There are no successful projects without well-developed and carefully tested MVPs behind them. MVP stands for a Minimum Viable Product (not to be confused with a Minimum Value Proposition). It is one of the core concepts of the LEAN development methodology. In this article, we will explain its importance, the opportunities it opens up for the project creators, and the cost to create this kind of demo solution to illuminate the path of further product development.
The Concept of MVP and the Way It Differs From an App Prototype
MVP is a prototype that includes the core features without any advanced tools
There have been many scientific attempts to define an MVP. In our opinion, the following definition covers the essence of the MVP best of all while showing its direct relation to the LEAN development methodology, the core principle of which is “Build-Measure-Learn.”
According to the research, “MVP is a version of a new product, which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. It is an iterative process of idea generation, prototyping, presentation, data collection, analysis, and learning.”
To put more simply, an MVP is a kind of demo of your future application that only comes with essential features but allows your users to interact with the app to get first impressions, find possible drawbacks and strong sides, and collect feedback.
Thus, an MVP is also an essential part of the Agile development approach since its creation, testing, and validation allows the team to stay flexible and quickly adapt to changing market conditions and customer expectations.
However, an MVP is quite different from a project prototype. The prototype is a kind skeleton of the application. It is a visual embodiment of an idea that users cannot interact with. They can only look at the prototype, and therefore the prototype is used in the idea validation process that precedes the development of the MVP. An MPV is a living, real product that shows how your idea works in practice and gives users a real-life experience.
The development of an MVP is essential for most projects (except for the legacy ones and those developed according to the Waterfall methodology when we can be quite sure of the result) since this tool has the potential of saving your web or mobile app from failures caused by various factors.
The Main Reasons Why Startups Fail and the Ways an MVP May Save Your Project
According to LEAD Innovation research, tech startups fail because of the following reasons:
Lack of market demand.
Lack of financial resources.
The wrong team.
No unique value proposition.
And here is how your MVP may save you from the pitfalls above.
Some MVP benefits that can save you from failure
Lack of market demand. This is the top reason startups fail. Since your MVP creation is one way to validate your idea, it allows for finding out whether a specific market will demand your product or service. Even if there is a lack of market demand for your project, the cost of a mistake at the MVP development stage is still several times lower than the cost of abandoning a full-fledged product after going to market.
Lack of financial resources. The central part of tech projects is quite costly to create, especially if you want to provide the highest end-user experience and embed outstanding design solutions. However, the MVP allows you to invest only in those features and design elements that your app, and most importantly, your users really need. Thus, an MVP is a way to cut your costs at each of the development stages without risking the quality of the result. What’s more, an MVP is a great tool for attracting investments. Since this is the product the users (and investors) may interact with, it has a more prominent convincing potential compared to a bare idea, even if it is supplemented by a competent white paper, business plan, and startup explanation video.
The wrong team. This is quite a risky pitfall. However, you may pass it by partnering with an MVP development company that already has experience developing products from your niche. If professionals create your MVP, it will be more effective for collecting feedback from your users. Creating an MVP may also help you decide whether you are comfortable with the development team and want them to create a full-fledged product for you.
Strong competition. Most tech projects are forced to enter quite competitive environments, and that’s why this reason is also mentioned on the list of the pitfalls one may face. However, don’t forget about the fact that your MVP is a learning and data gathering tool. With its help, you may find out what your users like and dislike about your application. Combine that data with your competitors’ research, and you will get actionable insights into your unique value proposition development. It will allow you to bypass your competitors and gain loyal users.
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Thus, the main way to overcome most of these pitfalls is getting the right information at the right time from the right people using the data collection and analysis methods described below.
The Ways to Get Data-Driven Insights by Launching an MVP
According to the research, “There are several techniques by which to perform customer-related experiments to validate value hypotheses of software-based products and services. The suitability of techniques depends on how far the software has been developed. The basic methods are cohort analysis, focus group surveys, and A/B testing.”
Cohort analysis. It is a behavioral analysis technique that allows you to identify how your users interact with your application, and on that basis, improve the user interface, experience, and journeys.
Focus group surveys. This method is used when you need to find out the collective opinion of your product and find out what the overall impression of your target users is after trying your application.
A/B testing. This approach makes sense when you need to find out how a certain feature or design element performs. In this case, two different groups of users are invited to test the product. However, each of the groups receives different product versions. For example, the first group shares feedback on the dark green background, and the second - on the light green.
MVP performance analysis. This technique allows for getting real-life data on how your MVP performs, i.e., how many users jumped to your landing page from PPC ads or reached the bottom of your sales funnel (decided to download, pay for the subscription, etc.)
4 Core Factors Influencing the MVP Cost
MVP development cost is influenced by the following factors, each of which may directly affect the final pricing. You should be wise with each of them and never forget about the LEAN methodology essentials to wisely invest in your MVP creation.
This is what affects the cost of the MVP
1. Your Approach to MVP Development
Thus, you may develop your MVP following one of the three strategies, each of which has its pros and cons.
In this case, you hire your development team on your own, providing them with space and equipment to work, and taking full responsibility for the legal side of the issue, insurance, wages, and other bureaucratic things. This is the most costly way to develop a tech product and its MVP since you need to organize this process on your own, and there is nobody to share your costs with. This approach makes the most sense when 1) tech development is your core business activity, 2) you need to stay in touch with your team 24/7, or 3) you are scaling your business and providing development services to other startups.
It is easier to control your team when they all are under one roof.
You can establish communication between you and your team any way you want.
It is easier for you and your team to communicate since you are under one roof.
You can build a corporate culture that will become a part of your well-recognized brand.
You need human resource management and organizational skills to make the work of your in-house team effective, or you will be forced to master these skills on the go, thereby risking your MVP development efficiency.
Hiring an in-house team for MVP development comes with unique challenges. Even after careful idea validation and research, there is always a certain share of risk that the audience will abandon your MVP. In this case, you will have to fire the entire team, which is one of the significant drawbacks of hiring an in-house team compared to software development outsourcing.
This is the most costly approach to project development since you need to pay at every step.
When choosing your team members, you are limited to the geographical boundaries of your city/region or the country in the best case.
Hiring a freelance team is the second way to get started with the creation of your MVP. This option is less costly than the previous one but still implies a lot of work from your side. Firstly, as well as with hiring a development team, you will need to look for and test freelance developers on your own. Secondly, you will need to invest a lot of time and effort to establish communication since some of your team members may reside in different time zones.
You may choose your team members from a global talent pool.
The cost to hire a freelance developer is quite affordable, especially if you hire Junior specialists.
A lot of IT specialists appreciate the opportunities of freelancing. So you can expect your final project to be of high quality.
However, the flexibility of freelancing has its reverse side to the coin, and a more promising and higher-paying contractor may attract your team members at any time. Thus, you will be forced to look for a necessary specialist once again.
Honestly speaking, some freelancers have problems meeting deadlines, so you need to manage and plan the tasks with a time margin in mind.
Software Development Outsourcing
Outsourcing your MVP development is the finest line between hiring in-house developers and gathering a freelance team on your own. By doing this, you may hire an already experienced team of remote developers who have already established communication patterns and, most importantly, have experience with MVP development for your niche. What’s more, this is the most affordable option. However, the final price may also be affected by the type of outsourcing contract you choose:
Fixed-price. This type of contract is rarely used for MVP development since the further improvements the team will be asked to make are difficult to predict. Thus, there is a risk of overpaying/underpayment.
Time and material contact. This type better suits MVP development since, in this case, you are paying for the work already done. It is a good option for small and medium-sized projects.
Dedicated team. The dedicated team is the perfect option for large scale and flexible projects developed under the conditions of some uncertainty. In this case, MVP development by the dedicated team is quite a justified investment since it saves you from most of the risks above.
The location of your vendor also matters for the final MVP price. For example, it will be relatively cheap by hiring developers from the Far East. It will cost quite a lot more if you work with top American companies from Silicon Valley. Alternatively, you can stick to the middle ground by hiring developers from Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine, one of the top global outsourcing destinations.
You may choose from dozens of reliable development vendors and go with the one that matches your requirements, budget, and approach to doing business best.
MVP development outsourcing allows for the wisest balance between price and quality and will enable you to control fewer things compared to the previous two options.
Communication issues are unlikely to appear if you hire an experienced development vendor.
You are protected by law at each stage since all the terms and conditions are specified in your development contract. Your idea, trademark, and code are also protected by NDA, patent, and copyright.
Depending on the outsourcing destination you choose, there can be a language and mental barrier. However, this pitfall is easy to overcome if you approach the choice of your development team wisely.
You should get used to remote communication and control.
2. The Technical Specifics of Your MVP
As with any web or mobile project, your MVP will be quite specific. That’s why the following factors also influence its cost.
Design. The more custom design elements you choose, the more you need to pay for this service. In the case of MVP, you may go with a semi-custom design to lower the cost and improve and customize it according to your audience’s wishes.
Tech stack. Professionals with different technologies can set different prices for their services per hour. For example, according to some data, the highest-paid specialists are Objective-C, Swift, and Pascale developers, perhaps because Pascale is not as popular as JS or Python, and iOS development is trendy and thus, expensive. So, be wise with choosing the tech stack for your project since it will directly affect the following point.
Features. The more features you need for your MVP, the more will it cost. Fortunately, an MVP may be launched with a basic set of functions plus one specific feature, so when working on your MVP, you should pay more attention to data gathering and analysis.
3. MVP Testing Costs
Your MVP needs to be tested to ensure no bugs or errors that may spoil the user experience. As for the cost of this stage, as a rule, it takes 20-25% of your MVP development budget. What’s more, you should never miss this stage of your MVP development since missing it may be risky. If you offer your users a bug-teeming product, they will quickly abandon it and never return. You will also deprive yourself of the opportunity to get valuable feedback since all your users’ complaints will only be related to bugs and errors.
4. The Costs to Get and Analyze Feedback From Your Users
Regardless of your strategy for hiring developers, the key economic feasibility of an MVP is the ability to get real feedback from your potential users. And yes, this is another column of costs for its creation, which is divided into two important points:
Marketing strategy. The first step in gathering feedback from your users is letting them know about your product via marketing strategies. As a rule, there is a need for a simple landing page that will be promoted with the help of PPC advertising. This approach will allow you to test users’ interest, behavior on the landing page, and the main drivers that motivate them to get started with your product. However, you need to build your marketing approach to have room for feedback that will be further analyzed.
Data analysis. At this stage, you need to analyze gathered data and extract actionable insights on how to improve your product further using analytical tools like Google Analytics for your PPC campaign effectiveness evaluation.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an MVP?
As with the development of the entire project, the MVP development depends on many factors, so it is extremely difficult to make precise and accurate estimates. In the chart below, we have compiled a breakdown of the approximate cost to build an MVP based on the $50 hourly developer rate (average cost of development services in Eastern Europe).
Price/$50 per hour
The chart above includes an overall cost estimate, taking into account the development of only those functions without which no application can work (for example, registration, personal profile, payment system, etc.). If we try to evaluate more specific applications from different niches, then the price to build an MVP for each of them will be slightly higher due to the specifics of the application itself and its distinctive functions.
For example, to create an app for food and recipes, it is necessary to make a significant investment in content. In order to create a crypto wallet, it is necessary to use the blockchain infrastructure and pay great attention to security issues at the stage of the MVP mobile app.
Price/$50 per hour
Diet and nutrition app
Car insurance app
Examples of MVP costs for some applications
Thus, the minimum viable product cost may start at $18,000-$20,000 and reach $25,000-30,000. It all depends on the specifics of your web or mobile app, the ways you hire developers, and the expectations of your target audience.
However, the cost may vary depending on the geographical location of your development team.
The cost of an hourly rates depending on the region
The final MVP pricing may differ for different projects. However, its cost is still affordable for small and medium businesses. What’s more, having an MVP in your pocket allows you to prove that your idea is worth attention and raise funds for further development and improvement. At KeyUA, we approach MVP development wisely and strive to deliver the best quality at a reasonable price to help our customers grow and develop!
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