What do highly successful apps like Facebook, Zappos, and Uber have in common?
They all started as something much simpler than they are today.
They’re mature apps, the result of years of development and large amounts of capital. Developing an app of this scope requires a lot of time and a large investment – a fact that is commonly underestimated.
This is where the concept of a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, comes into play. An MVP product is a product with only a basic set of features enough to capture the attention of early adopters and make your solution unique. It includes only the features that allow you to release it to market, that solve a core problem for a set of users. The goal is to provide immediate value, quickly, while minimizing development costs.
What an MVP entails can be very subjective, differing from organization to organization based on business needs, industry, and what the competition is doing. In some verticals, for example, the minimal feature set for an app could be quite complex as it is industry standard. Nonetheless, there are major benefits to choosing this iterative method, over the all or nothing approach.
Key Benefits of an MVP Explained:
The MVP allows you to get a version of your product to market early to test your business concept. By offering the core set of features rather than a full-blown, feature-heavy product, you can test key hypotheses, gather user information and intelligence, get your product to market quickly, and keep costs down.
MVPs are initial installments of what is to be a larger, more complex product. The more features added and the more resources required to build up the app, the higher the cost. MVPs allow you to demonstrate the market validity of a product and create a business case for investing more into its development. Therefore, if you are seeking funding from stakeholders – whether from within an organization or from external investors – you have a strong, viable product ready that will strengthen your position.
Since a Minimum Viable Product entails going to market with core features and functionalities, it allows you to begin building up a user base and gain insight into what works and what does not. This is vital information as it allows product teams to use data to make decisions on future iterations of the product, including what other features to add, what aspects will help increase sales/ROI, and exactly where you should allocate budget.
As mentioned above, mature products are the result of years of development, with the price tag to match. But because these apps were created iteratively over a longer period, the cost is spread over time, often with a reinvestment of the revenue generated from earlier versions.
MVPs allow you to take the same approach by driving the highest value for your business, within the shortest amount of time while minimizing cost. Providing immediate value is at the center of releasing the MVP, and as you gain more users and gather more information to inform the direction of the product, you can begin to invest more (and more intelligently).
Note that, an MVP should not be confused with a Prototype, although, prototypes are very valuable in their own right as pre-cursors to development as they lay the groundwork for defining your MVP.
The key takeaway here is that a Minimum Viable Product allows you to start smaller and iteratively build up to produce a better, more polished product – all in a way that allows you to leverage user intelligence to make the best product decisions. With every release version, the product evolves to maximize ROI and move towards a fully mature application.
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