Aug 09, 2017

Five steps to create an MVP for successful startup

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Jakub Borowczyk
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Here is the process of creating an MVP from a programmers point of view. This post will not tell you how to get an idea or how to test it in various ways, it is about what to do when it comes to coding. 

Before getting further let me remind you what this mysterious shortcut means. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. Eric Ries defines MVP as “version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”.  

We use a simple general rule when building an MVP - less means more. We take just few core functionalities and combine them into one product.
The simpler and clearer the product is, the greater value it has for you. Why? Because you can launch it faster and it will give you money sooner, hopefully. Most of all, you acquire priceless data, invaluable to validate what users are really willing to pay.

Minimal doesn’t mean unfinished. That is why we divide the process of building an MVP into smaller parts.

We use a worksheet to help us get through the process of making MVP. You can download it here. 

Before using this worksheet, there is one more thing that need to be done: 

Step 1: Specify what brings a profit. 

You have to precisely describe where and when a client pays for using your product. Is it after the service or before? Is it a one-time payment or a monthly fee?

This is important because every feature takes a time to build and test. And that time costs you double. First, because you have to pay programmer wages; second, because your application could earn you money while wasting time on being developed.

We learned the importance of this approach on our own failure. Project started in 2013. Half a year later, the owner decided to shut the project down because it wasn’t giving any profit. But we learned two important things: 
First, MVP approach is great because if we add more features, we would lose a lot more money. The second lesson was we are good in coding, we have a great team and can manage the process well. That is how BinarApps was created. 

Now it is time to use the worksheet, that was mentioned above. Properly built MVP should be described using the first four features, the other two are optional.

Step 2: It has to be functional.
It’s obvious. Quoting Cambridge Dictionary: it has to be effective; helping you do or achieve something. So it has to solve a certain problem.

Step 3: Make sure it is reliable.
There is no worse thing than a page with "Error! Something went wrong!" text after you properly sign in or try to make an order. Programmers need to test the application first, so there will be no bugs spoiling user experience. It is easy to forget about testing while you have to prepare a presentation for an investor, make a marketing plan, meet with journalist etc. In BinarApps we remember that for you. 
We also remember to keep your product safe. A reliable product is also the one that can be trusted, so we do everything to keep it safe from intrusion. 

Step 4: Is it usable?
Can it be used on different platforms? If it is a mobile app, will it work on Android or IOS? Maybe both? Are there no legal contraindications to use your product? 

Step 5: Keep it convenient. 

An application has to be handy, it has to fit well into user needs and activities. When we are trying to make the registration process we design it to be as simple as possible - users don't like to spend much time on it. To keep interface simple and perspicuous we use icons and symbols instead of text whenever we can. As usability is crucial for application's success, our testers seek not only bugs but also ways to make any action as straightforward as possible.

Steps listed above are “must haves”. Without them, your product will be unfinished instead of minimal.