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April 2022

Minimum Viable Products (MVP): The Wirebox Guide

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According to Wikipedia, “a minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.” We agree.

In a world that relies so heavily on tech, and with venture capital investment on the rise year-on-year, it’s no surprise that more-and-more people across the planet are launching innovative tech start-ups, some of which are changing our lives forever.

Just look at Uber, Deliveroo, Tinder and Instagram. However, these tech giants all started the same way: they all started with a minimum viable product.

The goal of an MVP, is to minimise the time, money, and resources spent, with a view to rolling out an early-stage platform as fast as possible to gauge demand, and to capture early feedback, which can be then used to find/establish a ‘product market fit.’ In other words, MVP’s are to prove to yourself, your customers, and your investors that your idea will work.

So how does one make an MVP?

Well, in our post entitled ‘Why You Should Own Your Own Software’, you may recall that we spoke about the difference between out-of-the-box software solutions, and bespoke solutions. And whilst there is no right or wrong way of doing this, there are some pros and cons to consider for each option:

1. Build It Yourself

The “no-code” community is on the rise.

And whilst there certainly IS justification for getting something out quickly in order to gauge traction, and with more and more “no code” solutions such as Spotify entering the market, as we mentioned in our ‘Why You Should Own Your Own Software’ post, these can come with a number of issues, including:

  • Extortionate costs,
  • A lack of customisation,
  • Little-no control,
  • And… the inevitable need to migrate.

Also, depending on how complex your requirements are, you may find that there are no out-of-the-box solutions to cater for your specific needs. But if there are, once again, these can come with a number of issues, including extortionate costs, a lack of customisation, and a lack of control. Round and round we go.

2. Raise A Pre-Seed

This capital will help you to fund your software build. However, it is getting harder and harder to raise pre-seeds. Most VC’s want to see traction, i.e. sales. Also, investors are wary about spending their investment on building a platform, as opposed to increasing sales.

3. Find a Co-Founder/CTO

This is a commonly used option, however, software developers are so high in demand, and they receive proposals so frequently, that it can be hard to get them to commit. Also, one developer will slow down your development progress, and they’ll probably want equity in exchange.

4. Find An Agency

OLIO (the mobile app for food-sharing, with an aim to reduce food waste) famously used an agency to build their early-stage app, which has since gone on to raise $40MIL+ investment, with over a million users.

Agencies can guarantee you a bigger team, more resources, and more experience, and more often than not, they’ll have a variety of frameworks available, meaning that your project can get started and finished faster.

5. Out-of-the-box VS Bespoke

Read this: ‘Why You Should Own Your Own Software

Depending on how complex your solution is, you may be able to get away with an out-of-the-box solution, however in a lot of cases, this won’t cut it. For instance, Shopify doesn’t allow for multi-vendor profiles and payment splitting for marketplaces, and out-of-the-box marketplace solutions can come with a big price tag, and little customisation.

So. What Should My MVP Include, Then?

Let’s use Instagram as an example.

Take a minute to look at how Instagram started: it was just a simple photo-posting platform, a bit like Flickr. But as time went by, video became a widely used feature, Stories and Reels arrived, and now, we’ve got Instagram shopping.

But in the early days, Instagram had millions of users on its MVP alone. So really, your MVP should include the absolute bare-bones, in order to establish whether there is a demand for your idea or not.

Strip your idea back to its most simplistic form, and gather as much feedback as possible during this stage, to figure out how you can implement that feedback in order to build something that people want.

At Wirebox, we’re no stranger to building MVP’s. We’re also experts at building bigger platforms for start-ups who are ready to move out of the MVP stage.

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