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    MVP Development for Startups: How & Where to Begin

    Have you ever considered why apps like Facebook and Spotify are so popular? Well, one thing they have in common is that they started with something called MVP development. It means they first created a basic version of their app and then improved it over time. It helped them become big platforms with lots of users.

    For an MVP development company or many new IT startups, their first aim is to build a minimum viable product when creating an app. This means they want to make something simple they can learn from without spending too much time or effort. In this article, we’ll explain why investing in MVP in software development is a good idea and give you some tips on how to make it successful.

    What’s a Minimum Viable Product?

    A minimum viable product (MVP) is the first version of software that can be shipped. It usually includes only the most important features and is designed to capture the interest of your intended users. An MVP lets you preview and test the product before releasing the final version with all its features. Thus helping you make any necessary adjustments along the way.

    The main purpose of developing an MVP is to gather useful user feedback and start getting benefits early on. After launching an MVP, you can gradually add more features to make it a complete application.

    MVP, Prototype, PoC: Understanding the Key Differences

      Focus Purpose Target
    PoC Technical side, not the design To verify if the project is technically feasible Tech team and project owners
    Prototype Demonstrates the software’s layout and user flows To test the “look and feel” of the app. Project stakeholders.
    MVP Focuses on the most important features to capture the interest of intended users. Gathering user feedback and making profits early on. End users.

    Below, we’ll look at the differences between an MVP, a PoC, and a prototype in terms of focus, purpose, and target audience.

    Proof of Concept (PoC):

    It is a small project, like a simple software demo, a piece of hard-coded functionality, or a document. It aims to prove that your idea can work in real life. The focus is on the technical side, not the design. The target audience is the tech team and project owners. The main purpose is to verify if the project is technically feasible.

    Prototype:

    It is an interactive representation of the future product design, showing how users interact with the software. The focus is on demonstrating the software’s layout and user flows. The target audience is the project stakeholders. The main purpose is to test the “look and feel” of the app, refining the user experience and design before actual coding takes place.

    Minimum Viable Product:

    It’s a fully functional product with just enough features to be released to the market. The target audience is the end user. The main purpose is gathering user feedback and making profits early on.

    In the software development process, starting with a PoC, then a prototype, and finally, an MVP is recommended.

    Key Steps to Sculpt Your MVP

    Sculpting an MVP involves several steps that may vary based on the complexity and uniqueness of the software. Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps to sculpting your MVP:

    Step 1: Discovery and Planning

    Business analysis: For product-based projects, first generate product ideas and research the target market, customers, and competitors. For custom enterprise software, identify business needs and improvement options.

    Planning: Create a product concept, decide on the monetization strategy, and plan a KPI dashboard for the software development MVP.

    Feature Roadmapping: Outline the features for the full software version and prioritize them based on user stories, scenarios, and analysis techniques.

    MVP Architecture Design: Design the high-level structure of the final solution, consider performance and security requirements, plan integrations with third-party systems, and choose the technology stack.

    Step 2 (optional): Proof-of-Concept and Rapid Prototyping

    We recommend using a PoC or prototypes to demonstrate the software concept, showcase functionality, or assess the technical feasibility of innovative ideas.

    Step 3: MVP Development Project Planning

    Outline the project scope, deliverables, budget, project management methodology (usually Agile), timeline, and risks.

    Step 4: MVP Development

    No-code development (for startups or SaaS MVPs): You may test demand or business requirements without coding. It includes using a landing page MVP to introduce the idea and evaluate interest or a “flintstone” MVP to advertise software capabilities while temporarily handling processes manually.

    Code-based Development: Implement the MVP using either a single-feature approach or by creating a custom application version using ready-made elements. The stages involve UX design, UI design (if necessary), back-end development, front-end development, and parallel testing. ScienceSoft leverages ready-to-use cloud components and services to streamline development and reduce costs.

    At the end of this phase, you deliver a working MVP along with supporting documentation.

    Step 5: MVP Launch and Further Iterations

    Deploy the MVP to the production environment after testing and staging. Also, monitor user interactions, validate or redefine user stories, update risk management plans, and make necessary feature adjustments.

    If the MVP receives market validation or shows positive changes in business processes, continue to evolve it or build new software from scratch to meet growing user needs.

    Why Startups Should Say Yes to MVP Development

    Many founders face the disappointment of their journey ending before a single user gets to try their product. To avoid this, it’s crucial to go through the MVP software development process. Let’s explore the benefits it brings:

    Build a User-Centric Product:

    Founders often have a fixed image of how their future products should look. However, flexibility is key for a product that caters to people’s needs. With an MVP and user feedback, you can focus on essential features and remove anything that doesn’t serve a purpose.

    A Platform for Low-Risk Experiments:

    An MVP allows for evolutionary growth. You can easily integrate new technologies as they emerge and add new features without the burden of removing unnecessary ones. The flexibility of an MVP keeps your product concept adaptable to the latest changes.

    Better Understanding of the Domain:

    Building an MVP requires delving deeper into the problem, industry, and market. This process enhances your domain knowledge and helps you discover opportunities in unexplored areas. If you jump straight into developing a complete product, you might miss out on these insights.

    Attention from Investors:

    An MVP showcases your concept, allowing you to demonstrate it instead of merely discussing it. When people use and find value in your product, the chances of attracting investments increase significantly.

    Fast & Affordable Idea Validation:

    Developing a minimum viable product means focusing on the core features needed to validate the idea. This approach saves time and resources as you invest in the most crucial aspects of the product. It is the most cost-effective way to gauge how real users will respond.

    Your MVP Crew: Who’s Typically in it?

    The specific roles and team members may vary depending on the nature of the project, but let’s look at the common roles you may find in an MVP crew.

    Product Owner/Manager:

    This person is responsible for understanding market needs and defining the product vision. They gather feedback, prioritize features, and decide what should be included in the MVP.

    Developers/Engineers:

    In an MVP development company, the technical experts write the code and build the product. They bring the product owner’s vision to life and ensure the functionalities are implemented correctly.

    Designer/UX Specialist:

    Focuses on the user experience (UX) and the product’s visual design. They work closely with the product owner to create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.

    QA/Testers:

    Quality Assurance (QA) testers ensure the product works as intended. They test the product thoroughly, identify bugs or issues, and provide feedback to the development team.

    Business Analyst:

    Analyzes market trends, competitor products, and customer needs. They provide insights and suggestions to the product owner, helping them make informed decisions.

    Marketing Specialist:

    Sometimes, a marketing specialist may be part of the MVP crew. Their role is to develop a marketing strategy, define target audiences, and create promotional materials to generate initial interest in the product.

    Core Techs and Architecture Patterns in MVP Development

    In MVP development, certain core technologies and architecture patterns are commonly used. Let’s explore them below:

    Databases:

    MVPs often require a database to store and retrieve data. Depending on the project’s needs, common choices include relational databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL or NoSQL databases like MongoDB or Firebase.

    Programming Languages:

    The choice of programming language depends on the project requirements, team expertise, and scalability needs. Common programming languages used in MVP development include JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and Java.

    Front-end Development:

    An MVP’s front-end, or client-side, typically involves HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These technologies create the user interface (UI) and handle user interactions. Frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js are often utilized to streamline front-end development.

    Back-end Development:

    The back end, or server-side, handles the logic, data storage, and communication between the client-side and databases. Popular back-end technologies include Node.js (using frameworks like Express.js) or Python (with frameworks like Django or Flask).

    Microservices Architecture:

    MVPs can benefit from a microservices architecture pattern, which involves breaking the application into smaller, loosely coupled services. Each service focuses on a specific functionality, making it easier to develop, scale, and maintain different system parts independently.

    Cloud Services:

    Cloud-based services are commonly used in MVP development due to their scalability and cost-effectiveness. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offer various services such as hosting, storage, databases, and serverless computing.

    Continuous Integration/Deployment (CI/CD):

    CI/CD practices help streamline development. Tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, or GitLab CI/CD automate building, testing, and deploying the MVP, ensuring a more efficient and reliable development workflow.

    RESTful APIs:

    MVPs often employ Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs to enable communication between the front-end and back-end components. RESTful APIs provide a standardized way of accessing and manipulating data using HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, or DELETE.

    How Much Does It Cost To Build A Minimum Viable Product?

    The cost of building a minimum viable product can vary depending on the specific product and its features. On average, MVP development costs range from $25,000 to $50,000. However, it’s important to consider that the scope of work for different types of products can vary significantly.

    Rather than providing general numbers, discussing the costs associated with specific features or stages of MVP development is more helpful. Here’s an overview of each stage’s approximate time and costs:

    ● Market Research: Takes about two to three weeks and costs about $7,000 – $10,000.

    ● Prototype: Takes about two weeks and costs: $7,000 – $10,000.

    ● MVP Development: This takes around two weeks also and is priced between $10,000 – $30,000.

    Bottom Line

    Creating a minimum viable product has consistently shown value in software development. It allows businesses to test their ideas before fully committing to them, avoiding potential investments in unviable or misaligned concepts.

    An MVP is a foundation for making informed business decisions based on gathered information. It can also be utilized to attract potential investors.

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