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Firstly, what is an MVP in the context of app, software and web development? MVP stands for “Minimum Viable Product”. It’s a product version with a basic set of features representing the final product’s core functionalities (independently of the interface type). The MVP is made to test with potential customers. Once user feedback is gathered, it will be decided which features are worth keeping, changing and removing. User feedback will also help define the viability of the project itself.

MVPs are especially important for startups and entrepreneurs looking to scale. Commonly, startups are founded with an idea for a product but with few resources. To convince potential investors that the idea is worth financial backing, the company needs proof – which the MVP can provide. Typically, MVP’s require fewer resources compared to developing a full-fledged product. A startup or scale-up will have a considerable advantage if it can provide proof-of-concept. 

Startups and founders with no MVP development experience might face multiple hurdles. This lack of experience and planning can significantly delay and hinder the deployment of their MVP development. Below is a list of some of the most common mistakes developers and in-house teams are prone to make during MVP development and what can be done to avoid these pitfalls. 

What can go wrong during MVP development?

You ignore market research

The first step in MVP development is market research. Analysing the market is essential as it will give the first indication of whether the project is worth pursuing or not. Market Research helps prepare for product testing from two sides: technical and marketing. The MVP must be reliable, easy to use, and attractively designed. Competition analysis is becoming more critical than ever. The complexity and cost of project development and promotion depend on it.

The strategy and price of promotion are highly dependent on the complexity of your potential customers’ acquisition and engagement. Only after running a series of tests and receiving feedback from the market can you start implementing your pricing model.

Developing an MVP is essential to find the optimal balance of cost and quality. And often, the emphasis is on minimalism to save money and time. As a result, consumers criticise the raw test version, and developers mistakenly reject the idea itself. 

Over-complicating the MVP

The MVP is the version of a product with enough features to be usable by potential users who can then provide further feedback as iterations are implemented. Focusing on releasing an MVP means that developers potentially avoid expensive, lengthy and unnecessary work. Unfortunately, many teams go overboard with implementing features that are not essential at the initial development phase. Primarily, budgets and timelines will need adjusting, leading to a delayed launch of the product, ultimately defeating the MVP’s very purpose! The project scope should be finalised in advance with the development team and project manager and strictly adhere to avoid piling on too many irrelevant product features.

Choice of the development method

Once the project scope has been determined, it’s time to choose a development method. There are several software development methodologies to choose from: Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, Lean, Scrum, Feature-Driven Development, etc. The project parameters, along with the capability of the team, will dictate the choice of methodology. The wrong methodology can severely slow down a startups MVP development. Inexperienced founders with little to no guidance might be better off hiring an MVP development company, saving them time, money and headaches in the long run. 

Selecting the wrong development team

Startups usually don’t have the capital to hire an entire development team and start with only a handful of employees. Typically, one employee has multiple roles and responsibilities, which significantly delays the process. Some startups (particularly those venture-funded) might make the conscious decision of hiring a team. If the founder(s) or new management lack experience and knowledge in coding or MVP development, it’s a good idea to outsource to a design and software agency. Companies dedicated to the app, software, and web development have well-established teams that work well with each other and can deliver on time, every time. 

Not having a prototype

The MVP needs a prototype too! While this is a viable product that supports minimal functionality, it cannot be raw. Moreover, the product should perform as best as possible the primary functions that solve the consumer’s specific problem. Otherwise, you’re not in business. Your target market should leave the experience having a clear understanding of what the finished product will look like and what it does. 

Not preparing for the scaling phase

In this context, the scaling phase means updating the MVP’s features and capacity to closely resemble your final product functionalities. If you want to be competitive, you need to be prepared to scale your MVP to a usable product quickly after receiving user feedback. 

No monetisation plan

The MVP might be unique, and the product well received. However, are people willing to pay for it? You can’t develop the MVP first and then think about the money later. Having a well-thought-out strategy for monetising your product is critical.

There’s an underlying presumption for app and web-based companies that free users will be converted to paying users later. For every that moved from large losses to significant gains, you can find thousands of failed startup ideas. Your potential investors don’t want to hear that your business model doesn’t convert sales into profits. It’s too much of a risk for them. 

Clayton Christensen, the author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, recommends that founders should “be patient for growth and impatient for profit.” If you follow his simple rule, you can avoid this issue altogether.

To sum up…

Not all MVPs are successful. Creating an MVP for the first time is bound to be a challenging task. Many inexperienced founders and established companies end up burning through their resources due to a lack of planning or experience. Always keep in mind the option to outsource your MVP development to experienced software companies. Our team has already delivered tens of MVPs for our clients, so you know you have a technical partner you can count on!



Alex works with our clients and partners daily, providing one-to-one expertise in support and developer comms. He sees all that happens in Riselabs and has the notes to prove it, so he shares that insight on our blog.