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MVP Development for Startups

An idea’s journey from light bulb to product launch is long, exciting, and chock full of pitfalls. Minimum viable products (MVPs) are the best way to ensure smooth sailing — but even MVP development has best practices to be followed and traps to avoid.

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MVPs validate great ideas into market-great ideas

Roughly speaking, ideas are validated in three major “tests” before turning into a successful product.

01

Proof-of-concept (POC): the theory of why and how the idea is a good one.

02

Prototype: the barebones design to prove that the idea works in real life.

03

Minimum viable product (MVP): the simplest possible iteration of the idea as a sellable product.

Not every great idea can be monetized, and neither the POC nor the prototype can properly indicate whether the idea has market potential.

An MVP, however, can get you closer to an accurate assessment of whether or not an idea can be successfully commercialized.

Although the logic behind MVP creation applies to every business developing a new product, startups are by far the greatest beneficiary of the build-measure-learn process enabled by MVPs. For startups, which are often founded on the back of a single good idea, MVPs are perhaps the greatest tool to achieve a version of that idea that best satisfies the market.

Startups have limited assets to work with. Great startups know that they must use the minimal amount of resources to obtain the maximum possible results, measuring their builds and learning as much as they can before the next iteration. Eventually, after a handful of iterations, a fine-tuned MVP is all that is needed for an early customer — or investor — to grasp the product’s value proposition.

The different types of MVP development for startups

In short, a properly executed software MVP sets a startup to:

  • Test if their business assumptions hold water

  • Gather user feedback to fix initial issues

  • Rapid-test iterations for a faster launch

  • Conserve valuable time and money

However, even MVPs can serve different purposes. For instance, a MVP designed to gauge whether clients are willing to pay for a solution will be built differently from one created to verify how scalable the idea can be. Even though the MVPs intend to explore the idea’s profitability in both cases, the ways in which they do so are distinct.

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Low-fidelity

Low-fidelity MVPs are the go-to choice for startups looking to test their ideas without investing significant resources upfront. These MVPs are as bare bones as possible, and include subtypes such as:

  • Landing page MVP – A single web page that describes the startup’s product or service without actually building the product. This allows startups to gauge user interest and gather email sign-ups to validate the demand for their concept with user data.

  • Flintstone MVP – As with the cartoon of the same name, this approach uses manual processes to simulate the product’s intended automated functionalities. Startups can test the market with a makeshift, but hands-on solution to understand whether their idea resonates with potential users, identifying pain points and user preferences along the way.

  • Concierge MVP – A highly personalized experience to a small group of early users. Usually, team members or even the founders act as concierges to deliver the core service manually, learning directly from customer interactions and making real-time adjustments in a controlled environment.

High-fidelity MVPs

High-fidelity MVPs, on the other hand, represent a more polished and advanced software development stage. These MVP types, although still far from the final product, aim to deliver a more complete user experience with a limited set of features. Their subtypes include:

  • Single-feature MVP – This approach picks that one core functionality or feature that sets the idea apart and runs with it. By developing one single feature to a high standard, this style showcases how to attract users with a compelling value proposition and capture their attention with a unique selling point before scaling.

  • Piecemeal MVP – This method involves building a series of interconnected “mini-MVPs” that, when combined, form a functional product. Each piece represents a different feature or aspect of the product, enabling the sort of incremental software development, testing, and validation perfect for ideas that require multiple features to deliver value.

MVP development step-by-step

Your MVP build should be rooted in understanding both the product development process and the user experience of your solution as a series of steps.

For example, if you're building an ecommerce mobile app, you need to think through how many steps it takes a user to go from opening the app to making a purchase.

Designing the app for quick and easy interaction is essential for the MVP's functionality, and a low-barrier interface means more user engagement and more customer feedback in future iterations. Ideally, you also want to make the user experience enjoyable, even at the MVP stage.

Here’s the step-by-step of MVP development for startups, from conceptualization to launch and beyond:

Research and product idea

  • Market needs – Start by researching the market to identify existing gaps or problems that your product can solve, and the best angle to solve it. Understanding the specific needs within your target market is the foundation of a successful MVP.

  • Target audience – Define your target audience or user persona. Knowing your users' demographics, behaviors, and preferences will guide the product development towards a solution that resonates with them.

  • Competitors – Study your competitors to gain insights into what has worked for them and where they might have fallen short. This competitive analysis helps you position your MVP more effectively in the market.

MVP strategy planning

  • Establish long-term goals – Clearly define the long-term objectives you want to reach with your product. This provides a vision to work towards even as you focus on the MVP.

  • Determine your success KPIs – Set key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure the MVP's success. These could include user sign-ups, engagement rates, or conversion metrics.

  • Plan the user journey – Map out the user journey from initial interaction to achieving their goal within your product. This helps identify critical touchpoints (and shortcomings) for user satisfaction and conversion.

  • Define core features and requirements – Identify the essential features and functionalities that must be included in your MVP to address the identified market needs. Remember that while must-haves are mandatory, nice-to-haves aren’t.

  • Choose the MVP type – Decide whether you'll go with a low-fidelity or high-fidelity MVP, considering your idea, resources, timeline, and target audience's expectations.

  • Outline a marketing campaign – Plan a marketing strategy that will create awareness and attract your target audience to your MVP once it's ready for launch.

UI/UX design

  • Design a user-friendly MVP – Create a visually appealing and intuitive user interface (UI) that aligns with your brand and makes it easy for users to navigate.

  • Map out a clear navigation structure – Develop a clear and logical navigation structure to ensure that users can easily find and access the core features and functionalities.

  • Prototype your MVP’s UX – Design prototypes and wireframes to visualize the user experience (UX). This allows you to validate the user flow and functionality before investing in product development.

Development & testing

  • Build the MVP – Develop your MVP by focusing on the core features and functionalities. Avoid unnecessary complexity.

  • Test functionalities before release – Conduct thorough testing to ensure that all features work as expected and are free of critical bugs. This is essential for a smooth user experience upon launch.

Launch & feedback

  • Monitor performance – After the MVP is live, monitor its performance by tracking user engagement, conversion rates, and other relevant KPIs.

  • Gather feedback and analyze it – Actively collect user feedback through surveys, user interviews, and analytics. Analyze this feedback to identify areas for improvement and refinement.

  • Learn the feedback loop – Use the feedback loop to continuously update and enhance your MVP. Iterate on the product based on user input and emerging market trends to drive its success in the long term.

Common mistakes in MVP development and how to avoid them

MVPs, while a smart and time-tested strategy, come with their own share of challenges. Mistakes during MVP development for startups can be costly in terms of time, resources, and missed opportunities.

By learning from these common mistakes, startups can maximize the potential of their MVPs and increase their chances of building a successful product that truly resonates with users and the market.

Misreading the market demand

The textbook mistake in MVP development is misreading market demand. It often happens when startups assume they understand their target audience without conducting in-depth research, and it can lead to building a product that doesn't resonate with users or address their actual pain points.

To avoid this, it’s essential to conduct thorough market research and constant interaction with potential users for feedback, analysis, and adaptation.

Wrong prioritization of features

Another very common pitfall is choosing the wrong features for the MVP, often driven by a desire to showcase a wide range of functionalities. Prioritization in MVPs is crucial; including too much can lead to delays, increased costs, and unnecessary complexity. Startups must identify the core features that deliver the most value and focus on those.

A well-prioritized MVP allows for quicker time-to-market and easier validation of the product concept. Additional features can be incorporated in later iterations based on user feedback and evolving requirements.

Shipping a masterpiece

Startups sometimes fall into the trap of striving for perfection and attempt to ship a masterpiece right from the start. However, an MVP's purpose is to validate an idea, not to be a fully polished product. Trying to achieve perfection leads to longer software development cycles and unnecessary resource allocation.

Instead, focus on delivering a minimum viable solution that demonstrates the concept's value. Perfection can come later, in subsequent versions of the product.

Mistaking “minimum” for “shoddy”

On the other hand, some startups misunderstand the “minimum” in “minimum viable product” as an excuse to build a half-baked, subpar solution. While it's essential to keep the MVP scope lean, it should still meet a certain level of quality.

A truly "minimum" viable product should offer a functional, usable experience that provides real value to users. It's about finding the right balance between the minimum features and viable quality to create a product that users find worthwhile.

Poor marketing

Even a brilliant MVP, if unnoticed, will hinder the startup's ability to attract users and gather the necessary feedback to keep the ball rolling. To avoid this, it's paramount to plan a comprehensive marketing strategy alongside MVP development, building anticipation and awareness around the upcoming release to create a ready user base upon launch.

Startups should also be ready to adjust their marketing approach based on the feedback and data they collect during the MVP phase itself. Effective marketing ensures that the product reaches the right audience and gains traction before the actual release.

Ready to see your greatest idea take shape?

Count upon our MVP engineers to iterate and reiterate the best version of your solution.

Our MVP development services

MVP development requires professionals to understand not only the entire process of product development, but how to manage and leverage constrained resources. Building an MVP is all about the correct identification of a product’s key value proposition, together with prioritizing the features that will make it flourish. And that only comes with experience.

Here’s what our experts excel at:

MVP development consulting

  • Research and business analysis – We delve deep into your concept to help you define requirements, assess potential risks, and analyze your competitors, ensuring that your MVP is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape. Expect a thorough analysis that flags the pain points and opportunities that will guide the app development process.

  • UI/UX design – We provide expertise in UI/UX design, including prototyping and user journey mapping, to enable a product that not only functions flawlessly but also delivers an exceptional user experience. Our engineers know how vital this is for capturing and retaining user interest while validating your product's concept.

  • Support – Our consulting services extend to the technical side of your MVP as well. We assist you in making crucial tech stack decisions, including architecture and coding languages. Our experienced team ensures that your MVP's foundation is solid and scalable, aligning with your long-term vision and growth plans.

MVP development services

  • Building – Our MVP development services for startups cover the entire software development process, from conceptualization to the final product. We take your vision and turn it into a functional MVP, ensuring that the chosen features are developed with precision and efficiency, and prioritize delivering a minimum viable solution that aligns with your goals and market needs.

  • Testing – Before your MVP goes live, we rigorously test its functionalities to identify and correct any issues or bugs. We ensure that your solution is robust and user-ready upon launch, providing a seamless experience to your initial users.

  • Collecting feedback – Once your MVP is live, we assist in the collection of user feedback and data. We help you establish feedback mechanisms and gather valuable insights from real users, enabling you to understand user behavior and preferences, and to identify areas for improvement.

  • Improvements – Continuous improvement is key to the success of your MVP. Our MVP development services include iterative app development, where we take user feedback and evolving market demands into account to make necessary improvements and enhancements. This ongoing process ensures that your product remains competitive and ahead of the expectations of your customers.

Our success story

Case study

Thirty Madison

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Healthtech

This virtual-first healthcare leader, in need of an app to deliver world-class care to patients with niche conditions, partnered with Vention through client referral. Starting with an MVP and just a few developers, we worked on the backend and DevOps to establish a robust product that would eventually become a complete app. Our partnership ultimately lasted for four and a half years, evolved to include 12 devs, and was key to Thirty Madison reaching unicorn status with the app’s launch.

Our clients say it best

We’ve been building MVPs for over two decades now, with great partnerships resulting in amazing products and generous praise. Have a look at what our clients feel about our work on Clutch.co.

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Tommy Mei
Tommy Mei

CTO, PhoneWagon

“We needed to build an MVP product to show investors. Vention provided resources to build out this product. After we developed an MVP, they helped us optimize what we already had in place. They helped us create a better version, fix some technical issues we had, move to a newer tech stack, and include new features.”

Jon Wade
Jon Wade

CTO, Union54

“We were able to put our MVP into production within 3 months of inception and continue to issue new releases on a regular basis. This has allowed us to capture new clients on an ongoing basis… The breadth and depth of talent that they have on tap is impressive, account management is also excellent — if any issues arose, they were swiftly dealt with in a positive manner.”

Why Vention?

A proven track record

  • 20+ years of experience

  • 500+ award-winning clients served

  • Startup clients such as ClassPass, Dialogue, Carson Living

Talent to build what you need

  • 3,000+ dedicated developers on tap

  • 30+ verticals and 25+ technologies

  • Awarded by Inc. 5000, IAOP 100, FT, and more

Quick to start and to scale

  • CVs within 48 hours

  • 2 weeks from contact to kickoff

  • Zero operational overhead

Our work

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