During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, more than 804 398 startups were launched. Every year we see new unicorns come up, but on the other side, the majority of the newly created start-ups do not reach the revenue stage. A brilliant, world-changing idea is a critical part of the success of a start-up but the right methodology is also key to early success.
That is where an MVP, or a Minimum Viable Product, comes into play. In this article, we will explain in the details regarding MVP agile process, design and development.
The MVP technique was popularized by Eric Ries in his book: The Lean Startup (If you’ve never heard of MVP, this would be a good place to start). Minimum Viable Product helps founders to validate the assumptions quickly before spending funds on the complete product.
An MVP, as defined by Michael Seibel, Y Combinator CEO, allows one to
"Hold the problem you're solving tightly, hold the customer tightly, [and] hold the solution you're building loosely.”
In other words, MVP consists of a limited set of features that will allow you to test your initial assumptions. It's an absolutely bare-bones version that simply works to validate your idea.
Statistically, 90% of startups fail because there is no market for their product and they are not solving customer’s problems. MVP development is helping start-ups to understand customer’s needs early while minimizing costs.
Basically, your customers may not want your product at all, so the logical approach is to build just enough to validate your idea.
The stages for MVP development are more or less the same as for standard software development but have tougher deadlines and goals. The MVP approach speeds up the launch since only key functionalities are required to get target customers’ feedback.
At Apex Labs, we understand how important it is to not miss opportunities and launch quickly. We specialize in fast iterations and can deliver the very first version of MVP in 20 days. This is confirmed in our customer review:
Apex Labs worked very well and had a quick turnaround time without compromising the quality of work.
First, identify the problem you are going to solve and the assumptions you want to test. Think about potential direct and indirect competitors and how this problem is currently being solved.
After initial market research and understanding who your main customer is, you should start with making a list of the features. From the agile perspective, crafting user stories is the best approach. According to the Atlassian blog, “a user story is an informal, general explanation of a software feature written from the perspective of the end-user.”
Usually, they are structured as follows:
“As a [persona], I [want to], [so that].”
Next, take a critical look at the list and identify the most critical features with the highest priorities for testing assumptions. Again, think as a user and consider what the user wants and what is no longer relevant. For example, in many cases, you don’t need automation or push notifications in the very first draft.
Once user stories are crafted, the design part can be created. This usually takes 3-5 days for simple MVPs. While the design is being created, the backend development should begin. The frontend design should be started following the design completion.
Once the app is ready, internal alpha testing takes place. Then, you can start testing with your beta users and collect feedback. Positive feedback will reinforce the need to build the full version of the product and guide you on what features you should focus on. On the other hand, negative feedback will allow you to make a pivot on time and no longer use resources on unneeded features.
Many of today's leaders in tech started with MVPs which were significantly redesigned and improved upon through real-time user feedback and market insights.
When the app was launched, it only provided one functionality. It allowed users to check in at various places and gave the users badges. The gamification element had a wow-effect which grew the user base.
The founder of ProductHunt wanted to test his idea of developing a community for people who like to share new products & startups at lower costs. He decided to use for MVP a simple tool called Linkyding that created a group for link sharing amongst its members. Within 2 weeks he attracted more than 150 users which confirmed his assumption
The Tinder team sent Whitney Wolfe all over the country to pitch the idea to the chapters of sorority which enabled her to get many ladies to join the app. Then she headed to the corresponding brother fraternities to do the same. When the men joined Tinder they saw cute girls they already met.
Buffer, a successful app for scheduling social media posts, launched as a series of landing pages. . The first page just requested users to submit their email if they were interested in the pricing of the app. The second landing page asked people if they were interested in a free or paid option. Once they realised that the majority of the users selected paid plans, it was clear that Buffer was going to be successful.
“ It starts with the company’s purpose and values, which serve to attract and inspire the right team members. This leads to innovation and superior customer service, which then leads to improved market share and higher revenues, profits, and eventually shareholder value. ” Joel Gascoigne, Co-founder and CEO of Buffer
The Airbnb team decided to prove their assumptions through the use of an MVP. They did this by offering cheap accommodation during the San Francisco Design conference. This information was posted on a simple landing page. The need for a service like Airbnb was overwhelming so users latched on to the site immediately.
Although it's not commonly known, Amazon started as an online bookstore whereby the founder, Jeff Bezos would receive orders and ship them himself.
Uber’s first draft (then called “UberCab”) started as a mobile app solely used by the founders and their friends. Users needed to request access from the founders to join the app.
When Netflix first started, they were not the Netflix you know and love. Netflix’s MVP operated on a model whereby movies were sent by mail, not online.
Github launched a free private beta for the founder’s friends as a part of the “Just Ship It” philosophy. This concept uncovered hidden potential and gave a better understanding of how people engage with the product.
Minimum Viable Product development is the initial step to understanding the market fit for your startup. It requires a clear scope of the requirements, minimum design iterations and quick development. With lower time costs, you will be able to launch the product and collect customer feedback.