Every startup that wants to implement its brilliant idea as soon as possible tries to direct all its efforts, financial resources, and, most importantly, time, to present its product to the world that can satisfy certain needs. Regardless of whether the product is software or an application, startups throw all their efforts into creating a product and launching it.
Unlike large companies with huge budgets, startups have slightly different goals. Their task is to present a powerful product, but to expend as little effort and money as possible; provide customers with value and a solution to their problems, but develop a product with limited staff, a small budget, and a limited number of resources.
At first, it may seem that the product you want to create will be a sure-winning idea. However, in practice, this may not be the case. Startups cannot risk everything they have. That is why they are engaged in MVP development.
Using this approach is the most popular solution among many startups whose main idea is lean production. Standout examples of such companies are Dropbox, Foursquare, Amazon, Airbnb, and many more.
We’ll cover what this approach is all about, what the goals of creating an MVP are, and the strategic steps you need to take to develop it. This is personal experience from the Altamira team.
Definition of the term
The development cycle of a new product goes through several stages. Once you have complete information about your target audience, as well as a ready-made solution that can meet the needs of consumers, you have everything you need to move on to the first stage of testing an idea.
It is about creating a Minimum Viable Product or MVP for short. As a custom software vendor, your job is to provide your target audience with a product that has the minimum number of features.
This is not the final product. Its goal is to collect as many user reviews as possible to understand if you are moving in the right direction and whether you should continue to engage in further detailed product development. Positive feedback will signal that you can start the refinement and improvement phase of the product.
This approach allows startups to minimize the amount of effort put into product development by the team, as well as time and finances.
Many mistakenly believe that this is some kind of prototype. This is just a variant of testing an idea to see if it will be successful or not.
What are the goals of creating such a product?
Most companies using this approach mainly pursue the following goals:
- Start getting the product to market as soon as possible;
- Minimize the number of resources used to get feedback from real users;
- Find out what appeals to and what repels the target market.
Strategic steps to take
If you do not intend to put all the resources you have at stake before starting to engage in mobile app development, software, or any other product, then before you start developing an MVP, you should take the following steps:
1. Clearly define your company’s goals
Before you start brainstorming what features you want to test initially, you should think about whether this is really what you need at the current moment.
The goals of creating an MVP and the goals of your company should intersect and match. What should these goals be? Do you want to increase the profitability of the company in the coming year? Do you have limited resources that you are not willing to spend before you get confirmation that you are moving in the right direction? The answers to these questions will tell you if your company should be thinking about starting to develop such a product.
Moreover, you need to understand what do you want to get from MVP development? Can a new product open the way for you to a new target audience? This is especially true for those companies that already have other products. Creating such a product is a great idea if you intend to target new audiences.
However, if focusing on new target audiences is not your primary goal, then you should postpone this approach until a more appropriate time. Instead of thinking about developing a new product, think about improving and adding new features to existing products.
2. Make a list of specific solutions your product can offer
Since your product will be endowed with only minimal functionality, you will not be able to offer users everything that you have in stock. You should start by making a list of specific solutions that you are ready to offer.
After that, prioritize them for users. A strategic approach is important here. First, you need to choose the highlight that will attract the attention of your audience. It’s like a “hook” when you write an elevator pitch – something that will immediately make users pay attention to you.
To find and select this hook, you can collect the following data:
- The methodical examination of the target audience, including their requirements and problems;
- Research of the products, revenue, and marketing strategies of the major competitors;
- Data on how soon you can add all other features to your product, in case of positive user feedback.
Based on such data, you will understand what feature or features your product should have in the early stages of its development.
3. Outline a plan of action for product development
Many may have the misunderstanding that it doesn’t matter what the MVP looks like. It may seem that only the function you choose to test is important. Your product should be completely ready and configured, but functionally limited.
This means that everything must be thought out to the smallest detail, that is, it must be viable. If you offer users a product that looks crooked and askew with a lot of unfinished details, then even those minimal resources that you spend on its development will be wasted.
Having launched such a product, it is important to focus on what kind of feedback you will receive. A successful MVP does not mean that you can start developing a full-fledged product according to a predetermined plan. Rather, based on feedback, you can ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the product. Weaknesses will need to be rethought and ways found to turn them into strengths.