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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Minimum Viable Product: A Decision-Making Guide for Startups

19.04.2022 Yury Antonau,Darya Tryfanava
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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Minimum Viable Product: A Decision-Making Guide for Startups

Software development requires a lot of time and expenses, so startups are looking for ways to minimize the risks of failure and loss of funds. Releasing a minimum viable product before developing software with enhanced features is one of the most effective options to achieve this goal. In this article, we will cover the main benefits and drawbacks of MVPs to help you make the wise decision for developing your product.

What’s the Truth about MVPs?

Let’s first define what an MVP is. A minimum viable product, or MVP, is a very early-stage version of a product or concept that gives startup entrepreneurs crucial feedback that they can use to further develop and improve their brainchild. So, startups can get early, critical information from customers before spending years and millions developing something no one will buy.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an MVP

Advantages of a Minimum Viable Product

MVPs have many advantages, including cost efficiency, minimized risk, transparency of the product, and others outlined in this section.

You Gain Early Feedback from Real Users

MVP development is a good option to create your customer database and collect feedback from them. If there is no or very little customer feedback, you have time to review your mistakes and make improvements. Yet, if people are excited about your project, you’ll know you’re moving in the right direction.

You Can Enter the Market Quickly

An MVP allows you to attract not only target users, but also people who are actively screening the market for new technologies. Early consumers can help you a lot with their feedback to define the individuality of your product and gain an advantage over your competitors.

Test Business Ideas and Product Concepts

Testing and customizing a project for your target audience is easier when it is not overloaded with technical features. An MVP allows you to test a minimal project and then seamlessly add additional features. This is more reasonable than removing useless features you’ve already paid for.

Saving Money

Depending on its complexity, software development can take anywhere from several months to several years and require a heavy investment. An MVP is a much more convenient option. In addition, it can start making a profit right from the start, which can be invested in further development.

Creating an MVP can save entrepreneurs a lot of money and time in the early stages of startup development. But keep in mind that this option is not suitable for everyone, and without a clear understanding of the MVP’s purpose, you may have more to lose than to gain.

Makes your Project Less Risky for Investors

An MVP is probably the best way to find investors for financing your project. The truth is, only a few of them are willing to finance projects that exist only on paper. An MVP helps to present all the advantages of your product and increases your chances to succeed.

Ensures that You Don’t Waste Money

Creating an MVP starts with the most important core features, which are likely to remain largely unchanged until the end of development. Features you add later may change dramatically or be eliminated altogether.

If you don’t use the MVP approach in your project, you may waste a lot of resources on features that won’t be needed in the end. Developing an MVP will help you better allocate resources and not be blindsided by elements of your application.

Drawbacks of an MVP

There are also specific challenges to keep in mind when considering the MVP development option.

Determining the Value of Features

During MVP development, it can be tricky to define core features without adding more. It would make more sense to provide customers with something effective yet simple instead of spending resources on unnecessary features.

But a feature set that is too minimal may not properly represent the value of the product. So, the mission of your product should be correctly defined from the very beginning. You should clearly define the customer problem you are going to solve and which features are needed for it.

Perfect Design

If you spend a lot of time on design, your customers will have to wait longer for functionality, although in the case of an MVP, it is the top priority. So, it’s reasonable to focus on functionality, usability, and simplicity instead of perfect but complex design.

Non-scaling Technology Stack

Often developers assume the MVP to be a very basic version of the product and choose a technology stack that does not allow the project to scale in the future. As a result, turning the MVP into a feature-rich product requires a complete redesign.

To avoid this pitfall, you should build an architecture focused on keeping your data pipelines up to date; in short, ensure your business is future-proof. That means you should have a flexible, adaptable, and scalable technology stack that can leverage data science.

Here are tips to keep in mind when creating functionality:

  • Consider the implications of scaling up for your entire pipeline. When it comes time to scale up, it’s important to completely realize the implications for your entire data pipeline. Adding functionality at one stage can lead to new requirements and stresses on others.
  • Consider what you really need before you build. You should carefully choose the type of your project and the technologies to implement it. Don’t overlook previous technologies; they usually have an established knowledge base. Also, your team may already be familiar with many of the essential elements. Furthermore, the process of implementing new technology may not be entirely seamless with previous processes.
  • Make sure that new solutions won’t cause issues with core functionality. Technology systems are often interconnected. This not only provides many benefits, but also leads to unexpected interactions when upgrading your systems. It’s critical to have systems to test integrations, especially when you update core functionality.
  • Set up a feedback loop to monitor and solve problems. When investing in new technology, it’s important to measure how well it fits expectations and achieves your goals. In terms of ROI, keep in mind that it frequently makes sense to do the most you can with the minimum cost, and then decide whether it’s worth investing more. Carefully monitoring your efforts is a good way to prevent excessive or insufficient investment.
  • Train, hire, and build a data-driven team. This is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page, involved in the process, and can participate in the future of your project.

Tough Competition

Showcasing the MVP can eventually damage your brand in the case of a low-quality implementation. While the MVP is not the final product, the first impression is crucial. That’s why it makes sense to develop fewer features but make them work seamlessly. If you’re entering a highly competitive niche, make sure you have a well-designed marketing strategy.

Alternatives to an MVP You May Consider

Minimum Lovable Product

Minimum lovable product, or MLP, is the initial offering that users like from the very beginning. It provides the minimum necessary for customers to adore the product, not just tolerate it. The obvious drawbacks are a needless development cost increase.

mlp

Graphically, this idea may look as follows:

mlp

Minimum Marketable Product

The minimum marketable product, or MMP, approach is about creating a minimum set of features to test a feasible business model for marketing. In contrast to an MVP, an MMP can be a version 1 of the app that you will release to the market. This will assume that you have completed the validated learning and have a solid understanding of your target users and preferences.

A good example of an MMP is Apple’s very first iPhone. What made it successful was that Apple stripped down the entire product to cater to a select set of customer needs. They avoided the pitfall of trying to please everyone at once and instead used the MMP as a product to build upon, extending the capabilities of the phone over time.

mmp

Minimum Catchy Offer

A minimum catchy offer is an alternative to a minimum viable product. This could be a single offer like Uber: “You push a button, and in 5 minutes, a Mercedes S-Class or Town Car comes and picks you up and takes you where you want to go.” Or it could be an explanatory video, like the one from Dropbox, which drew more than 45,000 people to the service’s waiting list overnight.

This approach is an excellent option if you are faced with whether to invest in developing an MVP. If an offer with a button to action didn’t work right away, you shouldn’t keep mixing up everything, repainting buttons and redesigning landing pages.

Riskiest Assumption Test

A riskiest assumption test, or RAT, allows you to determine whether consumers have an interest in the product, even before development starts.

You can apply this option to look at the biggest assumptions about the business model, type of market, users, strategy, and measure of success. So, you can test the viability of your idea without having to develop the entire product and wasting time, energy, and money.

Airbnb is a great example of a company that used a RAT. It all kicked off when the co-founders decided to rent out the air beds from their apartment.

This inspired them to turn their living rooms into guest rooms with breakfast included. To conduct the pilot, they created a site called “airbedandbreakfast.com.”

Here’s a screenshot of the AirBed & Breakfast page from 2008:

Airbnb

Not Sure Whether to Start Software Development with an MVP or without One?

An MVP is a straightforward, cost-effective way to prove your idea and see what your customers actually think about your solution. There are plenty of cases of an MVP, like Amazon, Facebook, or Airbnb, where a big, groundbreaking project was initially a simple idea to make life easier.

To build an MVP, you could find and hire in-house developers or outsource the entire process. We recommend choosing a third-party team to develop an MVP for two reasons: it’s hassle-free and budget-friendly.

If you decide to outsource your MVP development, don’t hesitate to contact our experts. We will always be ready to help you turn your ideas into a successful software project.

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