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Denis Grankin Head of Sales Department
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How to create a Minimum Viable Product: Stages, Benefits for a Business, Examples [Comprehensive Guide]

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Let's imagine a situation: you have an idea of your future successful product, but you have no idea how to implement it or don't know whether this product will be in demand after implementation or not. However, it's not imagination but reality. Then all you need now is to launch MVP to check the viability of the product. What is an MVP in business language? To be precise, it is all about business benefits, such as saving money and time.

There aren't too many people who preferred to fail after release, right? But bad things happen. According to recent statistics, 82% of businesses go bankrupt due to cash flow issues. At the same time, 29% of startups fail due to a lack of funding and personal funds. The reasons why it happens can be different: incorrectly calculated development costs, sophisticated design, too many improvements, inconsistent marketing approach. But the most annoying thing is that an unnecessary product was developed. That’s why you need to begin with a minimum viable product (MVP) that will help you to avoid failure.

Let's figure out what is an MVP in software development. But before we start, it is important to know what steps you should take to develop a minimum viable product: detailed MVP project plan developing, idea testing, quick launching to the market. Companies that are aware of the MVP benefits and start up business activities quickly grow 20% faster than the rest.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

MVP Final Product

MVP is the minimum form of the full-fledged product coming soon. It is all about proving theories about product relevance and functionality. The correct answer to the question “how to get an MVP?” is to quickly adapt to the market requirements and to develop a project that will be in demand even after a while.

Minimum Viable Product in software development means the following:

  • it is the basic model of the final product;
  • it has all the functions necessary for its work;
  • to build an MVP is not the same as to build a prototype;
  • it is a real product that needs to be developed and improved further.

Attention! We should bear in mind that an MVP is still not a product's final version, so you should focus only on the word "minimum" as a goal. The worst thing is that the MVP holders may consider their customers need the same - to build MVP website or an app without further elaboration. What a huge mistake. An MVP takes place only in the first few weeks, after that the product is becoming scalable, more functional, powerful, convenient, affordable, etc.

What Is the Purpose of a Minimum Viable Product?

You may decide to create an MVP because your project team wants to:

  • Validate the idea before packing the product with expensive functionality and before handing the product over to end users;
  • Release the product to the market as soon as possible and get initial feedback;
  • Validate the product's relevance to the current state of the market.

By creating an MVP, you can do more than just test your product idea. There are more significant advantages of MVP development:

  • You will save your money (or your investors’ money)
  • You will see how long it takes to create a project and will be able to distribute time more wisely in the future
  • You can completely change your idea without losing any money or time.

Types of MVP

MVPs, or minimum viable products, are the backbone of the product development process for startups using lean startup principles and agile methodology. They are prototypes created to test a business idea and get valuable feedback from users, allowing for informed decision-making and product improvement.

There are two main types of MVPs: Low-fidelity MVPs and High-fidelity MVPs. Low-fidelity MVPs are basic, low-budget prototypes that allow for a quick evaluation of basic functionality and concepts. Conversely, High-fidelity MVPs replicate the final product exactly, allowing for a comprehensive evaluation of user interaction and aesthetics.

The choice between these types of MVPs depends on the stage of development, budget constraints, and the desired depth of feedback from potential users.

Below you'll find a bit more detailed comparison of these two types of MVPs:

 Aspect  Low-fidelity MVP  High-fidelity MVP
Realism  Basic design and functionality  Closely looks like the final product with realistic design elements 
Purpose and Testing  Fundamental concepts and core functionalities to be checked  Comprehensive testing and detailed feedback are required 
User Engagement  Functionality-oriented, users tend to be forgiving of appearance  Users interact with a well-polished, true-to-life, engaging interface 
Feedback Feedback covers the basic functionality and concept  Feedback is comprehensive and touches on all aspects of the product 
Cost and Time  Fast and cost-effective to create  More time- and resource-consuming due to specific design features 

When and Why You Need to Develop an MVP

MVP is the very first step in product development, as it can be used to create a product with a minimum number of features to satisfy the first customers and gather meaningful user feedback.

When you may need to create an MVP:

  • In the early stages of product development. So when you kick off the process of developing a new product, creating an MVP will be a must.
  • When you have a product idea or a unique proposition, an MVP can help you understand whether your idea will resonate with your target audience.
  • When you are short on money and time, yet you need to launch a project.
  • When you want to find out whether there is a market demand for your product and whether it is worth investing money in full-scale project development.

Why you may need to develop an MVP:

  • Gather user feedback to then leverage it to refine the MVP;
  • Mitigate risks or avoid future failures;
  • Identify flaws and blind spots in the product;
  • Ensure a cautious iterative launch of the product, building functionality based on identified weaknesses;
  • Ensure product-market fit to understand if there is demand for the MVP and what marketing strategy should be applied to promote it.

MVP Product Development: Features Available at the Beginning

The very first version of the product has enough functions to:

  • satisfy user requests;
  • collect reviews;
  • test the demand.

Providing users with an MVP, we sell them the concept. After project mistakes and errors are fixed, you can replace the MVP with the end-product. Below you'll find more information on why you should start small and what the benefits of a quick startup are for a business.

Bring focus on the main Business Benefits of MVP Product Development

Costs minimization. The MVP product development implies setting only basic functions in the shortest possible time, taking a minimal risk at each stage. The minimum budget spent on development is the icing on the cake. And lo and behold, within a short period, you can create a viable product, immediately launch it and, at the same time, start modifying it, rather than wait for years until the ideal version of the product is ready.

Understanding why and where demand is headed. The launch of MVP will show what exactly the audience wants. You can change the product by changing MVP features, or, based on received feedback, even to abandon it or focus on another target audience.

Optimization of cooperation with expensive/sought after developers. Wouldn't it be better to outline a minimum volume of tasks to achieve the nearest goal, rather than hiring high-paid programmers to get an MVP or making a task list for years to come?

Build trust with customers. Thanks to MVP, there is no need to impose a finished product on users. But instead, you can demonstrate you are interested in the users’ reviews. Building an MVP you build a product together. In this way, trusting relationships can be developed for years to come, turning primary users into brand advocates.

Users are more gracious to the new to the market, users forgive them mistakes being aware that their participation in product improvement makes sense for newcomers.

Scott Graffius

Timely identify significant shortcomings. Unexpected malfunctions may occur during the product usage. It would be better to detect them earlier before competitors get ahead of you. Think about it, when the product is massive and with a high load, it is more difficult to make modifications online.

Gather a user base in the early development stages. As practice shows:

  • the sooner you make a stand on the market, the faster audience gets to know you;
  • the longer you are in the public eye, the more attention of the loyal audience you attract.

Cooperating with thematic-related media is useful before the product is ready. Think about the interview on behalf of the Founder, write demand-driven articles.

Partnership, investment. You may not be interested in such cooperation at this moment. But what if your MVP catches the eye of profitable partners or investors? For experienced entrepreneurs, the business benefits of MVP product development are obvious. Their participation can be vital for you.

How to build an MVP

The MVP Development process consists of two stages, such as the Marketing and the Development Part.

Difficulties with MVP may occur when the key development stages are not yet clear: what to start with, when to run marketing research, what to analyze, when to stop development process... There are too many questions. Let's look at the main steps to take when creating and launching an MVP successfully.

1. Marketing stage

Sometimes it happens that your brilliant idea does not find any response not only from customers but even from colleagues.

What's more, it may turn out that market niche is already occupied, and you are on the wrong track. The reality is that almost half of the startups’ failures are related to the absence of necessity. Why so? Those solutions did not solve the users' problems.

That is why it is extremely important to carry out a detailed market research and analysis before get started.

What exactly to do:

Market Research

Do market research and figure out whether it needs your idea/product, which of the competitors already provide similar products.

Describe the product idea

Describe the product idea, express it graphically, specify what users’ problems it solves, how it differs from similar products, why people should choose it. By the way, what is the product uniqueness?

What is the MVP goal?

At this point, it would be reasonable to determine the long-term goal of the project/product. For example, you want to increase the demand for the most expensive rate in your online school by 40%. Indicate under what conditions the goal should be achieved. For instance, 50% of traffic growth, cost reduction for paid advertising channels by 30%, all changes should take place within three months.

Identify target audience

Identify your target audience, its values (how do they correlate with yours?). It is necessary to create a customer avatar, or it is much better, to create several customer avatars at once. Imagine the user and his/her needs (to become a certified specialist, having studied at a well-known online school), desires (to get more for the minimum investment of time and money), fears (technical difficulties, a multi-step registration process, need to attach a lot of bank cards, too expensive services).

Detail the product use process

Detail the product use process: what is the reason to use the product, and how do you see this process? Run the test from the point of view of an ordinary user to detect and fix defects, strengthen weaknesses, or change the approach to MVP development.

Features and benefits list

The feature list of the final product should be compiled in several stages:

  • A list of all the features. When the product is created, check if all points are taken into account.
  • A list of features for each separate step of working with an app or website. Before listing these features, ask yourself the questions "What do users need at this stage?", and "What about this stage?".
  • Features prioritization. Prioritize the critical features and classify them in the following format: must-have, would be nice to have, optional, not required.

Thorough function analysis and a detailed approach to prototyping the future MVP will protect you from a possible collapse. Thanks to them, you will see how your future product will function, how it may look like, and what features/difficulties may arise if something is missed at any stage.

Some experts compare MVP with a so-called “matryoshka” doll: in the initial version of the product, there is always a smaller MVP inside, and the developers’ task is to choose the best one before moving to the next “doll.”

*Thing to know:

In pursuit of a product in demand, it may appear a deep desire to save. It makes sense if low-cost developers are far-sighted, experienced, and write code taking into account scaling and improving the product in the future. But what if they are inexpensive and inexperienced yet? It'd better avoid such a situation.

Strategy to promote your MVP

Develop a strategy to promote your MVP app/website: find web-platforms where your target audience is located and where to promote your product. The next step is to develop a marketing plan for bringing the product to the market. You need to list thematic-related, authority, budget-friendly (maybe, free of charge?) media, opinion leaders, bloggers, partners which are worthy to cooperate with.

As you can see, the marketing stage includes not only the preparatory stage before launching. It also covers strategic planning for product promotion after it is finished, a detailed analysis of the functionality, and a step-by-step instruction for use.

Reid Hoffman

2. Development stage

When user needs are clarified, and the key features of the final product are selected, it's time to move on to the development stage. You should get the very first version of your final product, but it must be high-quality and able to effectively solve the users’ queries.

So, what is an MVP in Software Development? The main concept includes the initial product development and its subsequent revision.

Build a team - assign tasks - set deadlines.

Make a decision on which specialists you need and how much you are willing to pay, appoint responsible staff, set deadlines.

Design process

The final product, or rather its minimum viable version, should be user-friendly and easy to understand. Look at the product from the user view, but not from the creator.

Don’t forget that the users’ number will increase over time. Your platform should be ready for the load as well as you have to resolve the technical problems of a large number of users at the same time.

Instead of the user, go all the way from finding the right information on your platform to making an order.

Figure out:

  • What are the difficulties?
  • What questions appear?
  • What's hard to grasp?
  • How to resolve these moments?
  • How convenient and user-friendly are these paths of problem-solving?
  • What will be at the end of the user path?
  • What should a confirmed order look like?
  • How does the user determine that they have done all that was required?

For each question "what does the user want?" add clarifying question "what does the user need?". For example, a user wants to quickly sign up. What does this really mean? It means that a user needs to spend 2 minutes maximum on subscribing, without spending time on additional questions, without filling out 10 mandatory forms. Don’t make a user think a lot.

Develop MVP on time or faster

This stage is devoted directly to development and monitoring. All emerging technical flaws must be caught immediately and fixed.

Run and measure product demand, analyze, and consider reviews

What to do after MVP is developed? Test it, analyze reviews, make changes. It will be an ongoing process. The user experience is constantly changing, users are becoming more demanding, they want to spend minimum efforts and time interacting with any application or site.

Any step should be logical and predictable.

The result should be quick and expected.

Give users what they want. What do users want? You got the answer to this question (right?) at the preparatory stage by doing market research. Check what users want, test the product, and collect feedback. Do not forget that you have created a product to solve end-users' problems, not yours.

Steve Blank

Explore the behavior of active users and pay attention to numbers

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Find out the cost of one user attracting. You should not only promote your MVP but also understand how justified your costs and marketing actions are, which channel brings the most targeted users, which channel is the most financially disadvantageous or vice versa - which one attracts the most paying customers. Cost of attracted customer = Amount of money spent on the channel/Number of attracted users.
  • Lifetime Value (LTV). Determine the Lifetime Value of the paying customer: (How long he/she used your product * how much money he/she brought) - the Cost of user attracting.

Measuring Success After MVP Building

Measuring the success of an MVP after it has been developed and launched is something about the numbers. But it's not just about the numbers. Let's take a look at what you should look at to see if your MVP has managed to conquer the market or if success is yet to come.

1. Define success metrics. Define KPIs that align with your product goals, such as user engagement, conversion, retention rate, or revenue generated.

2. Check user feedback. Positive feedback means your MVP is likely on the right track.

3. Calculate user engagement. Find out how many people are using your product regularly.

4. Check to see if people are taking action. If users do what you want them to do (e.g., buy or subscribe), then your product is of value to them.

5. Retain users. Measure how many users come back to use your product over and over again.

6. Ask if users are satisfied. Conduct a simple survey or ask users to rate their experience with your product.

7. Look at the numbers. Compare the growth in the number of users and the revenue generated. If these metrics are growing, there is little cause for concern.

8. Fix problems. Quickly fix problems and difficulties that users encounter.

There are different approaches to measuring MVP success. In any case, it is better to rely on the experience of skilled marketers in this area.

What are the famous Minimum Valuable Product Examples?

Perhaps, you heard how these giants started their MVPs. We decided not to miss an opportunity to repeat these cases here to get you inspired. So, here is the list of the most prominent Minimum Viable Product Examples.

Uber

This taxi-call service started as an application for text-calling a car only for friends and relatives. Moreover, you can request an exclusive luxury ride, which is usually available only to wealthy people, but UberCab made its rental available to ordinary users.

Airbnb

Only lazy people don’t talk about Airbnb's successful MVP. We will join them. The Founders of AirBed And Breakfast - Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky - did not start with a large-scale website as this service is known today.

They launched a hit-and-run website to invite someone from another city to spend a week or more with them in shared rental housing. The Airbnb Founders were interested in watching how guests would be open to communicating with strangers and how comfortable it would be for everyone to share a common area. As a result, they revealed that everyone was satisfied with services and rest.

To find out which one of the successful booking projects a DDI Development team built, check this page.

Buffer

At the very beginning, the Buffer’s Founder posted a small landing page in the network with the email form only and the inscription “Plans and Prices”. The product was not ready, and Joel Gascoigne needed to figure out the demand. Then he updated the landing page adding specific tariff plans Paid and Free. Many users chose a paid tariff, which meant to continue product development.

Virgin Airlines

This, one of the largest airlines company in the UK, began with one plane and one route between British cities. So, where is this company now? That's right, among the best of the best. Just like Facebook.

Facebook

As you remember, this global social network was created by Mark Zuckerberg as a convenient platform for communication with classmates only.

Cost of MVP

When it’s already clear what an MVP in business and software development is, it's time to know how much it costs to create an MVP. The numbers fluctuate and strongly depend on the project complexity, on the number of experts involved in the development process, on how many improvements have to be done after launch.

If you have a specific or even rough idea of what you would like to start to develop in the next few months, but you have no idea about the budget you need, give us a call or email us for calculating the cost of MVP.

How Long Should It Take To Build An MVP?

If you're reading these lines, you're probably passionate about the idea of launching your own product. And most likely, you want to do it as soon as possible. Developing an MVP is a great way to get to market quickly and cost-effectively. However, developing an MVP also requires a certain amount of time. So how long should it take to create an MVP?

In various sources, you can find an opinion that 3-4 months is the optimal period for creating a full-fledged MVP. However, these figures are averages. The time to create an MVP depends on many factors, including the following:

  • You have a napkin idea or a well-thought-out idea;
  • The number of features you need and their complexity;
  • You already have a technical team or you are still in the dream stage.

Here's the thing. If you only have a napkin idea so far, then you have a lot of work to do. You need to analyze your competitors, draw up an action plan, develop a marketing strategy, define an audience, get BPMN diagrams and UX/UI ready, etc.

If so, trying to predict MVP development time is just guesswork, not clear numbers tied to development milestones. Also, if you're not in the tech industry, you'll have to look for a technology partner. However, with the right expertise on your side, you will be able to get an idea of MVP development time.

So get your technology team together and get a clear estimate of the time it might take to build the MVP as you see it.

How DDI Development Can Help You To Build MVP

Thinking about how to create a minimum viable product? Not sure exactly where to start and how much time/money it will take to create an MVP? You are in the right place. The DDI development team is ready to guide you through this MVP creation journey. Here's how DDI Development can help you create an MVP.

From Concept to Product

We know how important a well-developed MVP is to validate the viability of your software, platform, or even idea. By working with us, you can start this journey with greater confidence knowing that your MVP will accurately represent the intended solution.

Our Expertise Is at Your Disposal

DDI Development offers comprehensive software development and web development services to create web or mobile MVPs that meet your needs. By hiring our team of skilled developers, you get access to the valuable expertise of each professional. In addition, the development process will go smoothly as we utilize the Agile Project Management approach in our work.

MVP According to Your Needs

Whether you have a mobile app or a full-fledged web platform in mind, our team develops MVPs according to your goals and target audience. Our approach involves careful planning, taking into account the estimated software development time and optimal MVP creation strategies.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence on Your Side

DDI Development is experienced in integrating advanced AI technologies such as GPT-3 and GPT-4 into software solutions. Whether it's AI in healthcare, AI in recruiting, or AI in e-learning, we know how to effectively bring these technologies into your MVP.

Flexible Partnership Models

Since flexibility is critical in an IT outsourcing environment, we suggest you consider the staff augmentation option. This collaborative model can enrich your team with the necessary expertise and increase consistency.

Bottom line

When planning to create a unique MVP and release it as quickly as possible, we recommend to keep this in mind:

  • Modern users are demanding. It's hard to surprise them because they want to use modern, intuitive, comprehensible, stylish, and simple digital solutions that would solve their problems and answer queries fast and effortlessly.
  • Developing any product is not a linear process, but a multi-stage one. It is unreal to start the process from the one stage and meet the final product reaching another one stage. There will be constant improvements, failures, users feedback, there will be many stages. It may even happen, the MVP will be completely changed or equipped with additional functionality.
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