The idea behind building an MVP is launching a minimum version of your idea at a quite early stage, making a small monetary investment. This will help you to validate your concept through client feedback, continuing to iterate your product towards a more user-oriented result. Core benefits of developing an MVP:

  • Gaining focus on the core value of your product
  • Validating your idea & further defining your audience
  • Saving time & money, avoiding rework

It basically enables reaching an equilibrium between your company’s value proposition, making it meet users needs and preferences, by testing the concept with a minimum investment, minimizing errors through constant iteration applying the information gathered through client feedback and in-depth customer base analysis.At CodigoDelSur we’ve created over 200 digital products, which include startup success cases like Skout (over 220M users), Kindara (#3 fertility app in the US), and Toymail (received funds from Shark Tank), for example. This has allowed us to develop an in-depth understanding of how MVP development should unfold in order to be more efficient and, most importantly, user-oriented. So today we want to talk about what makes an MVP more likely to be successful.

1- What is an MVP, and why is it the first step to entering the market?

An MVP is a Minimum Viable Product, a functional app with the minimum set of features required to provide value to users. It includes launching the platform for going to the market or, alternatively, presenting the project to investors without going to market.There are key points to take into consideration for the correct development of an MVP:

  • Clear definition of the core concept. Your app must be a solution to a concrete problem your users experience, it should improve their lifestyle or make it simpler, nicer or less annoying in some way.
  • Knowing your target audience and their interests can make you identify what could be the best way to execute this idea in a way that your users will find it friendly and actually usable.  
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of market research. Learn about similar products in the market, check reviews done by users and differentiation strategies that can apply to your product.

2- Going down the development path

Starting to develop your project is both thrilling and quite stressful, as many changes go down in the market -and your own mind & business plan- throughout the development process while you’re spending your money, usually under a tight deadline. Important things to consider before starting the development process:

  • Should you go for the full MVP, or should you consider a previous step, such as a non-functional prototype? So once you launch your MVP, you’ll need to invest time and money in order to promote it and reach a satisfactory amount of users which will make your investment worth your while. Giving consideration to budget restrictions is key to your startup’s survival, so you may want to start by working on a non-functional prototype instead, in order to find strategic co-founders, validate your business model or search for funding. A non-functional prototype implies creating the mockups, in other words, the graphic design of the different screens, and making it in an interactive way that will simulate the functionality of the app (without real data).
  • Should you consider working with a team, or will a freelancer be a better suit for your current needs? Take into account the pros and cons, as well as budget.Working with a freelancer, or several of them to tackle the different parts of your project, maybe a convenient option if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution, particularly if there aren’t any particularly complex features in your project. It can be tough, however, to manage several people working individually from different locations, especially when you’re just getting started and cannot devote 100% of your time to the development of your project. On the other hand, working with a team can easily be a solution for the first two points we mentioned, as you won’t need to worry about managing the workload (there’s a Project Manager in place for that), and the expertise a team can provide will always be far more advantageous than that of a single individual, not to mention the guarantee of a quality standard. These advantages do, nonetheless, translate into a higher price tag. 
  • Define the platforms you’ll use to build your product. Always listen to the market! In this sense, market research is fundamental as it’s not the same to target a tech-savvy market, than to target a segment which has limited access to the internet, for example. Make sure you understand consumer behavior and accessibility to make a better-informed decisionIn that sense, we generally recommend getting opinions from your target audience. Are they, for instance, iPhone or Android users? If the majority of them prefer Android devices you might as well start by building an Android app, as this will increase the chances of your app being used. 
  • Choosing your development methodology. At CodigoDelSur we always prefer using Scrum Methodology (here’s why) especially for startups. Basically, because it allows the development to focus on delivering value to users, to adapt to market preferences and always being in control of how much you spend.

3- Key points during the development process.

  • The importance of communication between the team and the founder. We as developers need to get to know your business model, understand your users and create a custom-made digital product for them. This is why we need your total involvement in the process along with feedback to make the deliverables exactly what you expect.
  • Should you work with a CTO? That really depends on your budget and how tech-reliant your project it. Either a CTO or a technical co-founder can be of great help when you’re a non-technical founder yourself. This is especially true of projects that have a particularly complex technical component. Nonetheless, when hiring a team, the project manager will act as a CTO, looking to help you in the best way possible to create a beautiful digital product.
  • Understand the development methodology your team is using. Ask questions and get involved!  Always keep in mind that the individual and/or team working on developing your project is heavily reliant on your feedback, as that’s what will help them build the product exactly the way you want it. That being said, try to take part in as many meetings with them as possible. Never underestimate the importance of communication!

Focus on performance and scalability. Here’s some advice on growth-hacking we learned in our recent visit to Silicon Valley.

4- My MVP is ready. What’s next?

  • Validation. Once you launch your app or website, the feeling of seeing your baby not reach the million users right away can be devastating but you must keep going until you can make sure that either you need to make some specific improvements and continue evolving or make a radical shift of the direction you’re taking. Keeping open to suggestions is as challenging as necessary in this stage. Once you launch your product the lack of instant success can be a bit overwhelming but do take advantage of the feedback you get from this bunch of initial users: they will let you know which features should be improved or removed, and which ones you should consider adding
  • Data gathering. As we mentioned in the previous point, the thoughts and opinions you’ll receive from your initial users are the best way to validate your product. In our decade of experience working with startup founders though, many of them often come to the realization that the features they were initially focusing on were perhaps not the ones that truly made their product stand out, and in those cases, a shift to a different vertical can be of help. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed: it simply means your chances of success can increase if you change your target. 
  • Obtaining funding to continue the process always makes it better. Here’s advice on how to prepare your pitch to ask for capital from VCs. Release new and improved versions.  
Don't be discouraged if things don't quite go as planned. Take every opporunity as a lesson to grow!

5- Conclusions:

  • Developing your product is a dynamic process that never really comes to a defined end, as there is always room for change and continuous improvement. 
  • You must be able to clearly define the core concept behind your idea and stick to it while you build the MVP. 
  • Never underestimate the importance of researching the market you’re entering, as well as the tastes and preferences of your potential users. 
  • Before moving forward to the development stage:
  • Define whether you’ll go for a full MVP, or whether a more simple prototype is the way to go at this point.  
  • Consider whether a freelancer or a development team will be the best option for you, taking into account your current budget and personal preference.
  • Define the platform you’ll be building the MVP on.
  • Choose which development methodology you prefer to stick to. 
  • Keep constant communication with the development team: remember your thoughts and feedback are the basis of their work. 
  • Stay open-minded! Don’t be discouraged if you need to make a big change in your key concepts, remember that this can lead to a higher rate of success.