MVP Development Process: A Step-by-step Guide to Take You From Idea to Launch
Don't jump head-first into unknown waters. Got a new business idea? Follow this 6-step MVP development process to find out if your product is actually what the market wants.
In today's fast-paced business scene, it's easy to think you've had a great idea and jump right into building it before someone else does it. But this is exactly why so many startups die before they even start.
To avoid being part of those statistics, your best bet is to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which allows you to test your concept before fully investing in it. Trust us on that one! Throughout the years we've helped many ideas successfully come to life through that approach and companies like Amazon, Dropbox and Airbnb were also born like that. So, here are the 6 steps of the MVP development process to help you confirm that what you are working on is actually what people want and are willing to pay for.
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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
What is an MVP?
In a nutshell, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a simplified version of your product that allows you to test if it fits the needs of the market and gather feedback from your target audience. This feedback will help you make adjustments to your initial concept, iterate and develop a final product that's more aligned with what your users expect.
Why create an MVP?
Ultimately, an MVP prevents you from spending time and money on an idea with little chance of success or informs you about the ideal way to take it forward, with several benefits to your product development process:
Proves your concept with low risk - Every product starts as a hypothesis that there's a certain customer pain, which can be addressed in a certain way. By building an MVP, you can test and confirm that that pain is real and that people will pay for your solution to it, with minimal investment;
Optimizes product development - Building a product through an MVP helps you to spread out development costs over time and prevents over complication. You'll be able to iterate based on usage data and find out what truly adds value to your product. With this information at hand, you'll invest only in features that really matter to the end user and get the final product as close as possible to their ideal;
Boosts stakeholder and investor buy-in - Since it confirms your product's market fit and that people will buy it, you are more likely to secure support from key stakeholders and investors at an early stage;
Orients your marketing strategy - By listening to the user's insights, you will be able to understand what your clients value before trying to sell to them and translate that knowledge into more specific marketing initiatives.
6 Steps in the MVP Development Process
Step 1: Conduct Market Research
Market research is the foundation of the MVP development process and will support your decisions in the next steps. At this stage, you can use tools like surveys, focus groups, and interviews to find out who's your target audience and what are their needs. This is also the time to analyze your competitors. Focus on getting to know the solutions already available for the problem you are trying to solve, and then determine the market gaps which your product could fill.
Step 2: Define Your Value Proposition
Once you have a good picture of your competitors and of your target audience, it's time to define your value proposition, which is the set of benefits your product delivers to the customer. This may seem like a simple step, but it's a critical stage of MVP development. Your value proposition is your customer's reason for buying your solution, and if you don't have it clear right from the start, you'll have trouble knowing what to focus on when building the product.
Step 3: Find the Right MVP Development Partner for You
Building an MVP can be challenging, but working with the right team can make the process a lot smoother and boost your chances of success.
Pick an MVP development partner with a portfolio to prove the quality of what they do and experience in the right technology stack for you. They should also display an ability to think outside the box and great project management skills.
Having said that, the most important thing is to remember that your goal isn't to hire a company to simply execute your ideas. Whatever you do, stay away from code monkeys and look for a team of real thinkers to elevate your own ideas!
Of course, we're proud to have a talented team of people, who are not only agile but true masters in their craft. But delivering great MVP development services isn't just a matter of skill and speed. At NaNLABS, we know that we deliver the highest value to our clients by thinking critically and alongside them. Take it from Jeff, the founder of Popr.ai, who chose us to build his MVP for a SaaS web app:
NaNLABS struck a balance between challenging me and ensuring that the solution we were arriving at was something they could deliver—not being the ‘yes-man’ and not the ‘no-man’ either.
Look for that mentality in your development team. Even if it means less work for us, we'll always advise clients to cut back and focus on what will bring the best results at the lowest expense. You should be able to trust your partner to do the same.
This means that they focus on building long-lasting relationships with clients, and should be a priority in your selection. After you're done with launching and testing, these will be the best people to help you fix, update and scale your product.
Step 4: Define Core Features & Build Your MVP
This is what most people know as the project scoping phase. Here, you want to get clear on what you're trying to achieve with your MVP and commit to that goal. What hypothesis are you trying to confirm? What's the main desired outcome after your MVP has been launched and tested? Ask yourself those questions and pick one central goal. With an established "what", you can then move on to determine the "how".
Design a clear user flow that outlines, from start to finish, the paths and actions customers will take when using your solution. It's based on the user flow that you will determine the core features of your MVP. And here you should keep one very important thing in mind: the 'M' in MVP stands for 'minimum'!
Your feature set should be minimal and match your value proposition. That's it. No need for bells and whistles at this stage. Focusing only on the functionalities required to deliver the core value to the user will keep costs down and get you to the market faster. The quicker you get your concept validation and user feedback, the faster you'll arrive at product-market fit, which is when a product's value proposition is well-aligned with the unmet needs of a certain market.
The agile software development methodology we follow at NaNLABS, allows us to take you from ideation to launch in 90 days, and sometimes less. And that has no impact on quality. We have built successful MVPs in only two months and even delivered a SaaS tool MVP in 45 days.
But, as we said before, it's not all about speed. Agile methodologies are great because they also allow for flexibility and continuous improvement. So, if you can, work with a team that has experience in this approach.
Step 5: Launch and Test Your MVP
Now that your MVP is ready, you can present it to the world! This is an exciting time for most entrepreneurs, but also one that requires a lot of focus.
To effectively test a product, you should be clear on what you're trying to achieve and how to measure success. So define metrics that tell you objectively how your product is performing, before you launch it.
Once your MVP is launched, gather user feedback, engage with early adopters and track their behavior.
Collect as much data as possible, but don't lose focus. More important than collecting a lot of data is to collect the right data. There's nothing worse than going through all this effort only to find out that you didn't get the answers you needed.
Step 6: Analyze User Feedback and Iterate
After collecting all the data, take time to carefully study it and analyze how the users interacted with your MVP.
The insights gathered during testing should serve as the north star of your iteration process. Learn from your mistakes, fix bugs and improve the user's experience. These testing and iteration cycles will keep moving you closer to your product-market fit.
After each test and iteration cycle, you will analyze your results to decide what to do next. If you've achieved your goals, it could be time to scale up your sales and technology efforts. If the results keep disappointing, you might need to pivot into a different solution that's more aligned with the demands of the market. Whichever the case, the good thing is that you’ll have learned a lot through this process, and now have a much better understanding of your user's pains and needs.
Over the years, we've helped a wide range of ideas come to life. Developed MVPs for individual entrepreneurs and also for larger organizations.
Experience tells us that there is no way to guarantee the success of a new product, but that there are proven ways to give your idea its best shot. Our advice is to avoid jumping the gun and focus on testing your product through an MVP. Be sure to carefully follow all the steps of the MVP development process, but in an agile way. Working with an experienced partner, you can quickly find out if your product is worth committing to, or if it's better to invest in something else. All without risking big losses that could prevent you from trying new things later.
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.