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Posted on • Originally published at codica.com

How to Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

If you are a businessman who strives for a digital product, planning to build one is a matter of time. Until then, the idea is everything you got. So what comes next?

Don't be in a rush to get your product to the buyers without testing it. An MVP approach comes as a great tool for everyone who wants to validate their business idea. This way, you will understand what users are ready to pay for once they open your website or app.

Let’s finally get to know how to build an MVP.

1. Problem discovery

First, make sure your product fixes any users’ issues. According to CB Insights, lack of market demand is the second most common reason why startups fail.

Several customer research insights you need to know before getting started:

  • Why do they need your product?
  • How will your product help?
  • What problems will it solve?

Knowing what customers are dissatisfied with while using other products gives you a glimpse of a new market solution. That's how insightful feedback from a survey can help you define your product goals.

2. Conduct market research

As you’re outlining the product idea, you might find an already existing solution out there. So it’s time to exercise market analysis to outsmart your competitors.

Take the other companies' products and investigate their strengths and weaknesses in-depth. Ideally, do a hands-on review. It helps you learn from others' mistakes, thus delivering a better alternative to the existing solutions.

In case some competitors’ features are better than yours, work further on your idea to bring substantial benefits to the customers.

Market and competitor research will also help you find more details about your target audience.

3. Prioritize your product's features

Firstly, define the user flow. These are steps taken to get the right outcome while using an app or a website. Getting to know them enables you to outline the essential set of features.

To order an Uber taxi, for instance, you should enter the pickup address, the destination, and then click “Confirm.”

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In sum, you better get your product's features prioritized by their importance.

And there's more to come. Value Proposition Canvas (VPC) will help you to ensure the product-market fit. Here are three key points:

  • Jobs-to-be-done;
  • Pains;
  • Gains.

Fill in each component above to define how an MVP can satisfy your customers.

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Source: https://www.strategyzer.com

Here is an example of Tesla VPC exercising the best fit to the market.

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Source: https://designabetterbusiness.com

Rank each point according to their value — from "extra" to "must-have." So, features heavily dependent on customers' needs set the foundation for a unique selling point.

Thus, prioritize the features by grouping them into "essentials," "cool-to-see," and "extras."

4. Create a prototype

Once you finish the market research, it is time to put theory into action. To reduce expenses and save time, you can choose to create a prototype.

In order to test your idea, select the group of early adopters. They are potential customers waiting for someone to offer the desired product.

At this point, you understand precisely whether your idea is worth investing more time and money in. Or vice versa, the cancellation of your product creation might seem more reasonable based on your research results.

5. Build-measure-learn, repeat

When you kick off the development stage, you should continuously consider the feedback on your MVP. This approach can be set out in three words: Build-Measure-Learn (BML).

Such a feedback loop makes a whole point of the Lean Startup methodology.

Source: http://theleanstartup.com/principles

Now, let’s take a look at all three cycle stages.

Build

We want to emphasize four options to develop a solution:

  • Bring a technical co-founder
    A tech startup is always a brainchild of business and science. That's why Apple's technical co-founder Steve Wozniak deserves so many credits. In other words, your tech co-founder will be in charge of the tech side of the process. Importantly, they should be inspired as much as you are.

  • Pick a freelancer or a freelancing team
    Alternatively to technical co-founders, you can hire contractual workers from dozens of websites like Upwork or Fiverr.

  • Hire in-house developers
    In contrast to previous options, you ​can also hire a developer in-house. You can keep track of their progress at any moment. Meanwhile, this might also be expensive as an experienced specialist is keen on both exciting and high-paying projects.

  • Find an MVP development company
    Sufficient experience in MVP development is a huge advantage to benefit from. So you will surely get what you need working with a software agency.

Measure

Blurred success indicators will prevent you from seeing the actual progress. That is why any product development involves calculating the results obtained within the build stage.

Take into account Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) measures. Let's see how we can calculate them:

CAC - by dividing the whole amount spent on marketing and sales by the total number of customers acquired over a given time period.
ARPU - by dividing the revenue of a certain period by the total number of active users during that period.

Their correlation will help you realize whether it is beneficial to go ahead with product development.

Learn

Draw the line where your project should “persevere,” and where it should “pivot.”

Persevere means moving on, preventing the project from extras.

At this point, your MVP is ready for release. All collected feedback can be used for the upcoming improvements.

Pivot causes redirecting of the product strategy. So, you should change some features or rethink your development strategy.

Feedback

Collecting feedback is vital once you are done with the BML cycle. The most prominent example of doing so is interviewing the customers.

Where to find the very first users? The most efficient ways are socials — Facebook and Linkedin, for instance, Quora answers, forums, and Q&A websites like Reddit.

Summary

It’s time to wrap our thoughts. An MVP concept helps you to exercise your idea prior to creating a fully-built product. It helps you avoid most pitfalls initially instead of fixing the project on the go with cost climbs.

For more information concerning MVP development, read our full blog article.

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