Nowadays, advanced technologies, and easy and cheap access to the world wide web, create countless opportunities for both young startup founders and experienced entrepreneurs.
It goes without saying that moving your existing business or establishing one online is definitely a good idea. Whether you are going to sell clothing or provide hotel booking services, the best way to do it is by means of a website or a mobile application.
In fact, due to the enormous popularity of smartphones and portable tablets, mobile applications are slowly replacing good old websites. That means that a fancy app for your business or startup is a must-have today, especially if you are an online store owner or simply would like to launch online any cool service that you have on your mind right now.
The bottom line is that since pretty much all humanity is using smartphones, and modern mobile apps are extremely easy to use, launching your own app seems like a good idea. By the way, even if you do not have any ideas for a business, consider creating a game app, which might be a good way to make some money on ads and premium features.
Well, it seems like everything about mobile apps is great so far. Certainly, nothing is perfect in this world, and application development is not an exception. The main problem you might face is that applications can be rather expensive to create, especially for the young startup founders on a shoestring budget.
Luckily, there is a solution that will help you reduce the expenses and launch your project decently, and it is called an MVP. So let’s go into details on what exactly it is and how you can benefit from it.
What does MVP stand for?
First things first, let’s decode this fancy abbreviation. The term MVP stands for a Minimum Viable Product. Basically, it is the earliest version of your product, which only has necessary and vital functions, that are sufficient to convey the fundamental values to your audience and test your product on the first users.
This makes it the perfect solution for a startup since you can give it a decent test drive without spending lots of money.
Typically, an MVP is the ultimate tool for CEOs who need to collect feedback and understand whether users actually need the product or not. The very first users can share their vision of functionality, special features, and usability, which will allow you to make all the necessary adjustments to the product as well as identify product market fit.
Using this strategy will help you reduce development costs. In other words, you will be able to avoid a possible financial failure if you validate your product idea prior to launching it to the general public.
Eric Ries, a successful American entrepreneur and the author of ‘The Lean Startup’, provides a comprehensive definition of a minimal viable product. In fact, he puts a particular emphasis on the educational perspectives that this strategy offers to the developers.
Thus, according to Eric Ries, an MVP is the version of the new product that allows the team to collect the maximum amount of proven knowledge about customers with the least effort.
It is essential to understand that the MVP strategy is all about the development of the first, simplified version of your product, which is available for public use. It is also important to realize that most improvements that you will introduce have to be based on the actual feedback from this version.
The ultimate goal of creating such a version of your product is to determine what functions and features are lacking according to your target user group feedback.
In terms of mobile development, you will need to find out at least usability feedback. Apart from that, you will be able to study your target audience better and update your app according to their needs and demands.
Finally, after launching a so-called “demo version” of your application, you will know for sure whether you should continue developing it or start working on something new. Thus, the importance of an MVP for your app is pretty obvious – it is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to test out your app on the actual users.
Types of MVPs
Obviously, there are several different types of MVPs, and if a particular type works great for some project, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the same type will work for you. So let’s examine all the types in order to find out which one would be your go-to.
Wizard of Oz
According to this type, a startup founder does pretty much all the work manually and does not utilize the software. There is no basic software at all, as there is only the product concept that needs to be verified.
For example, Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn has proven that this strategy actually works. At the very beginning, he did not spend a dollar on the goods he was going to sell, what is more, he didn’t even rent a warehouse.
In fact, he just posted photos of shoes on the site. As soon as the first buyers started ordering the shoes, he went to the store, bought the right pair, and sent it to them. Thus, after realizing that the project was viable, he updated the functionality of the site and finally purchased the goods he was going to sell.
Those startupers, who prefer the Concierge, offer hands-on services too. However, in this case, the client knows that there is actually a real person behind it. Wealthfront, a popular financial and investment service, started using this very method. Wealthfront employees spoke directly with customers who needed help managing their money.
The crucial difference between this type and the Wizard of Oz type is that its main aim is to generate further ideas for the product as well as to provide services and communication with the client.
The main goal of this type is to convey the value of using the already existing tools instead of creating a unique solution. The prototype of the product actually looks like a complete product. Thus, one can use simple software, put everything together, and add all the necessary functionality after receiving the feedback.
For instance, Groupon founder Andrew Mason launched a WordPress site where he manually posted food images every day. He generated offers in the form of PDF documents and simply emailed them.
Finally, it can be a real software with a minimal set of functions too. With their help, you can narrow down the target group, get feedback, and analyze it.
How does an MVP work?
As you can see, an MVP is a simple and perfect way to save your money, time, and test out a product, so how do you develop it? Here is a helpful little guide for you.
Focus on spending as little time, money, and effort as possible. Remember that your main goal is to reduce the resources required to test your business idea. Thus, identify the simplest MVP type sufficient to receive the feedback and stick to it.
Concentrate on raising awareness. Try to engage as many information channels as possible in order to guarantee yourself the required number of first users.
Presale your product. You can utilize crowdfunding platforms or sell your goods yourself. In this way, you will get both the feedback and funds for further development.
Communicate with your clients and potential customers on a regular basis. This will help you find out the necessary functions you have to work on as well as fix the bugs.
Work with feedback. The feedback you receive has to have an actual impact on your service or product. Try to track all the reviews, summarize and convert them into ideas for further development.
Create a landing page. This page should contain your product description, its functions, as well as a signup form with both free and paid-for solutions. It will help you determine the right price.
Use social media. Such networks as Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube will be the most effective means of promoting your startup.
Launch a promotional campaign for your service or product. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other popular social media platform in order to see if MVP reaches its target audience.
How to develop an MVP
Now let us dive into the actual process of creating an MVP. It’s actually not that difficult at all, so here is what you will need to do.
Determine the purpose of your product and the problem it will solve
You need to know what exactly you are going to do before starting the work on your startup. For example, if you would like to launch a food delivery service, your purpose is to bring people food from the local restaurants, and your problem is to figure out how you are going to do it.
Narrow down your target audience
It is impossible to please everybody, so you have to narrow down your target audience in order to come up with the best possible solution. For instance, the food delivery service’s main group of users is very likely to be single, middle-class people in their early and mid-twenties, so all your commercial campaigns should be targeted at those people.
Analyze your competitors
You can only kill your enemy when you know every little detail about them. The same applies to your competitors. Study their products or services, find the disadvantages, and avoid these mistakes in your project.
In the case of our food delivery service example, you can set lower prices, provide various loyalty programs, and do pretty much everything your competitors aren’t doing. The main point here is to determine your competitors’ weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
Make a SWOT analysis
SWOT actually stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This structure is usually used in strategic planning. However, it is also quite simple to use in ranking MVP ideas. In order to make such an analysis, you ought to come up with the questions, which would be related to the categories mentioned above and answer them objectively.
Determine your user flow
User flow is the path that leads a user to interact with the product. It should be logical and short. While you are building a map of user paths, you need to understand what customers want to get when using your product.
Make a list of functions with a gradation by priority
You should make a list of all the possible required features for your future service or product, and the storytelling method will help you in this planning phase.
So-called “user stories” allow you to focus on individual parts of the functionality and at the same time not to lose the full idea of the product. This technique is aimed at helping developers choose useful functions from users’ point of view.
Choose the most suitable method for managing and developing profit centers
This is the very phase when you can finally start developing your Minimum Viable Product. The most popular means to do that are Lean, Scrum, and XP. So pick whichever you like the best and start working.
Test your end-product
Finally, don’t forget to test out your product in order to receive your feedback. After that, analyze it and fix all the possible problems and bugs.
Startups or everything started with MVP
An MVP is a sure way to test out whether your startup is actually worth further the investments, and if everything about it seems great. However, you might want to see some proof of its usefulness. Well, here are some examples of huge companies that were started with using this method.
Do you prefer Spotify over all the other music streaming services? Well, you would probably be surprised if you saw its MVP version. After all, no matter how simple and primitive it was, it definitely worked, and today Spotify is one of the most popular music platforms globally.
Airbnb actually started as a simple website where Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to rent their own apartment in San Francisco and just look at what it all turned out to be.
Foursquare’s MVP included check-ins and badge rewards for them. Having studied the user reaction, the creators began to expand its capabilities by adding recommendations and city guides. Today, the service is used by 50 million people all around the world.
Before testing the idea of a collective linking service, Groupon’s founders created The Point, a site designed in such a way that people who could not do something by themselves could find like-minded people. But things went well, and today Groupon is a huge community.
Today MeinFernbus is Germany’s leader in long-distance passenger transport services, but very few people know that everything actually started with a primitive website.
CourseYard used to be a tool for creating online publications with a set of formatting functions, inserting interactive content, and designing surveys to test student knowledge. Today, it is a far more sophisticated service.
How to create an MVP if you are not a developer
Pretty often, great ideas come to the people who simply cannot implement them in real life on their own. We are talking about those people who have come up with a stunning idea for a startup, yet they have no means to actually launch a site or an application.
Learn more about how to implement your idea into app development project!
Some of them simply cannot code and struggle with drag-and-drop builders. Some feel like making everything on their own will be extremely time-consuming and boring. Others just cannot work by themselves, they need a team to consult with, but they don’t know the people who could be interested in their startup.
No matter what category you might belong to, there is a solution that will perfectly work for all the cases.
Well, what if you were told that you do not have to be directly involved in the process of creating your application or website? You can simply tell the professionals what you need and get a ready-to-use product just in a couple of days. It’s convenient, affordable, and fast, so why don’t you try it?
There are many companies that offer software development services, but one of the best and trustworthy software partners you will find on the marketplace is definitely Jelvix.
In fact, it is an experienced team of professionals that will undoubtedly bring you to the top. Thus, if you feel like doing all the dirty work is not for you, let Jelvix professionals handle everything. So leave all your doubts behind and give it a shot.
You can be a hundred percent sure that your startup is going to kick in smoothly, yet investing too much money in it is a considerable risk. In fact, the majority of startup failures happen because of premature extension.
It is okay to believe in your project and hope for the better, but you must be reasonable and act cautiously in order to save your money and time as well as to actually succeed.
An MVP is the best way to test out whether your startup is worth investing in and to determine all the possible issues you will need to fix.
Finally, such a version of your website or mobile application will help you find out what users expect from you and give them exactly what they want. Thus, MVP is definitely the way to go for pretty much any startup founder, so go ahead and give it a try.
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