MVP

Imagine this scenario, you’re sitting in box seats at the United Center watching a Bulls game. There is less than a minute left. Your hero, Michael Jordan, slowly dribbles the ball up the court. He does a head fake, a smooth cross over, a little spin, unrolls his tongue from his mouth to let it air out, and lays the ball nicely off the glass to take a 5 point lead with 10 seconds left in the game. The crowd starts chanting “MVP! MVP! MVP!” Wow, can you see the hairs on the back of your neck starting to rise up?

Now you’re probably thinking how does an MVP chant at the Bulls game relate to developing a mobile app? Well, it doesn’t. Turns out acronyms exist and can be used in different environments =P. In the mobile app development industry, MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product.

In this article we’ll go over what an MVP actually consists of, why you and your team should consider developing an MVP, and how an MVP will help launch your product down the right path to success.

Per, arguably the greatest resource to find information, Wikipedia, a MVP is defined as “In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is a product which has just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.”1

A minimum viable product has just those core features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. This allows you to get your app into the hands of end users. Anyone can sit back and speculate on what they think the hottest trends, the coolest features, or even the color schemes will be the next big thing in mobile development. But without legitimate end user feedback, this is all just a pipe dream. Illusions of grandeur are a common occurrence in the app development world. Once a team has developed an MVP they can then make more justifiable decisions on the direction of the app, the features, and whether or not the app is worth pursuing for the future potential ROI (return on investment).

The man who made the acronym MVP famous, Steve Blank, once said “You’re selling the vision and delivering the minimum feature set to visionaries, not everyone.”2

An MVP lets you eliminate uncertainty with your app. This implies that your team can work smarter, not necessarily harder. When working with an air tight budget, it only makes the most sense to ensure that the efforts and funds put into the project, will have the highest probabilities of success.

Take this for example:

Gentleman #1: Hey bro, I’ve got this awesome app idea. We’re gonna be millionaires.
Gentleman #2: Awesome bro. Fist pound. What’s it all about?
Gentleman #1: You take radio and put it on the internet. (Silicon Valley reference)
Gentleman #2: Wow! That sounds like a great idea. How much money can you invest to create the app?
Gentleman #1: My dad said he can give me like 5 grand. So we can just have some coder guy make us the app in a weekend. I heard Flappy Bird was made in a weekend and that app was insanely popular.
Gentleman #2: Dude, you’re so right. We are gonna be millionaires. You want another drink?  Bartender, 2 more beers over here!

So many people just want to armchair quarterback different ideas that they have. This isn’t the 1900’s anymore. Just having an idea and throwing money at it won’t make you an overnight millionaire. Turns out to become successful when developing an app it takes time, money and sweat equity. What most people overlook is that creating an app is actually creating a business model. Compare it to having children. A husband doesn’t just decide one day to say to his smoking hot wife, “Oh, I love you more than words can explain. We should have a baby together.” And then 9 months later after the lovely couple goes through pregnancy together, they just throw up their arms and say “Ok, we had a baby boy. Now on to the next phase of our life.” And just ignore the child. No way Jose. They are spending the next 18+ years taking care of the child. Nurturing him, loving him, teaching him everything he needs to know to grow up to be a successful son, man, and husband.

I’ve heard so many horror stories and experienced firsthand people who come up with great app ideas but just are not willing to put forth the effort into bringing the app to fruition. I was actually giving some feedback to a friend of mine who had a fairly good app idea. We had a sit-down meeting for about 2+ hours to discuss details and what to expect in development. I gave him a few pointers on costs, time, effort, etc. I actually recommended him applying for an incubator in town. When i got into details to what that would entail, his response was “Oh, I don’t know man. Going to the incubator everyday would cut into my personal time. I’ve got class and some other stuff, ya know?” “No, I don’t know” “Well, I’ve got basketball to play after class, and my girlfriend requires a lot of attention every day, and my Xbox isn’t gonna play itself.” Ok, well this jokester definitely does not have his priorities straight to launch an app. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone can make their own decisions and priorities in life. We just can’t realistically believe we’re going to make an app that will be the next Snapchat when we’re not willing to put in the time, money and effort to make it successful.

For reference, I’m familiar with the counter argument of, “Oh, but I already asked my friends and they said it was a great idea. So my app will without a shadow of a doubt be super successful.”  Hmm, quite an interesting take on letting people express their opinions and how to take action to it. Here’s the thing, we all know people will talk a big talk but what it really comes down to is the action they take. Hence, put your money where your mouth is.  People may think something is a good idea or even a bad idea for that matter (hater’s gonna hate), so once you get an MVP into their hands, you will not be able to have any hard evidence of potential success or fixable bumps in the road.

Maybe, you’re just getting started with your mobile app idea. Maybe your idea is sound and you want to take the plunge into running a mobile app company. Or you just want to get an app in the app store to impress the ladies. Whatever your reasoning is for developing an app, we’ll take the time to chat. We can’t make any promises because we want to ensure that we can deliver what you want, in a timely manner, and on budget. Choosing the correct provider for your app is crucial, so make the right choice.

Like Guy Kawasaki once said: “Market research and business planning are overrated. The best market research is putting a product out and seeing if people will buy it. The best business plan is to create something great and sell it fast.”

To get a firm grasp on what it takes to bring an app idea to fruition, check out our article on Running A Mobile App Company. To wrap up, an MVP is not what most people expect to get when they have an app idea. But in my humble opinion, it’s best to listen to people who’ve walked the walk. Creating an MVP is crucial to an app’s overall success. Given that, a minimum viable product is therefore not a product. It is a minimum viable go to market step.

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  • 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product#cite_note-Ries.2C_Eric-1
  • 2. http://steveblank.com/2010/03/04/perfection-by-subtraction-the-minimum-feature-set/