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What is a Minimum Viable Product? MVP Definition & Business Meaning

What is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in software development? How does it benefit your business and time-to-market for your application? Which common mistakes should you avoid?

Do you have a great idea for an app? You’ve probably heard that the best way to start is by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

It’s not easy to make it on the startup scene today, where hundreds of companies compete against one another. To build a product your customers really want, it’s necessary to find the product-market fit as early as possible. And that’s exactly the opportunity that MVP offers companies like yours.

Read this article to find out everything you need to know about the business value of an MVP and how it helps to build successful software products.

In short, you will learn what Minimum Viable Product is, discover MVP business meaning, Minimum Viable Product examples, and find out which common mistakes you should avoid.

📌 Check out: How to Build a Minimum Viable Product – MVP Guide for App Owners

What is a Minimum Viable Product? MVP definition

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a concept that originated in the lean startup methodology introduced by Eric Ries in 2011. In general, the lean startup focuses on the influence of testing and learning on new product development. And MVP encapsulates that approach perfectly.

Here’s a definition of MVP:

A Minimum Viable Product is a version of a new product that allows a team to learn as much about customer needs and preferences as possible (validated learning) with the least amount of effort.

The idea here is that a team develops an actual product that can be released to customers. For example, it can be a simplified version of a mobile or web app. A well-designed MVP allows gathering validated learning by observing user interactions with the product. Doing that is much more insightful than merely asking your target audience what they would do if such a product existed.

In its essence, an MVP allows you to validate your product idea without having to invest time and money in building the complete product. I hope that now the MVP definition is clear for you.

Minimum Viable Product Definition

What is the purpose of a Minimum Viable Product in app development?

At this point, you may be wondering: Why do companies decide to develop an MVP? In which situations does an MVP bring the most advantages?

Here are three scenarios that demonstrate the business value of a Minimum Viable Product:

  • Quick time-to-market – you want to release the product to market as quickly as possible and gain a competitive advantage over other companies.
  • Testing a business idea – it’s smart to test a simpler version of an app with real users before committing to a large budget required for the full-fledged product development.
  • Learning about customer preferences – an MVP is a useful tool for companies that want to learn what resonates with their target market and what doesn’t, enlarging the potential user base.

An MVP helps to minimize the time and resources that a company would commit to building a product that carries the risk of failure. By releasing an MVP to market in a short time, companies get to reduce the implementation costs, test the demand for their product, and avoid failure or large capital losses.

Balancing product viability and minimalism

Before we go on to explore the benefits of an MVP, let’s stop for a moment and take a closer look at the elements that are part of MVP concept.

  • Minimum – a minimum product fails to meet the basic needs of users, it doesn’t include enough features to deliver value to them. 
  • Viable –  a product that offers much more value than users need to satisfy their basic needs.
  • Minimum + Viable – it’s a mix of the above two characteristics. A Minimum Viable Product matches the most important needs of users, and nothing beyond that. 

Ensuring the product’s minimalism and viability is one of the key features of MVP development. At this point in the development process, it’s better to focus on what a product does rather than how it does it. Balancing product viability and minimalism is the key to success in MVP development.

Next steps after MVP

What comes next after the Minimum Viable Product? Once you turned your app idea into an MVP, you need to measure how customers respond and gather their feedback. That will allow you to plan and prioritize the app’s features for its next iterations.

MVP business meaning

So why is Minimum Viable Product important for businesses looking to launch software products? Here are several reasons why so many companies are choosing this model of developing software today.

Minimum Viable Product – benefits for app owners:

✔️Early user feedback

Releasing an MVP to market enables companies to get early data confirming consumers’ interest in their product. Positive results in the MVP phase give the green light to developing the full version of the product, at the same time minimizing the risk of product failure. What’s more, if users report what they don’t like or what they’re missing, it also helps you to verify what features should be developed in the next app’s versions. 

You can learn a lot about your users’ feedback from the comments left on the Google Play and Apple App Store. You can also distribute customer satisfaction surveys through your application or sent it via email to the users of your app.

✔️Saving time and money

MVP development helps businesses to save resources during app development projects. Investing in a full-fledged product without knowing whether users need it is risky. By building an MVP first, you can make sure that you’re investing in a project which is likely to be successful.

✔️Verifying market trends

By distributing an MVP among a target audience, you can find out which market trends offer the best direction for developing the full version of the product. The user feedback you gather following the MVP will position your product for success.

✔️Building a user base

Another advantage of releasing an early version of the product to market is that it offers businesses an opportunity to acquire an initial user base. Moreover, such early adopters can become effective brand ambassadors, helping to spread the news about the product to their networks of potentially highly-engaged users.

✔️Attracting investment

How to get your project the funding it deserves? The best way is showing investors a functional MVP that has gained traction on the market and is surrounded by a solid group of early adopters. This is how you convince potential investors that your business model is valid and that your product brings tangible value to users.

How do you plan your MVP?

Developing an MVP is based on stripping away the product from functionalities that aren’t absolutely necessary and defining the core product value. While this may seem straightforward, creating an MVP is a process riddled with challenges.

That’s why smart businesses team up with experienced software development agencies that have the skills and know-how required for successful MVP development.

Here are a few essential steps in defining an MVP:

  • Identifying the problem you want to solve for your target audience – companies often start their market research by carrying out surveys or interviews with customers. That’s how they can learn more about their audience and its actual problems.
  • Analyze existing competitors – the other part of market research is gaining an overview of competitors and analyzing how they solve that particular problem.
  • Make a list of MVP features – and then narrow it down to a minimum! Start by defining the steps a user will take when using your product and list all the features required for every step. Then it’s time to prioritize those features in the order of relevance to the problem you’re aiming to solve.
  • Development – once you define the scope of work, you can move to develop the MVP. Make sure that the development team tests the product regularly.
  • Beta testing – the best MVPs are ones that get tested by real users who help you understand if the product solves an actual problem they have and whether it does so better than similar solutions (for example, by being cheaper or faster).

📌 Read the article: How to Build a Minimum Viable Product – MVP Guide for App Owners

Common mistakes to avoid when developing MVP for your app

MVP is riddled with challenges at every step of its development. Here are the most common pitfalls and mistakes businesses make in MVP development.

The urge to create a complete product

We get it, it’s not easy to strip your amazing product off all the features that made it so special in your eyes. But it’s something you must do to make an MVP work to your advantage.

Remember this: An MVP isn’t supposed to be the final product.

Still, many companies fail to stick to the minimum number of features and develop functionalities that they believe the final product should offer. They often invest a lot in app design, leaving little to no room for later improvements. Making a good impression on your audience is important, but investing a lot of time and money in user experience without knowing whether the product solves an actual problem is risky.

That’s why it’s key to decide which features are crucial while developing an MVP – and doing that on the basis of MVP’s goals and objectives, as well as customers’ needs. This is how you avoid adding unnecessary features at the MVP stage.

Not taking market research seriously

Knowing your market is essential for developing a successful MVP. You need to learn about what customers need, desire, and want – but also check whether your idea is truly innovative or similar to already existing products. Some businesses carry out market research only to ignore its results altogether when they get to formulating the MVP. They’re right in believing in their idea, but disregarding market research is a serious mistake that might come at a steep cost. So, do research, draw conclusions and implement them.

Skipping the prototype phase

Prototyping is an essential step in developing an MVP. A prototype is the first stage of bringing your idea to life and has an immense impact on the entire app development process. This is where you get to build the basic structure of your product, its interface architecture, and the sketches of your application. Skipping this step and jumping straight into a development might result in a lot of confusion later on.

Hiring the wrong team

An inexperienced development team can cause the downfall of even the most unique and viable product idea. That’s why it’s so important that you choose a team that you trust to deliver your MVP on time and in the best shape. You can verify a company by looking at its profile and reviews on platforms like Clutch.co or The Manifest, going through the portfolio, and learning about its approach to MVP development. Read this article to learn more about choosing a partner for mobile or web app development.

Ignoring users’ feedback

One of the primary purposes of an MVP is generating feedback that helps to improve the final product in meaningful ways. Skipping the part where you analyze user feedback is a serious mistake that can render the entire process of developing an MVP useless. You need user feedback to make your product successful; it helps to adjust the product to meet customer’s needs better.

Are MVPs only for startups?

MVP development is a common topic among startups. It may seem that building an MVP is an option only for businesses in their early days of operation but that’s far from the truth.

The benefits of MVP development apply to any kind of company, no matter how large it is or how long it has been in operation.

You should start with an MVP whenever you plan to develop a new feature. It’s smart to release a basic version of your product with the new feature so that a selected group of users gets to test it. Once you gather their feedback, you can improve the feature and then release it as the official version of your product.

Minimum Viable Product examples

Dropbox

When the company’s co-founder Drew Houston came up with the idea for his product, he didn’t release any initial versions of the software. Instead, he published a video explaining what the product does on Digg. His target was the early adopters of the technology. That video alone increased the beta sign-up from 5000 to 75000 overnight. The interest users expressed in the product helped Dropbox to validate their assumptions further and launch Dropbox, attracting 1 million users in less than ten months.

Airbnb

The co-founders of the flat-sharing platform, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, lived in a large loft apartment in San Francisco and had difficulty paying their rent. That’s when they came up with the idea to provide accommodation to those coming to the city. They launched a simple website, posted a couple of photos, and hosted three guests. It’s hard to believe, but this is how they set up a company that today counts $2.6 billion in annual revenue.

Instagram

This photo-sharing social network had an interesting start. Initially, Instagram’s MVP focused on photo filters. The app allowed users to take pictures, apply one of the filters, and save photos on their device. But what made Instagram an instant success was the option to share the photos with other app users easily. This turned out to be the feature that gave Instagram its competitive advantage. By paying attention to user feedback, Instagram became the giant we know today.

Wrap up

In this article, you have:

  • learned what Minimum Viable Product is thanks to diving into MVP definition

  • discovered MVP business meaning & Minimum Viable Product examples

  • found out what common mistakes you should avoid while developing MVP for your app

Building an MVP is a surefire way to develop a successful software product that attracts an engaged user base and gains traction on the market. I hope this knowledge will help you to understand how important MVP for your business is. I keep my fingers crossed for your project! 

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