However big, at some point, it started with a simple solution, or MVP, that users found exciting and valuable.
What is MVP?
MVP stands for Minimal Viable Project. This term was coined at the dawn of the 2000s by Steve Blank and his friends. Essentially, MVP is a product with a set of basic features designed to solve the problem for users and bring them value.
Depending on the area in which you work, the problem you're solving, and what your users need, your MVP might be very different.
But what most MVPs have in common is that they lack many extra functionalities that are not essential for your early adopters to start using your product.
For example, for Uber, it was an app that allowed you to book taxis only in San Francisco, without estimates of your time, custom user/driver onboarding, etc. For Airbnb, it was a portal to find listings and contact the owners, even without payments (cos they didn't have time for payments back then).
Why is MVP important?
MVP serves as the first validation of your idea. It's something you can give your first users and ask for feedback. In other words, MVPs are solutions that bring value to users. They are the first step from which you start iterating and improving your product.
MVPs also serve as an important milestone to get attention from investors and (if needed) help raise your subsequent funding round.
In most cases, your MVP will fail in the sense that it won't be the right solution for the right problem for the right people. But, unfortunately, there are so many things to get right from the first attempt that you'll most likely get at least some of them wrong.
That's why the essential part of any MVP is to get feedback and iterate your solution. You should be in love with the problem you're solving and your customers, but not your solution.
For this reason, you should focus on iterating your initial product MVP as fast as possible, not on making it polished or rich with features. And preferably, you should spend as little time and effort on your first MVP as you can so that you have enough time, resources, and energy to iterate it many times after the first launch.
Steps to launch MVP
The good news is that the process of launching MVP is already well-described in many books and examples so that you can leverage the best proactive and avoid common mistakes. Check out "Lean Startup" or "From Zero to One" to start from.
After working on digital products for the last ~10 years and launching dozens of them, I figured out a list of steps on how to launch your MVP the right way. So here it is:
Step 1: Define the problem and the target audience
Great MVPs exist only in the context of solving a specific problem for specific users. MVPs don't live in a vacuum. That's why it's crucial to identify what problem you're trying to solve and for which target audience.
For example, a solution to track the personal finances and finances of the Fortune 500 company will be very different. Even though, in essence, they all have budgets, income and expenses tracking.
Step 2: Conduct user & market research
Once you identify the problem and your audience, it's important to know and understand them well. Ideally, the problem should be something you're familiar with, the solution that you can use yourself (but it is not necessary).
During this stage, you'll search a lot about how your users currently solve the problem, learn your direct or indirect competitors, see the pros and cons of the existing solution, and talk to your users a lot.
Step 3: Design & prototype solution (focus on No-code)
As mentioned, your goal is to design and build your solution as fast as possible. Whatever you can skip or avoid — do it! There will be a lot of iteration ahead of you, for which you'll need time and money.
Then when taking part in YC Startup School in 2019, we were pushed to launch MVP in a few weeks. I thought it was impossible, but eventually, we indeed launched in 4 weeks with Plai.
I firmly believe most MVPs should be launched in 2-4 weeks, preferably without code or minimal development effort.
To achieve this, you can use many of the robust no-code solutions currently available on the market.
For web applications, you can select among Bubble, Webflow, Bildr, Softr. For mobile apps — Adalo, Glide, AppSheet, Thunkable. Use Airtable or Google Sheets as a database, and connect it with Zapier, Parabola, or Tray.io.
The possibilities are almost limitless. And these tools have proven to be highly flexible and scalable, supporting millions of users.
At Sommo, we helped dozens of customers launch MVPs in weeks for $5-15k budgets. For example, the TikTok creator marketplace (with payments) Fantas.ly was launched in a week. A dating app — in just 4 days. An internal solution for the company to set and track their OKRs and internal goals — in under 2 weeks.
Don't hesitate to contact us, and we'll help you define the scope, design the solution and suggest the most efficient tools to kick-start your MVP in days.
Step 4: Test & iterate
When your MVP is out, gather as much feedback as possible from your target audience. So that you can iterate and improve your product every day or week. Luckily, if you've built your MVP using no-code solutions, it's straightforward to make changes and edit content. No engineering or complex re-deployments are required; all happens fast and in real-time.
However, it's essential to understand that almost anyone can give feedback, but only your target audience would give you the most valuable one since they experience the problem you're solving. Therefore, you should mostly listen only to your end-users and customers, not random folks/advisors.
Even though it might sound frightening and impossible to accomplish, nowadays, it's easier than ever to launch digital products. So don't be afraid to make the first step; follow the steps above, and start building your startup.
But also remember that launching MVP is just the beginning of your journey.
Contact us if you're looking for a product partner that can help you scope, design, and launch your MVP in a few weeks! Taking this journey with professional partners is much easier and rewarding!
Q: So, how would I fit within the $1-10k budget?
A: Steps 1, 2, and 4 are mostly free. Building on no-code tools can take you anywhere from days to several weeks, well within the $1-10k budget. Contact us to get a quote.
Q: Is no-code scalable?
A: Most no-code tools easily support hundreds of thousands of users. It's a scale more than enough for 99% of MVPs.
Q: Does it mean that I'll need to re-write my solution to code at some point?
A: Not necessarily. No need to re-write if you don't face any serious limitations and your solution doesn't grow too much. The truth is that most startups fail, so the most likely outcome of your MVP would be your learning about what works and what doesn't. In cases when your startup becomes very successful, and you grow fast and big, and need a complex solution — then yes, you'd want to re-write the product on code. But it's an excellent problem to have, and in that case, most likely you'll have enough resources to do so.