Here are 8 objectives that play a crucial role in developing a successful MVP, depicted from our experience so far.
First things first. What is an MVP?
An MVP is a “minimum viable product” that consists of a narrow set of features that can still bring value to the target clients, has been developed using minimum resources and has the goal to prove that your problem-solution hypothesis is valid.
1. Your goal is to validate
You have a new idea that you want to develop, excitement has reached the ceiling and you are ready to start developing your new app.
Are you sure that your product is solving a real problem?
Are you sure that your extremely ambitious idea will actually be used by someone?
The below image is a Problem-Solution canvas that can help entrepreneurs validate the solutions they found.
The truth is that about 42% of the startups fail because they couldn’t find the product-market fit. What does this mean?
Basically they created a product that nobody wants to pay for, despite all the work and passion they invested, customers are cruel and with not even a blink of an eye they will completely reject your product.
Get customers involved in your project as soon as possible and bring as much feedback as possible. As described in the diagram below the main purpose of the MVP is to help you transit from the ‘problem-solution’ stage to a ‘product-market fit’ stage.
Tl;dr Focus on the key features that your customers will love and that won’t take you long to build. Then get feedback and iterate.
2. Are you solving a burning problem?
You’ve thought carefully about your product and you are ready to discuss it with a developer. You do it but then surprise! It will take them a year to build and it will cost you a fortune.
But don’t worry, there is a huge chance your project scope is too wide and you have a lot of features that are not directly solving the “hair on fire problem” you promised to solve.
Plan a roadmap, work on boundaries and learn to differentiate between wants and needs. Create a clear product requirements list and try to prioritise your features.
According to Adam Nash’s technique described in the “Guide to Product Planning” you can split your features in 4 categories:
- Metrics Movers – features that will significantly move the target business metrics
- Customer requests – features that were specifically requested by actual or potential clients
- Delights – innovative features that have been generated based on insights
- Strategic – features included for strategic reasons that could help achieve future goals.
Tl;dr, Focus on one particular feature that brings the most value, one particular use case and start with a niched market. Then get feedback and iterate.
3. What’s your competitive advantage?
First of all, you have to know your competition well. Research what they are doing, how they are doing and who they are doing it for. Read their reviews and see what people are saying about them.
Think about what differentiates you and write down the key aspect that you do best. Tailor your product around that particular aspect.
The main competitive advantages that you can play in your advantage could be:
- Product / Technology – Found a need in the market and developed an improved product with innovative features or technologies.
- Costs – Managed to find a way to produce an existing product but with lower costs.
- Positioning – Positioning your product on the market differently, tackling new potential customers that are have not been served properly before.
- Execution – Better development techniques, better experience, more creative marketing or strategy. All could play as an important competitive advantage.
- Timing – Arriving on the market when your customers are prepared for your product. If your product requires cultural or behaviour change, the moment you launch your product could be a deal breaker.
Tl;dr Do best what you do differently.
4. Time to market is crucial
Time to market is the total time required to get your product in the wild. From the stage where the idea was just generated to the moment it’s up and running.
It’s 2020 and you are competing with large and well-connected players with huge pockets. There is no time to think twice about your moves. You’ll never know if the move you make will be the right one so you’d better just go for it.
Remember. While you are sketching your revolutionary idea, another 1000 companies are probably already working on it.
Tl;dr Start. Fail. Re-start…
5. First release has to crash
If your first release doesn’t crash, then you launched too late.
Your first version of the product doesn’t have to be perfect, getting your idea in the wild faster is much more important than having a polished app. Remember. If your solution solves a burning problem, your early adopters will probably join anyway and that’s what you need at this stage.
A great read about how being quick and learn from mistakes is crucial is “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
Tl;dr Sell it than fix it.
6. Choose the tech wisely
Choose the tech stack that best supports your initial use case. Remember, speed is important and over engineering at this point is not a great idea. Act fast, develop quick and gain traction. You can always re-write a few lines of code later on if it’s really necessary.
6.1 Why languages matter?
Imagine being in a room trying to work with people from all around the globe without understanding each other’s language or a commonly used language, basically not being able to understand each other. It could be solved by having one or multiple translators in the room but things would get more expensive and slower.
Same applies to a tech project within a team. Technologies work with multiple languages but having a project developed in a single language from A to Z can bring numerous benefits: faster development, smaller teams can handle the entire project, cheaper prices, easier maintenance and the list can move on. Of course there might be disadvantages in some case where top performance and precision is crucial and only particular technologies can offer that benefits.
6.2 The power of communities
Technologies usually come with a fan base behind, made out of eager developers. Usually the bigger the fan base the better the support the organisation offers to that particular technology.
On top of this, the developer community has a sharing mindset and constantly develops tools that make each other’s life easier in the ecosystem. An example of such tool is called a “library” and is a collection of implementations which serves a very specific and modular purpose and has been developed a developer from the community.
A lot more about how to choose your MVP’s tech can be found in our article: CHOOSING YOUR MVP’S TECH
7. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Do your research well before you start. Many of the features you want to build might already exist, so you’d better spend a few hours researching and gathering all the tools you can use to achieve your goals faster. Don’t get obsessed with building everything from scratch.
There are a few starting points you can think about:
- Build your landing page using a template. – Get your first online presence really quick by using tools like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, platforms where you can find tons of templates that could boost the development time enormously.
- Use tools to hack your workflows. Use tools like Zapier, Mailchimp or Intercom to automate some of your workflows, marketing strategies or customer support.
- Use plugins or libraries. Depending on the technologies you are using it is advised to always research the available already made tools. Some of them could be really useful and save you a lot of time.
Tl;dr Read, listen and play it smart
8. Mobile app or Web app?
There is a huge dilemma among entrepreneurs if you should develop your idea on either mobile or web platforms initially. From our experience, we can say that unless it’s really crucial for your project or business, try to avoid mobile development in the initial stages.
It’s way slower to develop, much harder to deploy on the stores and more expensive. Getting approved in the Google and Apple store could take you even a month. Getting further updates live is also a lot slower than on the web.
Here are a few pros and cons for each platform to help you tackle this battle:
- Faster and easier development
- Easier to maintain
- Don’t require app store approval therefore can be deployed and updated at any time.
- No offline support
- Less advanced than mobile apps
- More advanced
- Can work offline
- Can integrate different sensors or phone hardware
- Harder to maintain and update due to having to be approved by the stores.
- Slower and more expensive to develop
Tl;dr Developing a web based product is much faster and will help you gain traction faster if you do it the right way.
Those were the 8 objectives that play a crucial role in developing a successful MVP that have been gathered during our journey developing mobile and web applications at QwertyBit.