How To Start Your Product From Scratch

Minimum Viable Product

On a daily basis, we talk with clients who have a limited budget for their projects’ development. Almost every time they make the same "beginner’s mistake" – want everything at once. By "everything" they mean a full-time service/product that should immediately work smoothly as it is imagined in their heads. This is a catch that has to be avoided at any cost.

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Below you will find a sort of a guide that explains how to protect your new project from the inevitable mistakes that most beginners make. You’ll learn what a Minimum Viable Product is and all development stages that have to be followed for achieving a successful result for your project.

What is your target audience?

While consulting a client, we often notice that most customers when are planning development of their projects don’t take into account the potential target audience and the market where their product has to compete with similar products. Often we have to fix scenarios when projects are already in the launch and their developers fail enormously because before the launch they hadn’t calculated the possible risks in the highly-competitive market.

To avoid such a scenario it is strongly recommended to ask yourself such questions at the stage of pre-development of a new product:

  1. Does your potential target audience understand how to benefit from your product (or even how to use it)? Will people actually need your project/service idea? Should you build your product at all?
  2. Is your target audience ready to pay for a new product?
  3. Measure how much you have to spend per one customer for buying your product? Is it lower/higher than your potential profit received from one customer using your product?
  4. Gather any other available statistical data about a target audience before releasing any new product.
  5. Learn from all this knowledge to get a better idea of how to develop and launch your product.

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Ask yourself – can you actually develop product as you planned it?

The majority of customers wants to develop their project with as many features as possible.

However, it is important to understand that not all features implemented into your product will be useful for your target audience and won’t solve their problems/demands causing irritation and negative perception of the whole product.

Most of the startupers believe that the best is to develop an app with a crowd of features that won’t have any analogues. However, in their rush for the "perfect" product, they often forget to think about every feature being accepted by their potential customers.

For example, frequently customers ask us to develop a project so it could be used on all 3 mobile platforms – a "universal" app for iOS, Android, and WP. But in many cases, the launch of a product simply won’t make any sense. It is better to spend some time to find out which platform can deliver to the most of the potential customers and start the launch from a single platform. Besides, you can always expand your product/service and release it later on more platforms.

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Minimum Viable Product is our solution to the efficient product development

To minimize risks with project development you can use a special approach. Instead of developing a product with multiple features, it is better to focus on Minimum Valuable Product a.k.a. MVP. Basically it is a simplified version of your project having the most critical features without which the product won’t simply make any sense. Usually MVP is in the development within 1.5 – 2 months, then it is tested by a small target group to get their feedback and estimate the chances of its further "survival".

The aim of the early launch of MVP is saving time and money on development of a full version of your project, to gather statistical data about its functions from real customers and in case of need to correct the further development process.

MVP: the launch stages

1. You need to figure out your target audience;

2. Define the major problems of your target audience that can be solved by means of your product;

3. Attract the first customers who ready to pay for your product;

4. Constantly seek, research and “sniff” what you can do for improving your service – what your customers want to add, read their reviews, requests, and complaints. Talk with your customers.

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Important! MVP should be valuable for your potential customers – you need to value the problem that your full-time product is aimed to solve. You can get the right measurement only with the right early product like MVP.

The implementation of MVP

Start the first marketing research as soon as you release MVP after its development and launch. The research will help to gather the first audience for your product/project.

After getting the feedback from the first (usually the most loyal) customers you can make an assumption about the product’s future functionality development and how to promote your project in future.

Pay attention to the fact that you have invested little time and money and already received the first results from the market. This is the priceless information that you can rely on in your further development. And such data can be much closer to reality than you initial assumption.

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Important! The major purpose of MVP is to get information, research it thoroughly in order to save time and money. Many entrepreneurs perceive MVP as a full-time product with a set of features. But it is not like that. MVP’s purpose is research and expansion of the product’s functions with minimal expenses. Also, remember that after the release your product shouldn’t be WOW at once! But it has to be a fully functional one.

Examples

Below you will find the examples of the developers who released the successful product thanks to the above-described scheme:

  • Dropbox. To explain its publically open data storage for potential customers the developers published a 3-minute video tutorial showing in action Dropbox’ functions. They received the feedback from users at once.
  • Zappos. The businessman behind this product simply took few photos of shoes offered in a regular street shop and downloaded these pics to his website. He immediately received a few orders, bought these shoes in the shop and sent the pairs to his clients. The value of his service was the ability to buy rare shoes via the Internet. He didn’t spend any money for the promotion of the product. One useful feature made the project successful.
  • Twitter. Maybe you remember that the fame of this social network started from a small internal SMS-service with the motto "What are you doing?" used in group communication. Hashtags, reposts, lists came much later according to the users’ demands.
  • Zipcar. is an online service where one can rent a car for a short period with an hourly rate. Its owner figured out that most people don’t drive cars too often and don’t want to spend money on their maintenance, parking, and insurance. It was easier for them to rent a car for a while than to buy one. His business started from one car.

Summary

The launch of MVP is a wise approach for project development. MVP allows saving money on the early stages of development and implementing the product on the market as soon as possible. By means of MVP, you can plan the further course of your project’s development.

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If you are on a tight budget and have no money for complete development, then start with MVP. Prevent yourself from unnecessary expenditures and a waste of time. With successful MVP development, you can find more investors for your full-time project.

If you have enough money for the full project development, then MVP is also a good solution to get a successful product for your money receiving response from your target audience.

Roman Rimsha profile image
Roman Rimsha
Pre-Sales Consultant
*instinctools EE Labs

2 Responses

  1. I suggest not using the skateboard-to-car analogy.
    It’s a completely misleading analogy for MVP and iterative development.

    Can you name to me an example of a skateboard producing company who has successfully moved from skateboards to bicycles, and later cars?
    Or any baker who adds extra dough to a baked, frosted and decorated cupcake in order to turn it into a wedding cake?

    • admin says:

      Hello, Michael!
      Thank you for your comment! We really appreciate it!
      Sure, any skateboarding company transforms into an automobile manufacturer. We used this analogy to show the right way of MVP development. The fact is that the product you launch has to be a fully functional one from the beginning. But then there is a need for research and expansion of product’s functions. To demonstrate it, we used the analogies of vehicles and cakes.

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