Denis Grankin Head of Sales Department

Minimum Viable Product in Software Development and MVP Estimating for Startups

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MVP for startups

It has always been a hit-or-miss proposition to launch a new start-up. Forming a business plan or its scheme, pitching it to investors/funders, assembling a team, introducing a product/project, starting to sell it is an obsolete version.

Nowadays setting up a business became less risky due to a fresh approach that has been appeared to simplify this process and quickly gained a foothold in the start-ups’ industry.

What is an MVP?

Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) allow any development team to run experiments, determine how you can most effectively add business/customer value. In a nutshell, it is a service/website that includes some basic features to satisfy early customers/users, investigate the market. Comprehensive functionality should be added after the product owners had gathered real user feedback and some pre-orders or early funding.

Classification of MVPs

We have provided a brief overview of the widely-used MVP types that help you know whether to bet the farm on this product.

  • Concierge approach: implies manual guidance to walk with a user through whole problem/solution lifecycle to realize whether your product has a chance to succeed and solve user issue. There is a great way to minimize the risks by applying this solution. Food on the Table is the best-known grocery shopping service that was developed based on this MVP approach.
  • Wizard Of Oz approach: imitates a fully functional product/project by using manpower to deliver the finished solution. Its applying is usually not expensive, helps to build effective prototypes fast, test the user’s response to your product/project without being developed. Groupon platform applied this MVP approach, and nowadays it connects billions of people and processes for everyday transactions.
  • Piecemeal approach: delivers your product/service by using existing tools/solutions. It implies least costs to introduce a product/project to the customers/users. BJ Fogg website is its living proof. This MVP type was used at the very beginning.
  • Single feature approach: implies a prototype that implements the most vital product functions. It helps to determine the target audience, receive user feedback, solve pain points when testing.

Steps to creating an MVP

Step 1: Define your product’s primary goal

The first thing you should do is verbalize the product’s idea. It can be done by answering the question “What problem will your product/system settle?”. Defining a broad goal for your product provides a room for it to grow over time, respond to the evolving user needs.

Step 2: Map out the user journey(s)

Putting the mapping allows us to identify the main hot spots of the user journey. As well as identifying users’ expectations as they go through the necessary procedures, this mapping allows us to identify all the different types of dissatisfaction such as poor quality of reception at the counter, lack of information, a process that is too complex to complete a procedure, etc.


This process is incredibly important because it allows you to track, measure, and monitor users throughout their entire lifecycle with your product. The user journey would be: Search for a book, View Details, Add to the Cart, Pay for a Book, Choose Delivery. After the stages are defined, each feature should be also defined.

Step 3: Prepare a list of features to build

Once you have mapped out the stages of the customer journey, the next step is to highlight the key milestones of the major features that show whether your customer sees the value at each stage.

Here is a list of features below:

  • Search for a book: search by title, search by author, search by ISBN.
  • View details: view summary, view book cover, view author's biography, view feedbacks, etc.

list of features

Step 4: Prioritize the features inside lists

Features prioritizing helps you identify where you can make the most impact with your product/system in relation to the urgency of the feature. For this, you should define how the feature is critical to the process completion, how often it is used, how much value it brings and how risky this feature is.

Then the features should be rearranged on the map by moving the ones with the high value/priority to the top and the ones with the lower value/priority to the bottom.

prioritize the features

Step 5: Define the MVP

The first row on the map is the Walking Skeleton. It presents the minimum of features that should be built first.

define the MVP

MVP Estimation

We have provided an example of MVP estimate in order to give you a basic understanding of how this procedure works. It is a rough estimation that mostly depends on technology stack:

  • frontend part 39 hours;
  • backend part 41 hours;
  • design part 27 hours.
Features Design (hours) Backend (hours) Frontend (hours)
1. Search for Book
1.1. Search by Title 8 4 2
1.2. Search by Author 1 1 1
2. View details
2.1. View summary 4 2 3
2.2. View book cover 8 2 2
3. Add to the cart
3.1. Add to cart and continue 8 6 3
4. Pay for book
4.1. Pay with credit card 4 8 3
4.2. Pay with PayPal 4 8 3
5. Choose delivery
5.1. Add new address 2 4 3
Total 39 41 27

Also, you can read: How to estimate a project

Final words

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is not just about 1.0 version. It is a great approach that should carry into every product development process. Once you have mapped the user journey you can take action by using it to embed an MVP.

This solution minimizes risks and helps you focus on proactive customer retention. We hope that you have a good understanding of what MVP is, the reasons for its building. DDI Development team is always excited to help you build and deliver great digital solution that will boost your revenue and increase customer retention.

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