Minimum Viable Product – What Is MVP, Why You Need It, & How To Build It?

mvp development
July 23, 2020 | 10 min read

“I have got a great idea!”

This is a basic sentence or even a foundation of many successful and unsuccessful companies.

Agree or not, it all starts with an idea but how and where to start, how to implement is still challenging to many aspiring entrepreneurs out there. And even to companies trying to build new products and services.

Entrepreneurs who initially don’t have the resources to build their products start by building a proof of concept (POC), prototypes, wireframes, or mockups. Instead of taking random steps or restraining from taking any, find a dedicated team that will guide you through the technical intricacies of the project initiation phase and will build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for you. To spot the difference between POC, prototypes, wireframes, or mockups and an MVP can be quite a challenge. Yet, the concept of MVP is easy to understand.

What is the minimum viable product (MVP)?

what is mvp

The concept of MVP has existed in varying forms for years but gained popularity after Eric Ries described it in his book, The Lean Startup. Ries defines MVP as – “the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

According to Ries, delivering an MVP means –

Lean Development – Lean startup approach here means working smarter, spending less, and discovering more. Within this approach, the development of MVPs follows a simple pattern – build-measure-learn.

Validated Learning – The information that is collected from customers allows the team to determine how the customer’s experience has been affected, verify the idea, and use the knowledge received as a foundation for building their fully functional product.

Early Launch – This is the whole point of building an MVP. Launch early, launch simple, and test thoroughly. It is always a good idea to ditch the complex plans that nearly every startup has and launch an MVP quickly.

In simpler terms, a minimum viable product is a product with a very basic, but necessary, set of features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. There are no extra or secondary functions at this stage but there is only precisely the essence of the service.

The idea of MVP is pretty simple –

  1. Build the minimum set of viable features to test your key assumptions.
  2. Learn more about your customers and the problem you want to solve

Many established companies such as Airbnb, Instagram, or Dropbox, among others, started once as MVPs and then evolved into what they are now. Those are just some examples that prove that you can start with an MVP and then grow into something bigger and more complete.

Why MVP is important – purpose and benefits

According to Innovation and Entrepreneurship Professor Steve Blank, “the purpose of the MVP is to reduce wasted development costs and to get the product into the hands of visionary customers as soon as possible. It’s with these visionary customers in mind that the minimum feature set should be developed.”

An MVP is an effective way to set foot in the market and generate actionable marketing intelligence. It helps you get early data that confirms users’ interest in your product. MVPs aren’t limited to apps or software. An MVP could be anything from a food truck in the restaurant industry to a car share in the transportation industry.

Benefits of developing an MVP

The MVP version is a tool to help determine the product’s potential. An MVP helps you test your ideas in actual market conditions before creating the entire product. To perform this initial testing, the product only needs the most essential functionality. Anything beyond primary functionality is not included.

Here are some of the benefits –

  1. Practically validate a new idea in the real market. Verify market demand.
  2. Focus on the determining core features of the product.
  3. Aсquire a potential user base and find early adopters.
  4. Save resources, time, and money on developing the final product.
  5. Helps you to avoid failures (and capital losses).
  6. Learn about the actual user experience and ever-changing market demands.
  7. Speed up the process of learning and implement agile and iterative development.
  8. Attract Stakeholder/Investor early

One of the major advantages of building an MVP is that it helps you legalize your idea, products, or services, which helps you decide whether to continue with the idea and if so, how to modify it. MVPs are only effective when you listen to the market feedback you receive. Its control is matched only by the amount of perplexity that it causes because it’s pretty hard to do.

How minimum and viable the product should be?

The term “MVP” suggests something very specific –

Minimum – the smallest number of capabilities, features, and packaging that
Viable – deliver enough value to users or customers who are willing to spend money
Product – something people can use today

How Minimum and Viable Should be your Product

How minimum should your MVP be? A real MVP should deliver a minimum yet a valuable product. It must – serve at least one target audience, solve at least one key problem with a well-designed user experience and be easy to build and launch quickly. You will need to be strategic in deciding which limited functionality to include in your MVP.

The product’s viability is one of the key characteristics of MVP development. It must be a working product that your company should be able to sell. What a product does is much more important than how it does it. 60% of the functionality of the average product is not used at all and is a waste of development resources. A viable product meets user demands by performing some basic functions. That means it must allow your customers to complete an entire task or project, and it must provide a good user experience. An MVP cannot be a user interface with many half-built tools and features.

The idea of building your product MVP is to provide your audience with a common understanding of how your product will work or look like, with a precise set of features. You don’t need to build a product having all features at once to attract your audience.

Now that we’ve established a minimum viable product, let’s figure out how to build an MVP.

How to build a minimum viable product?

how to build mvp

The whole concept of MVP is testing your idea and determining what would work. Therefore, you have to research your target audience, determine their needs, and ensure that MVP meets these needs.

However, the real problem lies in the lack of understanding of the steps involved in the MVP development process. Let’s look at the necessary steps involved in building an MVP.

1. Market research and ideate your product

Your idea may be excellent, but sometimes it just does not fit the market needs. According to a survey conducted by CB Insights, 42 percent of startups fail because there is no need in the market to be filled with the product people find interesting to develop. That means if your product doesn’t nail the problem, customers won’t go along with it to find a solution.

Before diving into the MVP development process, ensure that it fulfills the target users’ needs. Ask questions to yourself like – Which problem am I solving? How many people will benefit from my solution, and where are they located? One way is to conduct market research to understand the expectations of your target users’.

2. Analyze your competitors

Pay attention to what your rivals are offering and think of how your app will stand out. Conduct a competitor analysis if there are already similar products on the market. Don’t hesitate to adopt good ideas from your competitors and also learn from their mistakes. Make sure your method of development will avoid the pitfalls faced by others.

3. Express or define your product

You should have a clear idea in your mind concerning the primary values of your product. Since MVP is all about introducing these values to people, first outline them and then develop your MVP based on them. Define the core values of your product. 

To help you better express your product, figure out  – what value does your product offer its users? How can they benefit? Why would they buy the product? 

4. Define the design process and user journey

You need to look at the product from the customers’ perspective. Define the steps a user will take when using your product. Determine how to enable interactions among users so they can exchange value. The main goal is not only to add value but also to simplify the whole process.

5. List the important MVP features

Have a list of features for each stage and then prioritize them. Asking the question of what my user wants vs. what my user needs can help identify and prioritize the features. The only features you should include should be connected to your product’s overall goal. With the help of the Eisenhower matrix, you can make the final decision on what needs to be included in your MVP and what features can be introduced in later releases.

Eisenhower Matrix for MVP6. Develop your MVP

Now you have identified and understand your business or customer needs, have found the opportunity to address the pain points, and have decided what features to build and their priority, it’s time to go ahead and build an MVP. Remember, your product has to be easy to use, appealing, and most importantly, fit the primary user needs.

7. Build, Measure, and Learn

After launching your MVP, analyze everything, from user responses to the product itself. It is imperative that you must collect feedback from your users. Your users are the only people who can tell where the product is lacking and ensure market validation. This will help you generate new ideas grounded in user behavior research that will shape the subsequent versions of your product. It is important to continue to test, learn, and measure, and then test again until the product is finalized.

Although, the P in the MVP stands for Product. But instead, it’s a Process. Even after putting an MVP into people’s hands, you’re still going through the same motions as you were before – writing down hypotheses, testing them, learning, and iterating. Your aim is not to create a simpler product. It must be a solution that you can quickly introduce to the market to test your assumptions, and when you do, you will often find that you have to go back to the drawing board.

Build your MVP with Scalex

We love Startups for their passion and drive towards building innovative products to meet real-world challenges and their business expectations. Startups usually face many challenges in getting success and making their products accessible to the targeted audience.

Scalex understands the challenges you face when bringing your idea to life and has the necessary knowledge and tools to help you. Our MVP development services solve your primary business challenges and identify product-market fit as soon as possible by wisely investing time and money.

Our product development specialists follow a lean product development approach within the timelines to identify and build the best solution which can be launched to solve the primary problem and generate traction. We’ll help you boil down your idea to the core features and suggest a development approach and which technology stack will fit your concept and budget.

Are you ready to build a successful MVP?

build mvp with Scalex

Start building your product!

Building an MVP is a crucial step in developing a new product. If built right, it raises your chance for success significantly. Whether you’re doing it at a startup or trying it with a mature product, it’s a concept that you need to keep small, simple, and laser-focused. The key takeaway is that a Minimum Viable Product allows startups or organizations to start smaller and iteratively build up a better, more polished product.

About the Author

A Digital Marketer at Scalex, Nikita is devoted to her motto - to write simply and clearly about complicated things. Backed up with 6+ years of experience in marketing, she creates informative but exciting articles on technologies.

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