Building an MVP is important before launching your product whether you are just starting out or a well-established company. But the scenarios are different in both cases. A fully grown company has funds and an already established customer base to promote its new product.
But what about startups? Well, they are usually high on enthusiasm but don’t enjoy many resources to boost their product launch. That is why I have come up with this blog in our MVP series to help startups build MVP to perfection even if they have fewer resources.
Why do startups succeed?
Earlier in MVP #3 “Why is an MVP important?”, I mentioned the top 5 reasons why startups succeed. But it doesn’t hurt to recap it here as well as it is perfectly relevant to the topic in discussion.
An MVP, one way or another, influences all of these factors positively while being affordable to build. This is why developing an MVP is a smart move that any startup can exploit to give themselves the best chance to make it big.
Why should you start out small with an MVP?
If you go all guns blazing, you are at the risk of running out of ammunition way too soon. In other words, starting big from the beginning usually sucks out your resources, leaving you high and dry with the risks of an untested market.
Starting small with an MVP balances your risk so that you move forward by keeping each step carefully. In fact many successful companies we see today also started small, validated their idea, and then worked their way up to make it big.
When Nick Swinmurn couldn’t find a pair of shoes online, he felt that he has an opportunity here. But he wasn’t sure and wanted to test the idea first. He built a website to see if people will buy shoes online. He clicked the photos of shoes from various stores and placed them on the website. As people came in to order, he then bought and delivered the shoes. The idea picked up and Zappos was eventually sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion.
Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, two out of its three co-founders, couldn’t afford to pay the rent of their apartment in San Francisco. So they thought to let some tourists stay in who were in the city to attend a conference but couldn’t find a hotel. They just clicked some pics of the apartment and uploaded them on a website. Soon they found 3 such people. They talked with them to gain confidence in this idea and the rest is history.
2 types of MVP for startups
Developing an MVP isn’t like “one size, fits all.” There are many types of MVPs you can build. But for the sake of clarity, I will categorize them into two categories so you can better understand how exactly an MVP can serve you.
Deciding on which kind of MVP you need is really important as it will help you fulfill your desired purpose and save you money. Now let’s look at the two categories of MVP.
If you are moving ahead with a hunch or just in the idea stage, low-fidelity MVPs can be life-saving for you. Low-fidelity MVPs help you find whether your idea has any steam or not. In other words, these are low-cost MVPs that determine if there is any demand for your idea.
Nothing gives you more accurate results than asking your target audience about your idea. You can just go around to ask them or distribute a survey form. But the key here is to really listen to their original views.
Starting a blog around your idea can give you a very high return with a small investment if your idea catches on to the audience. Once you start putting content around your idea, see whether your traffic or newsletter grows with time and take it as a green signal to go ahead.
If you don’t like to interview people, forums can be a great rescue for you. Forums is a website where a group of people discusses a topic. Find a forum around your idea and listen to what people are talking about. You can even submit your questions.
Create a single webpage to sell your product or services and use Google and Facebook ads to reach the right set of people. This can be a bit expensive but is a handy way to test your idea. See how many people convert to paying customers. The good news is that you don’t need your product ready. Once they click to pay, say that you aren’t ready with the product and will contact them soon.
Give your audience a real feel of your product. This will help them better visualize using your product to solve their problems. A prototype is easy to create. If you have got an artistic hand, you can do it yourself. Or you can hire someone to do it for you.
The ‘Fake Door’
Before bringing your idea into the physical world, you can inexpensively create a website with a signup form to check whether your target audience subscribes to your idea. Meanwhile, you can also stay in touch with them via email to shape your idea better.
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High-fidelity MVPs are grander than their counterparts we just discussed. The category of MVPs shows whether they work as desired or not. Does it fulfill the problem it was meant to be solved? This comes after your idea has passed through the low-fidelity MVP test. If your idea is well received, then it is worth making an investment in high-fidelity MVPs.
You may have guessed from the words that a digital prototype is just a simple low-investment digital version of your product so your target audience can go through it to give you feedback.
The “Wizard of Oz” MVP
The “Wizard of Oz” MVP means that you launch your product or service to see if people show up. However, if they did come, then you complete the transaction all by yourself. The example of Zappos we discussed earlier is the “Wizard of Oz” MVP in action.
The “Concierge” MVP
The “Concierge” MVP can be a hectic way to test your idea but it does the job perfectly. Here you manually do the stuff needed to provide your service which you can later automate once your idea picks up the pace.
The “Piecemeal” MVP
Piecemeal MVP urges you to use existing solutions and tools out there to provide your customers with product features. For example - you can take advantage of goods from other stores instead of purchasing an inventory beforehand. Or you outsource order delivery to third parties.
Wouldn’t it be great if you get blessed with people’s money to get going with your idea? This is crowdfunding. Once you register your idea in any crowdsourcing platform and set a financial target, people will decide whether they want to fund it and how much. If they help you reach your goal, it means that they have liked your idea.
Single-featured MVP just like it sounds. Here you focus on developing the most important feature of your idea and then test it with your audience. It brings focus and saves you time and money. A single-featured MVP is also easier to create.
How to build MVP for startups?
1. Understand the market
Even though you use MVP to understand the market to the depth, you need to have some idea of it before you build it as well. Who are the potential competitors? What do they don’t provide? How can you make your product better than any of your competitors’?
2. Tell your idea to the world
At first, the value of your idea won’t be apparent. Thus, you have to bring that into the light. Express to your target audience that: -
How your product will be better than any other product out there?
How your product will solve their problems?
What is the uniqueness of your idea?
3. Define buyer journey
This step clarifies how you will take your users from introducing your product to purchasing it. Simply stated, defining user flow means creating a buyer journey that smoothly takes them towards purchasing your product. The lesser the number of steps, the lower the resistance, and the better it will be.
4. Define features of your MVP
Now it’s time for some ruthless chopping of unnecessary features that you don’t need at this stage. It might be to tempting load your product with as many features as you can. But that’s a mistake. Brainstorm which features you absolutely need to have to offer your product. For example - having a payment gateway is necessary otherwise you won’t be able to do the transaction.
5. Build your MVP
I believe this is the step you might have been waiting for. But here you need to ensure that your MVP solves the core problem. Many startups make the mistake of developing a poor-quality MVP which keeps them away from launching their product successfully. So build a high-quality MVP and keep these points in mind: -
Build your MVP as per the needs of your target audience.
It should solve the core problem unfailingly.
Building and launching your MVP quickly will give you an edge.
Ensure the best user experience and customer service.
Be open to the customers’ feedback.
6. Make your MVP even better
“Aren’t we done yet?” No, my friend. Building your MVP and leaving it can be a costly mistake. This is why you need to collect feedback from your audience and strive to make your MVP even better. Watch your customers using your product and determine which important stuff have you overlooked.
Know the estimated cost of developing your MVP with our FREE MVP cost calculator and see how much you can save with us.
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When it’s the time to go for MVP development for your startup?
Usually, an MVP is built to test your idea and reduce your risk. However, there is more for MVP to give you. A great MVP has the potential to serve many purposes. Thus, it is up to you which one of them you are looking for. So depending upon your particular needs here is when you can look to build your MVP: -
You want to see your MVP in action so you and your customers can get a better idea of it.
You want to raise investment from the investors by showing them the positive response from your target audience towards your MVP.
You have limited time and resources to launch your product to the world.
Successful MVP startups turned billion-dollar companies
Many of the million and billion-dollar companies you see today started small by testing their ideas first with an MVP. Once they saw the potential of the idea and validated it with their target audience, they moved their way up to where they are today. Here are some of the most successful startups using MVP.
Is MVP useful for startups?
Yes. In fact, I believe it is more useful for startups than for established companies because startups are more at risk of failure. However, with a great quality MVP, startups reduce this risk to a great extent.
How can a startup build an MVP at a low cost?
You can hire remote developers to build a quality MVP at an affordable cost. We, here at Acquaint Softtech Private Limited, help our clients save up to 60% of their development costs.
How can I test an MVP?
There are a lot of ways you can test an MVP. So much so that I have dedicated an entire blog post to it. Check out my blog to know how you can test your MVP.
Why is an MVP important?
An MVP is important for the following reasons: -
It balances the risk and saves money and effort.
It helps understand the market and audience.
It helps to make a business and marketing strategy.
If you want to know more, I recommend you to check my blog article Why is an MVP important?
Is developing an MVP mandatory for success?
No. However, if you decide against developing an MVP, you run a greater risk of failure as you may not have tested the water properly before diving into it. MVP is the best bet for any company to make their product a big success.
Even though developing an MVP for a product first benefits both - well-renowned companies and startups - it is the latter for which it can be a real lifesaver. Why? Because established companies have the privilege of resources, but for startups, failure is not an option. Thus, balancing the risk of your startup with an MVP is the best step you can take for its bright future.