What do Facebook, Airbnb, Spotify, and Uber have in common? All these popular apps started small. Like really small. In fact, you can find out just how small here. They didn’t achieve success overnight. They took the risk and came out with MVPs – minimum viable products. It helped them properly assess and work on the opportunity to succeed. This is precisely what an MVP is for.
We’ve spoken a lot about MVPs here, including how you can start the MVP development process to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about your initial product and why outsourcing them can often be a great, cost-effective way to start.
However, we’re going to show the key benefits and advantages of a minimum viable product and why most companies today choose to begin life as an MVP without first building a large number of features.
What is a Minimum Viable Product?
A minimum viable product is a simpler, leaner version of your ideal product or vision.
Although it does not yet carry all the features and functionalities you want to offer, it does have the most useful and interesting ones.
Features that may appeal to a set of early adopters keen to get their hands on your product and provide that all-important user feedback during the early stages of your product development.
Companies and developers often come out with an MVP before going full-scale because it is faster and works well in engaging consumers, therefore helping them gauge the product’s viability.
While there will be fewer features than what you planned for your final product, it allows a team to test assumptions about a product or service with the least effort.
The core concept at the heart of building an MVP is testing, testing, and keeping testing.
The reason for doing this is so that you and your team end up developing a successful product that you know for sure your ideal customers want, rather than basing all your decisions on assumptions, saving you multiple headaches and reducing the cost to develop in the future.
Companies such as Airbnb, Spotify & Facebook all started as MVPs
The Main Goals For Building an MVP are;
- For businesses to create an impact among users,
- To hype up the product,
- To collect feedback from the early adopters.
- To test the initial product features
- To challenge the company’s assumptions
An MVP helps determine if it is reasonable to create the full-fledged version of the product.
Companies, particularly startups, also prefer coming out with an MVP to a full product because it saves time and costs.
However, that’s not all.
There are a whole host of reasons why startups should consider building an MVP.
Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Building a Minimum Viable Product
If you have a startup or are about to start one, building an MVP for your new product offers many benefits, from testing the latest version of a new product to finding early adopters who become loyal fans. MVPs are the talk of San Francisco town.
Avoid building one at your own risk.
Before taking a product to market, companies must test features currently in development. Companies such as Airbnb, Spotify & Facebook all started as MVPs, taking their idea, software, and product testing assumptions about the core customer process to develop a concept that offers more solutions to future customers and improves functionality and user experience.
An MVP can do all of this and allows a team to collect feedback high in value to the product’s development team. While the MVP process is not set in stone – it is dependent on your particular product and niche, the benefit of building an MVP remains consistent, regardless of whether your product is in software or hardware.
Let’s take a look at some more benefits of building a minimum viable product (MVP).
An MVP Focuses On The Core Features and Functionalities
A minimum viable product allows you to focus on the essential features and functions of your product. This way, you can clearly identify which ones have the most value to your users.
Zooming in on your ideal market is also easier.
If you come out with a full-featured app, it won’t be easy to test your product’s viability with the right audience. A full-featured app does not allow you to test assumptions about your product either and could end up causing your business to lose a lot of money on a concept that, once launched, fails to solve the problem that your ideal customer is looking for.
Developing a fully-featured product before you’ve had a chance to test the market could lead to your company collecting a lot of useless data.
It will not allow you to validate your product appropriately. It’s better to start small, test, and continue developing what works and discarding what doesn’t.
MVPs Allow Startups to Understand Their Customers Better
MVPs are intended to draw feedback and reactions from your target customers, and this is vital in helping you understand them.
What they like and want, what satisfies them, what they’re willing to spend. These are factors that help you understand consumer behavior.
As such, you’ll know which tools are a hit and which ones you should consider eliminating or improving.
Starting with a minimum viable product is the best way to connect and build a relationship with your customers.
With a strong customer-developer relationship, trust will follow, and your early adopters will help you market your product through word of mouth.
This is important, especially if you’re looking for potential partners and additional funding.
An MVP Lets Startups Release Their Products Faster
Developing a fully featured product takes time, but you won’t have to worry about this if you release an MVP.
Since your development team is focused on building the core functions, coming out with the product on the scheduled release date – or even earlier – is a guarantee.
Moreover, your developers will improve their efficiency as they won’t be time-pressured.
Also, you and your team can assess the product’s initial performance thoroughly because of the more efficient and quicker workflow.
Gathering customers’ feedback and analyzing them will be more convenient. Getting your product out faster has other benefits too.
From gaining a foothold on the market to coming up against a lack of competitors. An early release of your product’s core version can help your business gain loyal users with minimum effort.
These early users are vital to the development of your idea. They can help solve functionality problems which could save you a lot of money in the future since it provides a focus for your product development.
Once your MVP has been launched, especially if it’s on mobile, collecting data about your user’s behavior is the key concept behind testing your business assumptions. The earlier you can do this, the better.
MVPs Allow Startups To Improve and Scale Their Products Easily
Around 74% of startups fail because of premature scaling. Building a minimum viable product is the best solution for this problem.
MVPs leave a lot of room and opportunities for updates and upgrades. As such, adding new features and functionalities and adopting new technologies will be easy. You do not have to create another app or product.
You need to scale up and upgrade your MVP.
Building a fully featured version of a new product is costly. Like, very expensive. Many startups start with limited budgets or are even bootstrapping their business.
When developing a product, do yourself and your investors a favor and save on costs where you can. You also want to give yourself the biggest advantage possible, and building and scaling an MVP is the best way to do this.
Most products we see today are the culmination of thousands/millions of tests that have allowed their initial MVP to grow at a steady rate.
Airbnb was not built overnight. Its features, software, and functionality are the product of a business that scaled an MVP over time through testing minor features and branding and moving forward with what worked.
No company in the world, especially a startup, wants to build a product and watch it slowly fail.
An MVP Allow Startups to Create a User-friendly App
A minimum viable product, unlike a full-featured one, is “lighter” and more user-friendly.
Your early adopters do not have to deal with clutter and confusion.
An MVP is the Marie Kondo version of your business.
We all feel a little better once we’ve cleared out the clutter.
An MVP does this for your business.
It removes all the unnecessary noise, allows your users to focus on what provides them value, and allows the development team to see which features of the software help create value without getting distracted.
Creating something user-friendly is absolutely vital during the early stages of development.
Your early adopters are crucial to the MVP process, and you don’t want to scare them off by creating clunky and confusing software.
Users are more likely to forgive an app with limited features but are clean and sleek rather than full of useless perks that make the user experience confusing.
The idea of an MVP is to provide value to the market upon release while also attempting to validate an idea that attempts to provide a solution to a customer’s problem.
Functionality and colorful branding matter less when you want your software to churn out valuable data. You can’t get data if your users bounce out of your app because it doesn’t make sense.
MVPs Help Reduce Costs
No company in the world, especially a startup, wants to build a product and watch it slowly fail.
Aside from all the wasted time and effort, this will also cost the business a lot of money.
You wouldn’t want to be a startup that fails even before they start creating an impact in the market, would you?
There are a lot of reasons why a product fails.
One contributing cause is customer satisfaction. If your users do not like your product, your competition will benefit.
With a minimum viable product, this would not happen.
You won’t be coming out with a full-featured app.
The costs are minimal, and so are the risks.
Best of all, it allows you to apply changes and improvements according to your customer’s needs and turn one failure into a successful venture.
For startups, watching your bottom line like a hawk is common practice. Money is tight, revenue is hard to come by, and you need to manage costs between marketing, development, personnel & overheads.
Wasting cash on building a fully-featured product is not a smart way to validate an idea.
An MVP Can Attract Potential Partners and Investors
Getting investors is not easy.
However, if you have a minimum viable product, all you have to do is provide your partners and investors with actual consumer data.
You can also choose to have them try your MVP.
This gives them a chance to test your app personally.
Your chances of getting additional investors are definitely better with an MVP.
Achieve Validated Learning About Customers
Throughout this article, we’ve spoken highly about the importance of validating an idea through the use of your MVP.
But it’s also important to note that your MVP can also validate the market and let your business know if your product will provide real value.
Finding out whether there is demand for your product is as important as working out whether your product actually works.
When Airbnb developed their MVP, they weren’t sure whether people would be open to allowing strangers in their homes.
From their personal experience, they felt a though there was a market for it, they needed to make sure.
Creating an MVP initially targeted a small subsection of the market, which allowed them to achieve validated learning about their customers and understand more about who their ideal customer was and what they wanted from their product.
Now that you know the benefits and advantages that a minimum viable product offers for startups, it’s time to determine what to do to begin the process.
Facebook, Airbnb, and Spotify started as someone’s idea.
Airbnb, for example, was a clever idea of friends Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, who had rent problems in San Francisco.
To offset their expenses, they decided to turn their homes into cheap accommodation alternatives.
They opened their living room and set up mattresses for conference participants and travelers. The two eventually developed a simple website that offered short-term “AirBed & Breakfast” services, hence the name Airbnb.
So, yes, start going through your ideas now.
Set them into writing and visual illustrations. It’s also important to work with an experienced and highly skilled development team that can help evaluate the viability of your project.
We’ve spoken about the benefits of outsourcing your development process here.
Outsourcing can have a lot of benefits, especially for cost-conscious startups that lack certain technical development skills.
By freeing up your time and employing a team of dedicated developers who know how to create a successful MVP, you can apply your time to focus more on your specific strengths.
Lastly, don’t forget to study your target market before turning your plans into action.