Published: February 24, 2017
9 min read
Last updated: May 2, 2022
In this article, you'll learn:
🤔 What is an MVP?
🗃️ Case study: Foursquare, Airbnb
📈 How can you benefit from developing an MVP?
🗃️ Case study: Uber, Unsplash
It may seem that such apps as Uber and Instagram have swiftly rushed into our lives and immediately gained the worldwide popularity and thousands of users. Few people remember what these apps looked like at the beginning. Now it’s difficult to imagine that once Foursquare and Twitter were primitive apps, which almost no one has heard about. And it can be even more difficult to imagine that they have succeeded exactly due to a gradual growth.
Moreover, recent statistics by Go-Globe only confirm this:
How to avoid such mistakes? Build an MVP! (infographic by Go-Globe)
A simple way to avoid these mistakes was suggested by Eric Ries. Nowadays his “lean startup” methodology has proven its efficiency and is widely used all over the world. It is aimed at shortening product development cycles and building startups according to the needs of early customers in intention to reduce risks and outlays. That’s exactly why MVPs are necessary.
MVP stands for a minimum viable product. What is it? Let’s have a closer look at the meaning of each word in this phrase:
What is a compromise? An MVP which is a product with a minimum set of features that solves a definite problem of users. It allows you to spend as little resources as possible to engage your first users and get useful feedback.
“The minimum viable product is that product which has just those features and no more that allows you to ship a product that early adopters see and, at least some of whom resonate with, pay you money for, and start to give you feedback on.” – Eric Ries
It’s important to understand: an MVP is not synonymous with unfinished or a primitive product that was created in a hurry. By creating an MVP you can better understand your audience needs and expectations and fit your app to it.
It’s also important to choose a right platform for building an MVP. Luckily, you can read about iOS vs Android development on our blog.
How to build an MVP? Do it like this! (infographic by Nataliya Kharchenko)
A minimum viable product for startups can be compared to the first step in a business, which helps you to scale your startup properly. Many startups had passed this stage before becoming extremely popular. Here are some examples.
At the beginning of the 2010s, Foursquare incredibly boosted the market of apps with a location-based service. But back then this app was significantly different from the one we use now. As expected from an MVP it had only 1 main feature: check-ins and badges for completing specific activities.
That's how the Foursquare's MVP looked like (image by Jason Kincaid)
Modern Foursquare app has more complicated design and a wider range of features: for example, city guides, recommendations and stickers.
And that's how the app looks now (image by Grant Anderson)
Some great ideas appear by accident. That’s exactly what has happened to Airbnb! That’s how the story has begun: two fellows, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, had no money to pay a rent, so they decided to offer their apartments as a cheap accommodation to participants of their hometown conference.
What MVP have they designed? A very simple website with photos of their flat – and that’s all!
Pretty simple, right? (image by Erick Schonfeld)
Very soon they found out that a demand for the service was extremely growing. Nowadays Airbnb offers to its users, except millions of available flats and houses all over the world, such an unusual experience as cycling, visiting VIP parties and food tours.
However, the modern Airbnb app looks great! (image by ueno.)
How to Build a Hotel Booking Application?
What lesson can be learned from the examples mentioned above? The answer is simple: it’s better to create a minimum viable product for your startup rather than not. Why? Check out our top 7 reasons to build an MVP for startups!
Never forget the rule: more complicated startups require bigger investments. For every additional feature or more beautiful design you will have to pay. But so as to develop an MVP (it’s still a product, even in its simplest form) you will need a minimum of resources.
Don't waste your money (image by Saba Talat)
We are sure there is one question you are interested in: “How much does it cost to create a minimum viable product?”. The figure depends on many factors, but the average cost varies from $10,000 to 20,000. Of course, sometimes it can be less, sometimes it can be more.
However, even if an MVP turns out to be unsuccessful, a price of the mistake will be significantly reduced. Then you can use saved resources to try once more or choose another business idea.
Building a digital product is not only about coding. Every product is a business project which should attract clients and bring some profit to its creators. But has your idea a promising future?
You can create a minimum viable product to get as an exact answer as possible. Even if your app had a catchy design and plenty of functions, users might be not very interested in it. Because there are other well-known apps in the same category or they just don’t need it, for example.
An MVP helps you to understand how much users are really interested in your app and whether they are ready to pay for it.
One more reason to develop a minimum viable product for a startup is early users. What does it mean for you?
One of the main reasons why experienced developers advise to make an MVP for a startup is feedbacks. It’s critically important to clearly know users’ opinion about your product. With its help you can understand what features are the most desired and expectable, and which ones are unwanted.
Use feedbacks to find interesting and unexpected solutions (image by YaroFlasher)
Remember that any app should solve a definite users’ problem.The best way to find out how successfully your app copes is to get this information directly from users. So use this data for your own profit.
Imagine that you have spent sleepless weeks and months on building your mobile app and when you released it… nothing fabulous happened. No popularity, no profit. Sounds like a nightmare, right? You could spend this time on something more useful.
To create an MVP you will need as little time as possible. Users’ feedbacks will help you to create a really highly demanded and engaging app.
Spend a minimum of time and get the maximum result (image by John Schlemmer)
What would you prefer: to spend months on developing an app which may fail or use the same time to create an app which is more suitable and friendly to its users? The answer is clear!
If we compare a new and unique idea with a heart of every startup, then money can be compared with a blood, which makes this heart beating. You’re lucky if you have stashed away a couple of million and can do whatever you want. Otherwise, you should look for someone who is ready to invest money in your idea.
Why has it happend? This guy had no MVP (image by YaroFlasher)
However, when you have an idea only in your head it may sound not very promising for investors. One of the benefits of an MVP development for a startup is that you will have something more serious and perspective than just your thoughts and words. It definitely increases your chances of being noticed and heard.
And the last but not least. It’s been said enough about an MVP development cost and advantages, but what you also save is your efforts. An MVP is an important step, which will help you to plan your startup wisely and scale your business properly.
Don’t doubt that you will spend more efforts on tailoring your app to users’ requests and dealing with the risks than on building an MVP. So why not to choose the easiest way?
We are getting to the end of the article, but before that, we would like to present you two more examples of successful startups which began with an MVP.
A world-renowned taxi app Uber at the beginning was pretty simple. It was a typical MVP in all meanings:
The Uber's MVP is quite different from what we have now, right?
They scaled properly and succeeded! Nowadays Uber app has a million users all over the world and a dozen of additional functions (for example, fare splitting, gamification elements, live-tracking of drivers, automatic credit card payments and others).
The modern Uber app: minimalist, but stylish (image by Stanley Yeung)
How to Develop an Uber-like App for Delivery Trucks?
If you keen on photography you may have already known Unsplash – one of the fastest growing photography websites. Nowadays it has over 600 million views a month. But how has it started?
Unsplash is another good example of an MVP which has grown into the huge project. A $19 Tumblr theme and 3 hours were all Mikael Cho and other creators needed to run Unsplash. They had only 1 aim – to provide others with a free possibility to share qualitative photos, and they succeeded.
Even the great ideas start with something small (image by Mikael Cho)
Modern Unsplash has significantly changed for better. Developers have added collections, likes and convenient searching function.
The modern Unsplash website
So it seems that we reviewed all the main reasons why your startup needs an MVP. Let’s quickly remember pros and cons of a minimum viable product.
By building an MVP you can also better understand your core idea and underline the most important tasks and features of your startup.
Turn an MVP into an advantage of your startup and have a good luck!
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