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What is MVP and How to Build One in 6 Steps

Jul 6, 20246 min read
by Murtuza Kutub
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Some ideas sound great in theory but don't do well in the market. This is one of the biggest risks that aspiring business owners face when starting something new. While there's not much you can do to avoid this risk completely, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) lets you have a test drive in the market.

The MVP is not just a way to soft-launch your idea but also a tool to conduct preliminary market research and understand how you can meet public needs. A study by CB Insights revealed that 42% of startups fail due to a lack of market demand for their product.

The formal concept of MVPs is only about two decades old, and big companies like Uber, Instagram, and Dropbox have greatly benefited from it. Here's a complete guide on what a Minimum Viable Product is and how to build one:

What is a Minimum Viable Product? 

An MVP in software development is the most fundamental version of a product, including only the core features essential to its functionality. The primary goal of an MVP is to gather valuable market feedback to refine and develop the product further, ultimately finding a product-market fit. 

In the words of Eric Ries, the man who formalized the concept, an MVP can be defined as:

The version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” 

By presenting an MVP to customers, businesses can receive relevant feedback on its essential features, which guides future development. This process validates your hypotheses and assumptions, revealing whether your product offers value to both the customer and the business. 

How to Build an MVP

While "minimum" implies a simpler version, building an MVP is far from effortless. It must be viable, meaning it should be reliable, user-friendly, and empathetically designed to meet customer needs.

1. Does the Problem Exist?

Validate your initial concept through preliminary market research. Talk to potential users, conduct surveys, and analyze industry trends. Identify the specific pain points or challenges your target audience faces. This involves understanding their needs, frustrations, and desires.  There are three main sources for identifying a problem: 

  • You’re a consumer who is facing a problem. As a consumer, you have firsthand experience with the challenges and frustrations that arise in everyday life.
  • You’re a domain expert who has discovered an important market gap. With specialized knowledge and expertise in a particular field, domain experts can identify gaps in the market that are not being adequately addressed. 
  • Existing solutions don’t solve the problem completely or in the right way. Often, current products and services fall short of addressing certain problems comprehensively or effectively. 

A well-defined problem statement sets a clear direction to develop an MVP and ensures that your efforts are focused on addressing real issues. 

2. Can You Solve It?

Assess your ability to address the identified need. Do you have the necessary resources and expertise to develop a solution that offers value? Evaluate whether your proposed solution provides tangible value to the users. This involves assessing the feasibility of your product and its potential impact on the target audience. 

Take note of whether your MVP addresses the core aspects of the problem and offers a solution that is both practical and valuable. This can allow you to validate the problem early on, so you can proceed with confidence and minimize the risk of failure.

3. Map out User Experience

Map out the user journey to know if your product is easy to use, intuitive, and empathetically designed to meet the needs of your target audience. Consider how users will interact with your product, from the first touchpoint to the final outcome.  Developing MVPs requires the use of specialized software like Node.js, Django, Figma, Creative Cloud, Sketch, Flutter, and many others where professional help can be imperative. 

A well-thought-out user experience not only enhances usability but also increases user satisfaction and engagement. This includes anticipating user needs, designing intuitive interfaces, and ensuring the overall experience is smooth and efficient.

4. Select Core Features

To create an effective MVP, focus on identifying and including only the essential features that address the core problem. Prioritize the functionalities that provide the most value to users and are required for validating your solution. 

Avoid the temptation to add unnecessary features that can complicate development and dilute the user experience. Focus on functionalities that directly address the core problem and deliver value to users. This approach ensures that your MVP remains focused and efficient, setting the stage for future iterations and enhancements.

5. Test Your MVP

After development, the next step is MVP testing in the real market. Launch your MVP to a select group of users and gather feedback on its performance, usability, and value. Be prepared to iterate based on the insights you gain from this testing phase. 

With F22 Labs you get professional assistance in MVP development and iteration, ensuring the product evolves seamlessly without losing customers. We offer comprehensive services covering both the ideation and development phases, helping clients define and refine their product concepts. Partnering with F22 Labs guarantees that the MVP meets market demands and delivers a superior user experience, in line with your vision.

Continuous feedback and development are needed to refine your product and align it more closely with user needs and market demands. Testing your MVP website, application, or software allows you to validate assumptions, discover potential improvements, and build a more user-centric product over time.

6. Iterate, Pivot or Shut Down

Focus on core functionalities – identify the features that resonated most and prioritize them for enhancement. Incorporate new functionalities thoughtfully – consider adding functionalities users requested, but ensure they align with your product's core purpose.

Sometimes, user feedback reveals a need you hadn't considered. This might necessitate a pivot – a strategic change in direction to address a different problem or target a different market segment. This requires revisiting the core functionalities and potentially building a new MVP focused on the newly discovered opportunity.

If the MVP fails to generate interest or user feedback consistently indicates a product-market mismatch, it might be time to call it quits. This frees up resources and allows you to focus on more promising ventures.

The Benefits of an MVP

With a simplified version of your product, you can collect valuable feedback that guides its development. However, the purpose of an MVP extends far beyond what meets the eye. Here are some main reasons why an MVP is important:

  • Test an idea: An MVP allows you to test your concept with real users before committing significant time and money. This approach is faster and more affordable, enabling you to validate your idea in the market with minimal risk.
  • Showcase concept to investors: Having an MVP gives you a tangible product to present to potential investors. It demonstrates the feasibility of your idea and your ability to execute it, which can significantly increase your chances of securing funding. Investors are more likely to support a concept that has been tested and shown to have potential.
  • Concrete reference point: An MVP serves as a concrete reference point for discussions and presentations. It helps stakeholders, team members, and potential partners understand your vision and provides a foundation for meaningful feedback and collaboration. 
  • Conduct low-risk experiments: With an MVP, you can conduct low-risk experiments by trying different ideas and iterations. This process allows you to refine your product based on user feedback, helping you perfect the product gradually. Each iteration provides insights that help you improve the product and better meet user needs.
  • Finding a product-market fit: Continuous refinement based on user feedback helps you find the product-market fit. By iterating and improving your MVP, you can ensure that your product aligns with market demands and meets the needs of your target audience. 

Some real-life examples of MVPs include Etsy, Instagram, and Pinterest. Etsy started as a simple marketplace for handmade goods, focusing on core features before expanding.  Instagram began as a basic photo-sharing app, initially called Burbn, and refined its features based on user feedback to become the popular platform it is today. Pinterest started as a simple pinboard for collecting ideas and images, iterating its features to enhance user experience and engagement. 

The Takeaway

Many entrepreneurs prioritize the "minimum" over the "value" in an MVP, resulting in a product far from their vision. For instance, a free app with minimal features might save costs but won't provide much value to customers or feedback for the developers. The problem often lies not in the idea or the market but in the effort and understanding required to develop a meaningful MVP. 

Professional assistance can be very helpful in this process, allowing for quick iterations based on market feedback. With the right expertise, entrepreneurs can make sure that their MVP evolves to meet user needs and aligns with their ultimate vision, maximizing both customer satisfaction and business success.

Author Detail

Author-Murtuza Kutub
Murtuza Kutub

A product development and growth expert, helping founders and startups build and grow their products at lightning speed with a track record of success. Apart from work, I love to network & Travel.

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