What is MVP and why everyone needs it

20 April 2017 • 4 min read
What is MVP and why everyone needs it
Andrii Horiachko
Written by Andrii Horiachko
Co-Founder and CTO at Softermii

Customer care is everything, but in reality, too many entrepreneurs fail to understand their customers’ needs. Time and money are being wasted on building apps that don’t solve any important issues. As a result, no one downloads or uses them. According to latest data, a whopping 60% of AppStore apps have failed. But you want to be in the rest 40%, don’t you? Then, the best way is to start with a proper MVP.

MVP, or minimum viable product, is the most basic version of your product. For example, you want to build an app that would remind people about their daily routines. The app should be able to create a to-do list and notify its owner that it’s time to accomplish some of the to-dos. It does not have to record voice for reminders (keep it minimum). At the same time, it should not be ugly or fail to send notifications (keep it viable). Once this app is presented to the customers, it is easy to see whether adding a voice recorder is even reasonable and if the app is generally well-received.

So, MVP is an affordable, no-risk way to know whether an idea is worth further investments. MVP is never made out of lack of finances; rather, it is a smart choice for the companies that take their efforts seriously. Here is why.

What’s so good about MVP?

It takes a little time. Two of our customers, Polyfish and Vidme, ordered a basic version of their apps to be done in up to 2 months. The end result was highly praised and we keep improving and updating the apps.

MVP is not too costly. This is especially relevant for the so-called ‘concierge’ MVPs. N. Taylor Tompson recalls one of such cases talking about invalidating MVPs. Rent The Runway, a personalized dress rental service started as a newsletter. If there has been no demand for their offer to rent a dress, the co-founders would only lose the costs needed to make this newsletter. However, had they built a full-fledged service, they’d lose so much more money.

It lets you test the functionality on real customers. Google is dogfooding (internally testing) all of its new products. Googlers have the apps installed on their devices and check them before public release.


3 case-based tips to define your MVP

illustration 1

Tip #1. Define what is at the core of your concept. 

You may need to answer several key questions when doing this:

  • What is the key problem that you want to solve?
  • Who will need the solution? Who will join your early adopters?
  • How are you different from the existing services?
  • Does the solution still make sense when some features are taken away?

Example: DogVacay connects dog owners with dog sitters. One of the primary concerns of pet owners is that they can’t ensure that their dog gets adequate treatment. Hence they introduced a handy functionality that sends constant reports to dog owners and provides feedback. Our recent related project was PetRealTime app, veterinary telemedicine platform that allows veterinarians all over the world to communicate with their clients.

Compared to the importance of checking on your dog, the ability to find a dog sitter nearby is less important. That is why, geolocation may be added later on, after the release of the initial product.


illustration 2

Tip #2. Think of the most affordable instruments. 

You might find it useful to make a list of all the possible choices, even some absurd ones. Once the list is ready, choose the most affordable technology that won’t hurt your core value (see Tip 1). It should take the least time and money to be built it while giving you a clear picture whether there is a demand for your product.

Example: The most popular example in the field is Dropbox that started from an explanatory video that generated over 75K subscriptions. The cost of video production is nothing compared to the cost of such a complex file sharing solution.


illustration 3

Tip #3. Define the measurable criteria of success/failure.

Make your goal measurable. A landing page should generate no less than X contacts over a month, an app should be downloaded Y times over X months, and so on. Response from the professional community is also important. Popular media with good reputation won’t feature unimportant startups. However, positive media mentions and several good testimonials are still not enough.

Be especially careful when relating the metrics to your actions. The number of downloads is related not only to the quality of an app but also to your marketing campaign; your revenue may only partly be due to the digital media hip, especially if your service is ultimately aimed at offline.

Example: A networking tool called Cococure is a platform that connects people at the events and provides tickets for the related conferences. Knowing the numbers of the audience at their events, the Cococure team could have made predictions about the number of people that will be using the app. The more important point is that to make the app profitable, the team had to look into ticket sales and compare it to the number of users at the event.


illustration 4

The most important tip

It’s easy: don’t be afraid to talk about your ideas. Ask your target audience, ask the experts and, most importantly, ask professional developers. We are here to help you find an efficient, risk-free solution.

When MVP is ready, you are on the way to the minimal marketable product, the one that your customers will really want. In the next article, we will talk about the right way to build MMPs and will address more pressing questions of our clients.

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