“Have you heard the concept of MVP or Minimum Viable Product?” is one of the first questions we ask most of our clients and many prospective clients haven’t. So, I’d like to explain what MVP means and why the concept of MVP is very important.
Minimum Viable Product is more of a concept than a specific process or technique. The idea is to bring a product to market as soon as possible and get real people using it. Once people start using it, you gather data and based on the analysis you iterate or add new features based on real user feedback instead of assumptions.
Now, alot of times clients ask me, how much time it will take an app like Instagram or an App like Uber? And my reply is 10 years or so. The current version of all the successful apps that you see in the market are actually the versions which exist 10 years after the existence of the company.
“It takes 10 years to make a great software product which is loved by millions of people.”
Now, it is definitely not advisable to sit in your lab and code for 10 years to find out that the app that you wanted to build is no longer required. So, you work on an MVP with minimum features but which are absolutely core to the product and launch in the market. To have a better understanding of the concept lets have a look at few examples.
Examples of Minimum Viable Products:
1.) Facebook MVP
Facebook was not the behemoth it is today when Mark Zukerburg coded it from his dorm room in 2004. It stared out with very basic functionality to test the idea. Here is what Facebook MVP looked like when it was launched:
Not at all fancy right. Lets a little further. Even after gaining some momentum in 2005, Mark did not work on look and feel of the app that much, they just tried to get as many new users as they could. Here is what it looked like 1 year after the launch:
The news feed feature that is so common in all the social media apps did not come in Facebook until 2009. Clearly, Facebook has improved over a period of time. There was no like button, no news feed, no groups, no games and most importantly no Ads! It all happened over a period of 15 years, 1 feature at a time.
“No company starts out as a billion dollar company. No idea is perfect. You just start small with an MVP and keep on improving.”
2.) Instagram MVP
Now, Facebook is not alone. Even Instagram, started out with baby steps. Instagram was launched in October 2010 just on iOS. For almost 2 years it stayed that way. They built the platform and added new features and finally when there was enough demand and managerial bandwidth with the company, they launched on Android platform in April 2012.
Instagram MVP had much less number of filters, no video upload support, no direct messaging, no algorithm for their feed. Just simple feature of upload a photo on the platform with some features on which your friends can comment and like.
The biggest lesson we can take from Instagram’s journey is:
“Start with 1 platform either Android or iOS. Once there is some demand for your product and you know customers actually want your product make the app for the next platform.”
3.) Uber MVP
Uber’s vision was “to get a cab on click of a button”. They just did that in their minimum viable product. They connected customers with drivers and allowed a payment service. That is it! No Promos, no different choice of taxis, no home, no work address. Nothing! They took that basic concept, quickly entered the market, received real customer feedback, and grew from there.
These examples prove that you should first build a MVP app of your idea, test the market and then take small steps based on the the data you get.
Advantages of building a MVP app:
1.) It helps you release your product to market in the shortest time.
2.) It reduces implementation costs.
3.) You avoid failures and large capital losses.
4.) You gain valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t work.
5.) You gather and enhance your user base.
Twitter, Dropbox, Airbnb, Apple & Google all big companies do this. All these companies know that software development is an iterative process. You launch an MVP and keep improving your apps based on the costumer feedback. I will write about their individual case study in some other blog post.
Now at App Knit, we go one step further to reduce implementation costs. We provide a service of prototype MVP. Think MVP for the MVP. This is a code-free, manually-operated (and significantly cheaper) prototype that helps in determining which features of the app work best.
If you need more suggestions please feel free to Contact Us, we will be happy to help.