9 Things You Need to Know Before Building Your First MVP

Learn how to build an MVP that delivers real value, avoids common pitfalls, and sets the stage for success. Get insights from NaNLABS experts on the key steps and considerations in MVP development.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


Launching a new product can be both exhilarating and intimidating. As a startup founder or entrepreneur, you've probably been mulling over your big idea for months or even years. Now, it's finally time to bring it to life, and that means building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a crucial step in the product development process, enabling you to test your concept, gain valuable user feedback, and iterate based on real-world usage.

But where do you start? That's where NaNLABS MVP development services come in. With years of experience working on innovative projects and supporting startups in their early stages, we've put together a list of nine essential things you need to know before building your very first MVP.

Table of contents

  1. Don’t skip the market research phase

  2. Focus on solving user problems, not adding features

  3. Scoping is how you’ll stay on track

  4. Stay agile, but keep your MVP goals in sight

  5. Budget for the journey, not just the MVP launch

  6. Launch quickly, not perfectly

  7. Invest time in testing

  8. Remember the purpose of an MVP: to gather user feedback

  9. The right development partner does make a difference

That sketch sitting in your library? It’s time to share it with the world. From idea to launch, we can design, architect and code your MVP vision into reality in 3 months or less.

1. Don’t skip the market research phase 

Diving headfirst into MVP development without adequate market research is like setting sail without a compass. This phase is crucial and rushing through it can lead to costly missteps further down the line.

Market research lays the groundwork, helping you identify your target audience, understand their pressing needs, and analyze the competition. Using tools such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews, you gain insights into existing solutions and potential market gaps that your MVP could address. Not only does this stage provide a clearer picture of the problem you're aiming to solve, but it also solidifies your roadmap for the next steps in the MVP development process. Remember, proper preparation prevents poor performance!

2. Focus on solving user problems, not adding features

It's natural for innovators to get swept up in the allure of features and aesthetics. However, the essence of an MVP lies in its purpose: to solve a specific problem for your target audience.

While brainstorming functionalities is a crucial part, it should never overshadow the main problem you aim to resolve. This is a sentiment shared by NaNLABS’ co-founder, Matias, who observes, 

"Many clients, when conceptualizing an MVP, fixate on features. This often deviates from the core issue the user faces. When the focus remains on solving the user's primary problem, the resulting product inherently becomes more valuable."

3. Scoping is how you’ll stay on track

One of the major pitfalls in MVP creation is poor scoping. Scoping an MVP isn’t just about listing features, it's the meticulous process of pinpointing the absolute essentials for your project, driven by market needs and user problems. Think of it as your MVP's blueprint: it not only ensures your product stays lean and relevant but also serves as a proactive strategy to anticipate and manage potential issues.

Too many fall into the trap of overloading their MVP with features that, while interesting, detract from its core purpose. Others might keep it simple, but miss the mark on which features truly matter. If you feel you might be venturing into uncertain territory, don’t hesitate to collaborate with experts who can guide you.

At NaNLABS, we work closely with our clients from the scoping stage to ensure their MVP is both "minimum" and "viable". For instance, when Fluint wanted to factor in a collaboration feature, we suggested an efficient integration with Cord to retain focus on their MVP’s core. Similarly, while working with a relationship management expert on a tight budget, we leveraged cloud hosting for cost-effective maintenance.

4. Stay agile, but keep your MVP goals in sight

Scoping lays the groundwork, but true MVP success lies in the ability to be agile. While meticulous planning sets you on the right track, it's essential to prepare for the unexpected. So how do you navigate potential scope creep?

At NaNLABS, we define the scope with inbuilt flexibility, allowing for necessary adjustments without compromising the core objectives. From a developer's perspective, it's about efficiently accommodating last-minute requests. For clients, it's striking a balance between perfection and feasibility.

A shining example of agility is our recent web app project, completed in less than two months, thanks to the 'Scrum' Agile methodology - prioritizing speed, alongside constant refinement and efficient resource allocation.

To find out more about the benefits of hiring an Agile team, take a look at our Guide to Agile Software Development.

5. Budget for the journey, not just the MVP launch 

If all goes well, the MVP is just the beginning so it's essential to budget for more than just the initial development. Here are the key budgetary considerations:

  • Developing costs: Allocate funds for the actual creation of your MVP, including design, development, testing, and deployment.

  • Operational costs: Once your application is live, you'll need to maintain and support it. This includes server hosting, bug fixes, performance monitoring, and user support.

  • Future iterations: Gathering user feedback is crucial for the success of your MVP. Be ready to invest in further iterations of your product based on this feedback. This could involve feature enhancements, user experience improvements, or addressing any issues that arise during the initial usage.

Budgeting for the entire journey will help ensure your MVP's success and continuous growth.

6. Launch quickly, not perfectly

When it comes to MVP development, speed trumps perfection.

It may sound counterintuitive, especially if you're new to the process, but launching quickly is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it enables you to beat competitors to market, which can be crucial for success. Secondly, it helps you avoid wasting budget on untested assumptions. And most importantly, it allows you to get your concept validation and user feedback faster, leading you towards product-market fit sooner.

In an ideal world, an MVP should go from ideation to launch within 90 days, and it's entirely possible. At NaNLABS, we've even helped clients launch a pilot MVP in as little as 45 days. Remember, the goal isn't perfection; it's gathering data to inform your next steps. 

7. Invest time in testing

Do you need to test your MVP before you launch it? The short answer: yes.

Launching an MVP might be a race against time, but ignoring testing can derail your ambitions before they even gain momentum. Testing, from a technical standpoint, eliminates the chances of gathering feedback that merely highlights technical glitches or faults. It ensures the feedback loop is about the product's value proposition rather than its technical flaws.

A well-tested MVP is an investment in its future success.

8. Remember the purpose of an MVP: to gather user feedback (even if it’s not always positive)

Launching an MVP is a leap into the unknown, an essential experiment to validate your product's value proposition - and negative feedback can be just as helpful as positive feedback at this stage. It shines a light on areas of improvement, helping you iterate and evolve more effectively.

NaNLABS helped Propr.ai do just that by designing and building their MVP with a feature request tool. Using the data collected, they have been able to continually improve their product, moving toward achieving product-market fit - and you should too.

9. The right development partner does make a difference 

Having the right development partner on board can make or break your MVP journey. A trusted partner will be there from the very beginning, guiding you through every step of the process, from scoping to launch and beyond. 

At NaNLABS, we pride ourselves on our comprehensive approach. We don’t just provide development services; we're your strategic business partner, anticipating your future needs and advising you on the best course of action. With experience in multiple industries and an extensive tech stack, we have the knowledge to help you avoid pitfalls and scale back on unnecessary features, ensuring a successful MVP launch and a long-term vision for your business.

But don’t just take our word for it.

NaNLABS were organizers, advisors, and creators, but they were also people. They took an idea that was ready, and they made it better. They knew how to execute it faster and how to design it better than what we could have done.

Wes WalkerCEO & Co-Founder at Propersum

Build your MVP

Creating a successful MVP is not just about quick development and launch. It requires careful planning, efficient execution, and the right partner to guide you through the process.

  1. Building an MVP requires a laser focus on core features that solve specific user problems and fulfill the main value proposition.

  2. Agile development principles allow for a fast and iterative process, providing flexibility to adapt and refine your MVP based on user feedback.

  3. A well-executed MVP launch is essential for validation, gathering feedback, and informing the next stages of development. Testing and monitoring user interaction are key steps.

  4. The right development partner is crucial for success. They can bring valuable experience, insight, and strategic thinking to the table, helping you navigate the MVP journey with confidence.

At NaNLABS, we are committed to providing you with the technical expertise, business acumen, and strategic thinking required to create a successful MVP. Our team of skilled developers and business strategists will work alongside you, ensuring that your MVP aligns with your business goals, meets user needs, and paves the way for future growth.

That sketch sitting in your library? It’s time to share it with the world. From idea to launch, we can design, architect and code your MVP vision into reality in 3 months or less.

FAQs about Building an MVP

  • Why should you build an MVP?

    An MVP allows you to validate your product idea, gather user feedback, and iterate quickly, minimizing risks and costs before full-scale development.

  • How much should it cost to build an MVP?

    The cost of building an MVP varies based on complexity, features, and technology stack but generally falls in the range of a few thousand to several tens of thousands of dollars.

  • What makes a great MVP?

    A great MVP clearly addresses a specific user need, is simple yet functional, and provides a foundation for feedback and further iterations.

  • How long does it take to build an MVP?

    The duration to build an MVP can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on its complexity and the development approach. A 90-day timeline is the ideal timeframe to keep costs under control.

  • Can MVP be a prototype?

    Yes, an MVP can be a prototype if it's a functional version of the product used to gather user feedback and validate the product concept.

  • Are MVPs only for startups?

    No, MVPs are valuable for businesses of all sizes, aiding in testing new product ideas and reducing risks associated with launching unvalidated products.

  • How do you create an MVP roadmap?

    Creating an MVP roadmap involves identifying core features, prioritizing based on user needs and business goals, setting milestones, and planning iterations based on feedback.

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