with less structure that tells you how people feel about your product.
One helpful way of thinking about this is to use qualitative data to scan for problems and then examine quantitative data to pinpoint the issue. For example, people may generally complain that a website runs slowly. You can then look at runtime data to determine which pages are loading slowly and why.
Building An MVP With A Third-Party Developer
Some MVPs are so simple that they require little to no technical buildout to implement. For example, Groupon’s MVP was just a manually operated website. The founders had to take each order, buy the product, and ship it alone.
But most MVPs will want to showcase some novel technology or functionality. Their core value will be to do something that no one else does. In this case, someone will have to build the product.
If it is simple enough, you could go through the expense of building it yourself or hire a team to build it for you. But this will take valuable time, energy, and money away from your efforts.
Another approach is to hire out the development of your MVP to an existing third-party software firm like JetRockets. This has several benefits:
- You get a vetted, functioning, and experienced development team from day 1.
- There is less risk if your MVP fails and you have to change directions.
- You can take advantage of any technical expertise the development team may have.
- Experienced teams can watch for obstacles they have seen working on previous MVPs.
If you or your company wants to build an MVP, send us a message to chat about it!