MVP for startups: advantages, pitfalls, and more

What is MVP? Benefits and drawbacks of creating an MVP: what are they? What is the goal of MVP creation? 

MVP: every startup needs it!

Let’s take a life example – if we want to start running in the morning, we don’t start by buying the best shoes and equipment; we just put on our old shoes and go for a run. We want to see if we like it. It can be compared to MVP – a minimum viable product can show whether people like the product, what is the market situation and more. Looking for MVP development services for startups is a must if you want your product to be successful.

One of the main advantages of an MVP is, therefore, a quick check whether we like something or not without spending a lot of money on it.

Often, watching the successes of startups like Airbnb or Facebook, we think that their products looked impressive from the very beginning – but they weren’t. This is because we got to know these products only in the maturity phase. According to interviews conducted with him, Mark Zuckerberg spent only two weeks writing the first version of Facebook, which we could call MVP today.

It is physically impossible to create a visually and functionally attractive application in two weeks – there is no doubt about it. So, MVP is just the beginning of our road with the product, not the end.

What is the purpose of MVP and its advantages?

Let’s take a look at the main goals and advantages of MVP creation. 

  1. Verifying whether the originators and founders of the startup well-defined the target group.
  2. Showing and identifying the most serious mistakes in assumptions about how users will use our product.
  3. Product verification with real users who are not part of the startup team or close friends – this is the first contact of the product with the outside world, users who will not understand the concept of the product before using it and will not be kind (like family or friends).
  4. It is the cheapest and fastest verification of the business need for the product, thanks to focusing on the set of the most important functionalities for the client.
  5. Finding out what user expectations were met and which remained unfulfilled.
  6. Verifying whether customers are willing to pay for our product.
  7. Disciplining the startup team so as to focus on the most important functionalities and use of our product and not postpone its launch on the market.
  8. Involvement of users in the product development process.
  9. Increasing credibility in conversations with venture capital investors or business angels, thanks to the validation of the business idea with real users.
  10. Limiting and maximizing the time wasted on creating functionalities that consumers do not want or use.
  11. Making a decision to continue working on a given solution, abandoning it, or making a change.

The advantage of MVP is that our ideas about the product collide with reality, which is customer feedback. In the traditional business approach, market research or surveys are often performed, but these tools cannot show the reception of our product to such an advanced degree because the user does not interact directly with it.

MVP VS prototype

Both the MVP and the prototype are ways to test a business idea. However, MVP is a self-operating product, unlike the prototype, which mostly imitates functionalities, and its only use is to collect feedback from users.

The prototype is intended only for testing, and its creators do not assume that it will be used as a regular product. MVP is theoretically able to meet customer needs and technically be prepared for long-term use in a natural way.

What is worth paying attention to when building an MVP: what are the pitfalls?

The most important thing to pay attention to when building an MVP is time – you shouldn’t wait too long to release the product’s first version.

Even if the solution is not polished enough, it is better to co-create it with users than to invent the functionalities that your customers need. It’s best to give them a voice so that they come up with their problems themselves, pointing out the deficiencies in a product. It is also worth sending an invitation to test a product to as many people as possible.

Common mistakes when creating an MVP

Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes.

  • Limiting itself to a small number of undifferentiated users (e.g., a few people or companies with similar needs) means that feedback is not universal, and reception by this group may be different from other users.
  • Testing MVP with people who have too much knowledge about the product (e.g., startup team members) makes it impossible to verify whether the product is intuitive and easy to use for a person who sees it for the first time.
  • Testing MVP with overly kind people (e.g., family or friends) who may not have the courage to give us negative comments.

How do I know MVP is good enough? How to measure success?

The MVP is sufficient when the founders feel that they provide a certain value to the users of their product. It doesn’t have to be the whole product; it can only be a fragment of a certain functionality, which creates value for the users of the product.

The most important thing here is to answer the question: will my product show the future potential of the finished solution to the client? Will the MVP verify my main assumptions and problems my potential clients face? If the answer to these questions is yes, then surely the MVP is ready to be shared with the outside world.

However, it is worth remembering not to leave the users alone when testing the MVP, i.e., not to send them the product or give them access to it, and then contact them after a month to collect the test results. It is advisable to observe how users utilize a product and ask them about their doubts or first impressions. Do not hesitate to ask them questions, discuss with them anything or analyze individual fragments of our product on an ongoing basis. Thanks to such “live” feedback, it is possible to automatically correct detected errors or implement helpful hints that users have suggested. Testing – Observing – Asking – Correcting – Testing, and so on. Good luck!

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