7 Reasons Startups Need an MVP
Published by David McCarty on September 29, 2016
Startups face many challenges in growing their business and making their products successful; software shouldn't be one of these challenges, although it often is. Utilizing a minimum viable product for your startup can help you shape the software project's path and attain its ultimate success. This article explains why you need an MVP for your startup's custom solution.
Located in Downtown Troy, Gavant is situated in the heart of Tech Valley. With the Troy Innovation Garage, Tech Valley Center of Gravity, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute calling Troy home, Gavant has no shortage of exposure to creative entrepreneurs that give Tech Valley its name. Events like StartUp Tech Valley and StartUp Grind Albany, in addition to broader statewide initiatives like Start-Up NY, help envelope the region with entrepreneurs looking to establish a foothold. As startups, these entrepreneurial businesses often share the same challenges: needing to get their new technology out quickly, but having a limited budget to do so.
Gavant keeps these needs in mind when engaged with a startup in need of a custom software solution. Our agile-esque development approach lends itself very well to navigating the challenges startups face because multiple iterations help reign in costs while simultaneously expediting time to launch. A key tenet of our process is identifying and developing the software's MVP – minimum viable product. An MVP focuses on the core features and functionality that need to be in place in order to bring the solution to market. All the bells and whistles that can be classified as nice-to-haves are stripped away to get to the essential, primary requirements. Employing an MVP strategy can help you realize a number of benefits. Below, we highlight seven of them.
Benefits of an MVP
Bring focus to the product’s core value proposition. When setting out to create a new software solution, it is easy to get lost in the fog of add-ons and extras. While some of these features will prove worthwhile, many do not address the central problem for which you are building a solution. Removing such nonessential functionality in the early stages of the software's development cycle helps you narrow in on the true value proposition for your custom solution. Isolating this value proposition for your new software product enables you to more effectively deliver a clear, concise message about the software to your target audience.
Identify necessary business functions. Utilizing an MVP development strategy not only uncovers the core value proposition of your software solution, doing so also helps focus on the associated business functions that can make the MVP a viable solution. Marketing efforts, for example, may be necessary in order to identify the proper target audience and deliver the right message so your sales staff and customer service representatives can get the software in the hands of your audience and handle any inquiries. Not every MVP requires the same business functions to be paired with it, but recognizing which are key to supplementing your custom solution helps ensure a proper foundation for success is in place.
Minimize initial development costs. By paring down the project's size to include only elemental features for the initial software release, you can drastically curb your cost of development. Opting for an MVP suits small budgets because the feature set is minimal, requiring less time to bring the software to life and therefore reducing the hit to your wallet. Starting with a full-scale solution necessitates higher costs, as added features require extra man-hours and dollars to put in place. Should the market dictate a path that differs from the one you've built, these early expenditures will have been wasted.
Quickly go to market. Much like how the strategy helps you save real dollars, starting with an MVP can help you save valuable time in getting your software into the hands of its audience. The excess functionality included in the expanded feature set can add considerable time to the developers' workload - time that your software continues to be an idea rather than a reality. Because the requirements are significantly scaled back, an MVP can go live much quicker than a full-scale version and enable you to reach your target audience much sooner. This shortened timeline, from idea to launch, can help fend off competitors: reduce the likelihood of being beaten to market, while having more time to build your own customer base.
Test your idea. A minimum viable product helps you establish the merit of your concept: does your software truly solve a problem for your target audience? Testing your idea is key, as it provides you with valuable feedback that can shape and drive future development. If the software appears to be readily adopted, moving forward to build out the solution with additional requirements and nice-to-haves may be a worthwhile endeavor. However, if the reception of your MVP is lacking, perhaps further development is not warranted, or a different direction needs to be explored. More often than not the market dictates how you should proceed with your solution, so testing with an MVP can help you better align with the likeliest avenue of success.
Create early customer relationships. While you test the validity and viability of your new software, you have the opportunity to establish relationships with your product's early adopters and to strengthen your brand. Early adopters provide essential feedback that is critical in shaping the potential future of your custom solution. Your company's customer service and interactions at this stage can foster preference for your brand amongst early adopters, helping you capture market share that grows as early adopters spread the word. Developing an MVP offers you greater opportunity to form these early relationships by helping get your solution to your audience sooner than if you had developed a full-scale build.
Pivot efficiently. As you test your MVP with your target audience, you may find the feedback is not aligned with your plans for the software's future: the particular goal you set out to achieve or the problem you had strived to resolve was not received as you had hoped. You have now reached a critical point in your solution's life-cycle. Pivoting allows you to alter the previously defined path for your software to better match the demands of the market. It’s common, perhaps even likely, for entrepreneurs to pivot from the initial vision of their startup, and custom software solutions are no exception. Because an MVP targets and eliminates software bloat, pivoting can be undertaken with little waste of dollars, time, and other resources. With an MVP, you can adapt and react more efficiently to better serve your audience.
A minimum viable product strategy requires you to pare down the extra functionalities and add-on features of your custom software solution in order to get to those that are ultimately the essential core needs for usability. By keeping the specs of the MVP to only the core feature set, you can reduce the cost – in both time and money – of getting your solution to market which in turn accelerates the process of reaching and engaging customers. Because an MVP assists in quick innovation and adaptation, it can help you bridge the gap from mere startup to established industry leader.
Are you looking to get started on your MVP? Contact Gavant Software to discuss your scenario today!