All great products start with an idea that you then have to take to the next level in order to build a successful business around it. And before you get carried away with your dreams, it’s important to first figure out if there is a market for your product.
You have to ask yourself if it’s commercially viable enough to build a scalable business around it. Your entrepreneurial spirit will be driven by solving a problem or making an existing solution a whole lot better.
If you’re really on to something, you have to start thinking of building a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP that's basically a product that has enough functionality to validate some or all of the underlying assumptions. You have to be able to use it to learn about the target market, test it, and plan for the next iteration of functionality and continued development.
Sometimes a lot of founders confuse it with a full-blown product or a prototype, but in reality, an MVP falls somewhere in between.
So how do you build a successful MVP without burning through all your capital? Let’s take a look.
1. Do some Market Research
As stated above, you have to first figure if there’s a market for your product. This process can even be as simple as talking to a few friends and users of similar apps.
At the same time you have to be aware that there are over seven billion people on the planet, so what you think is completely unique might already exist.
2. List all the Features
If your gut feeling has been confirmed by your market research, then you’re good to go. To begin, first, identify the problem and detail how you’re going to solve it.
For example, the popular messaging app WhatsApp was born out of finding a way for people to communicate with each other for free (or for next to nothing). The text platform was so engaging and efficient, it quickly became the preferred option for smartphone users.
You can take that example as inspiration to focus on your core proposition and ignore the bells and whistles. Although it has grown since then, the app started out solving one simple problem.
So while you focus on your MVP, it’s a good idea to start listing out the features and describe what makes your product unique. It will also help get everyone on the same page as you start putting your team together to build the product.
3. Make Separate Lists of Add-Ons and Core Features
While you might have an enormous list of items you want to develop (in step 2 above), you have to narrow down your focus to the starting point.
To achieve this, you can make a list of the core features to get the product ready for release and another list of what can come later as add-ons after the MVP is launched. By repeatedly reviewing your lists, you can filter it down to reflect the priorities and requisites of the market.
You may want to read: What to consider before launching a new product.
4. Find a Development Partner and Start Building
Let's face reality: if you're a small company with a pretty limited software development budget you can afford to spend on prototype and MVP development, trying to do it internally can kill your entire project idea. Hiring in-house resources will be a lengthy and an expensive process, not to mention that maintaining your in-house team will literally devastate your whole budget so fast that you won't have time to look back!
Finding the right technical partner to start building an MVP together is no easy feat. However, if you're able to find a good development partner, you'll save time to hire resources and money to do more for less.
Some of the basic requisites you can look for are quality and knowledge about overall user experiences (UX) and technology. A portfolio of out-of-the-box solutions and the ability to scale your MVP development team fast to be ready to build a full-fledged product at a later stage are two more critical factors to consider.
Check out why it makes sense to sign up for our interactive App Strategy Workshop prior to building an MVP.
5. Define a Metric to Quantify and Measure Effectiveness
Once you have identified a technical partner, try to define how your MVP goals will be measured. Furthermore, this will help when you review the list of features with your core team to estimate the cost of building each feature.
It will also have a direct impact on what you finally select for your MVP. So always ensure that you evaluate it in context to what you’re trying to achieve.
It’s also a good idea to prioritize the features because development will take place in that order. By following this approach, the development team can make incremental releases for internal testers as they move through the build cycle.
This is also a great way to keep visual track of what you’re building while keeping costs down!
6. Use Off the Shelf Components Whenever Possible
The best in the business don’t make the mistake of building everything from scratch, you shouldn’t either. Try to use as many off the shelf components as you can because it will definitely help you save money and time. Make sure the partner you're about to involve in your MVP development has an extensive code and reusable components library it can always piggyback on to save your project money.
7. Accelerate Iterations
The key to a successful MVP that doesn’t break the bank is rapid iterations where everyone can continuously learn and improve. Parse MVP development phase into two week increments and deploy incremental builds throughout the dev phase. As you build in increments, conduct unit testing and eventually full suite regression testing.
What else would you add to this list? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.