Our time is undeniably the era of a mobile Web, mobile devices, and mobile apps. Designed for Android and iOS, they can perform almost any function we might need in our daily lives. The current number of solutions available in Google Play and AppStore is terrific, and new ones appear daily. Most of them fail.
You might have heard scary numbers for the startup failures – the stats data claim that it is up to 90% of all new startups that don’t survive. It is not even the question of money or the power of teams standing behind the product. Just remember the latest scary failure of the Quibi platform or Google’s failed products.
Still, many thousands of failures give us loads of priceless information for analysis. Both success and failure have their patterns and similar signs. Of course, any success requires some share of luck, but we already know tangible and measurable factors to consider for any new product.
Failures: why do they happen?
Many startups repeat the same mistakes. It might seem strange in our time when there are so much data and analytics from countless failures. It’s not the subject of this article to analyze why people ignore those data, though. Instead, let’s review the factors that affected the products on start and caused their decline.
- No demand. We all know the statement that the need will bring the supply, but the opposite case is as typical. Many things did not have a specific demand when they arrived, but the public accepted and valued them. Any product starts with an idea when you think that the public will need some service. The catch is, that idea might seem brilliant to you, but, in fact, it is not. To evaluate it properly, you need in-depth research, and still, you might see the real feedback when you release it only.
- Insufficient preliminary researches. It covers the target audience and the target markets. Wrong positioning of the product or mismatching it with the market specificity is the most common reason for failure.
- The competition. It is always the main obstacle when you plan to enter the market that already has similar products. You plan your startup like the one outplaying the existing rivals. Unfortunately, a typical case is that the unique features you offer in your product are not so persuasive or catchy as you considered them to be. At the same time, the rest of the options are already present in other solutions. As a result, the startup fails.
- User experience problems. Users may install a dozen of apps and delete them after a couple of seconds of usage. A product without an excellent user experience is doomed. Any slightest issue in the navigation or any awkwardness in design and performance will kill the user’s desire to work with this solution. Mostly, it does not get a second chance.
- Security issues. Now when such a significant part of our daily lives happens online, the question of safety is burning. Cyberbullying, stealing sensitive information, and even hackers’ attacks are the common threats of the digital world. Any hint of the possible security breach makes the public leave this app for good.
- Inconsistent promotion. You may have an excellent product that is powerful, user-friendly, and doing all the things that your clients need, and more. Still, it will fail because the public won’t know about it. It is impossible to rely on “let is speak for itself” approach now – there are too many competitors. The buzz around your product must be present. Otherwise, the less functional and convenient, but “louder” apps will eat it.
- Ignoring an MVP. This factor is often the most influential one. Researches and analytics are essential, but scanty if they are theory only. It is impossible to predict lots of factors that the ready product will face. When you release the final product with all its options, you might not even detect the most significant problems. Rework takes too much time, let alone that you might not have the resource by then.
In this case, an MVP may be the best trump card you have.
The role and value of an MVP
An MVP is the abbreviation for the “minimum viable product,” the “skeleton” version of the final solution. Unlike a prototype, it is working software that you can release to the market. It has basic functionality, but all its present functions are active.
Such a product version operates in an open environment. It can attract users and collect their feedback for the developers. In this way, it serves several goals. The most essential is making mass public QA testing under full load and the opportunity to evaluate the business ideas and production values for the users.
One more argument in favor of building an MVP is the price. This basic version is significantly cheaper than the final product, but its advantages are impressive. The successful MVP confirms that the product you want to offer to the market is in demand. There, you launch the final version – or change/reject the concept.
The crucial aspects that your MVP serves for are three:
- Identify the core value;
- Test and validate the business idea;
- Let the users interact with the product.
All these principles worked perfectly for such market leaders as Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook. Yes, those were startups that survived once, and their paths illustrate the proper approach to the MVP planning and building.
Identify the core value (Uber)
It seems to many product owners that the more features and options you present to the audience at once, the better. However, it won’t be the right approach for an MVP. It has a “minimum” in its name for a reason.
The most efficient model is to define one core value of your product. This central statement then will work for the target audience, the market niche, and all the other aspects.
Uber, the global leader, once was a startup based on the idea to let the mobile book a taxi from a mobile app and pay by credit card. The MVP was available to a small group of customers who were the primary testers. These people’s feedbacks proved that the idea made sense. Besides, it provided one more important conclusion – the cab drivers also needed this service to find passengers.
With the help of an MVP, Uber could define and prove its core values and adjust and improve the business model.
Test and validate the business idea (Airbnb)
An MVP does the most crucial thing: it tests the business idea in the field environment. Before you roll the product out, you have the assumptions only. A working MVP lets you validate them.
The Airbnb startup creators assumed several factors for their success at once. They admitted that the travellers would stay in hosts’ houses instead of hotels and that the hosts would rent their apartments to travellers. Moreover, it should be regularly.
It took lengthy and thorough research to determine the target audience, both the travellers and hosts. The MVP succeeded invalidating these assumptions. Thus, the Airbnb creators got their ideas proved. The MVP was scaled to the global platform.
Let the users interact with the product (Facebook)
To be successful, the tool has to allow the user to do certain things and make them accessible and convenient. All these factors must be present in an MVP.
When Facebook arose, it was not the first player in the field, there were other platforms, and some of them were quite functional and had their audiences and popularity. Facebook provided its users with a social network’s functionality – the ability to meet each other and group around some interests to communicate.
It offered the possibility to find people easy, make friends, like, share, comment, etc. It focused on the option for users to communicate with each other, no matter their geographical location. This early decision ensured the superiority of Facebook and its win over the competitors.
These three aspects are crucial for the MVP building. However, there are more features to consider when you plan the essential product to make it successful.
What makes the MVP proper
- Focus on the client. Specificity is the key. First, it defines what features you need to include. Second – it determines which features you don’t need in that product. That’s why it is so crucial to understanding the buyer’s persona and their needs. This way, only you can build the proper functionality and ensure the positive user experience.
- Focus on the feedback. Of course, you develop the MVP for a particular audience, but it does not mean that other users won’t try it. It can help you discover an additional niche and look at the product from a different angle. Thus, collect the feedback from as many users as possible, and analyze it thoroughly.
- Focus on adequacy. Some developers view the MVP concept as “do as less as possible,” but it is the wrong approach. The most critical task is to figure the right functionality for this version. The must-have features are ensuring task performance. The performance features demonstrate how your product is superior to the competitors. The delighter features are those making your app unique. For success, you need all three features types in an MVP.
An MVP is a significant vote in your favor, but, unfortunately, it is not guaranteed to succeed. It can fail. The lower development price makes this blow not so painful. On the other hand, it’s better to predict the possible issues and avoid mistakes.
- Vague business model. Quite frequently, entrepreneurs get carried away by the latest technologies. They want to implement these technologies and their effects first instead of building a transparent and consistent business model. It can be a grave mistake. Understanding your audience and their needs must come first. Then you see it clearly how they can benefit from your app, and why they should spend money on it.
- Putting user experience aside. A mistake no less terrible is to focus on features, while ignoring the user’s interaction with the product. An app can be a collection of excellent features that the user would not work with because they are unobvious and inconvenient to operate. It covers the navigation, the design, the performance, and different versions of the application for different devices. The user’s comfort should have the priority.
- Too many expenses. It is a common problem when the business owners want the fully functional product at once instead of MVP. It increases risks, and when you identify any complications or misconceptions, you might not have resources to fix them. In this case, it becomes vital to define the proper functionality of the MVP and save resources.
Building the MVP correctly
Now when we’ve determined all the catches waiting for the software developers on the way, it is time to focus on the right way to do the job.
Research the market to evaluate your idea
Know your customers! It is the priority approach to any product development. Collect as much reliable data as possible, and analyze them. The goal here is to understand what your users expect. It relates to the functionality, the user experience, and even design. At this stage, it is also critical to examine your competitors. Define what they offer to the users, in what form, and think how you can outplay it.
Develop the core values
It is the set of critical features of your application. It determines what the product does and how it does it. If you develop this section correctly, you can get excellent hints on future improvements. Besides, the core values let you understand the architecture of the planned product. It is the pivot of the entire functionality, and you build the rest of the interactions and options around it.
The critical value comes to the users’ interactions with the product. You need to elaborate on them to make sure that the users will always repeat the necessary things easily. It all focuses on the primary operations: create the value, consume the value, and curate the value.
Curate the value
You can only ensure that the users will refer to the product regularly if you curate the content to ensure its quality. It can be possible with manual actions or automatically, but you need to consider the MVP curation strategy. The best approach is to take care of it at the design stage.
The problem of safety is multi-sided, and it depends on the service type you provide. If the interaction is digital-only, it requires a complex of measures. However, if your business implies physical interaction, it is critical to take care of it. Uber or Airbnb mentioned in this article earlier, deal with personal interactions between people. Their businesses involve insurance for the customers, which is an additional question to resolve.
MVP is more than the option to diminish risks. Very often, investors demand it as an obligatory item in the presentation. When improved according to the initial feedback, it turns into the flawless version winning the market.
Cost-saving and functional enough, it is the best trump card to attract both customers and investors. The thing already doing the job well is a proper goal to improve it, promote it, and earn money.