How to build your MVP: A complete guide for startups in 2023

February 11, 2024


No company is eager to invest in a product just to find out later that either there is no issue it resolves or the target market is insufficiently large. Read the full MVP for startups.

No company is eager to invest in a product just to find out later that either there is no issue it resolves or the target market is insufficiently large. The solution to this challenge in innovative product development is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This concept has been a highly successful launch strategy for industry giants like  Figma and Uber.

Instead of hastily coding what might be the next breakthrough, it's wise to start with an MVP. Identify your narrative and describe its distinctiveness. What benefit does it provide, and what problem does it address? Here is a roadmap for constructing MVPs, step by step.

What is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

An MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a streamlined version of a product containing only the essential features that make up its core value proposition. The goal of creating an MVP is to expedite the time to market, attract initial users, and establish a product-market fit early in the process.

The idea of the MVP revolves around incorporating the "bare essentials" – the fundamental features necessary to meet the needs of early customers. The subsequent phase involves gathering feedback that can guide the direction of future product enhancements.

Eric Ries, who popularized this concept, described an MVP as a rendition of a new product that lets a team gather the most customer learning with the least amount of effort.

MVP’s Purpose

Just as laying the foundation is a crucial first step in building a house, creating an MVP is essential in developing a successful product. The MVP allows you to begin with a focused use case, test it, and then make a critical decision: either pivot and explore a different direction or expand the idea into a full-fledged product solution.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Minimum Viable Product?

The costs for developing an MVP could range from $15K to $50K USD (or more). However, these figures can vary widely depending on the specific product. For example, the work involved in creating an MVP for something like Twitter would differ significantly from that of an Uber-like MVP.

Therefore, discussing the costs related to particular features or stages of MVP development is more meaningful than providing broad numbers. As features can vary greatly, I believe it would be more useful to outline the cost of each phase for you. Take a look. It's worth noting that research might be conducted simultaneously with prototyping, so the overall process of MVP software development should not exceed one month.

How do I prepare for an MVP for my product as a startup?

You can start your MVP journey with these steps –

  • A thorough market research
  • What value does your product offers
  • Align your user flow
  • Prioritize features that help your audience

What else is an MVP?

An MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, serves as the starting point or seed for your product. It's characterized by a minimal set of essential features that help answer three critical questions:

  • Is there a demand for your product?
  • Does it effectively solve the intended problem?
  • Can it be monetized?

The concept of a "minimum viable product" originated in 2001, coined by Frank Robinson, CEO of SyncDev, along with entrepreneurs Steve Blank and Eric Ries. They were engaged in Customer Development and Validation, and the term MVP emerged as an apt description of a prospective product to gauge market reaction to a particular solution.

Viewed as an experimental approach to validate business hypotheses, the MVP allows entrepreneurs to test whether their business ideas are feasible and lucrative. Instead of pursuing an isolated business model, new companies and startups can use an MVP to identify where viable business opportunities lie.

Michael Seibel, the CEO of Y Combinator, perhaps best encapsulates the idea of an MVP with his words: "Hold the problem you're solving tightly, hold the customer tightly, hold the solution you're building loosely."

Why Is It Important To Build An MVP As An Early-Stage Startup?

The goal of creating an MVP is to swiftly bring a product to market, using a defined concept and a limited budget. By developing an MVP, businesses can gather feedback from users on the initial product and then incorporate those insights into subsequent versions. An MVP enables a company to identify the right target audience, refine ideas based on real-world experience, and conserve valuable time.

Stats Emphasizing The Need To Build An MVP

29% of startups fail because they run out of cash
Startups that scale properly grow 20 times faster than those that scale prematurely

First iteration of your product

Sometimes software and complicated products can’t be developed from scratch. What you could do is plan what are the minimum features your product needs to have a viable product.

You can start testing the market sooner before building the complete product, this helps you having higher chances of success when testing with a small budget instead with the whole budget.

Faster path to product/market fit

The sooner you get to the product/market fit the closer you’re towards having success and a functional product where you can start adding more features. You can validate if the features you decided on priority later and test user interface early in the process. If you don’t receive validation, then you might notice than 30-40% of the things you built where not actually needed or desired. Let your early users/adopters help you work on your roadmap and priorities.

Instead of building a complete set of features, save time and money by building products your users want. Start growing your early adopters base. This would also help you for investment reasons. if your product requires a lot of capital, this could be the initial steps for you to prove that it’s a promising product. MVP goes beyond prototyping but requires less effort and money than a beta version. Building an MVP helps you validating your business model. MVPs help you when planning your development.

As Eric Ries says, “one of the biggest problems startups have is to validate their assumptions and one important way to do so is to test with a minimum valuable product. Test the necessary feature for your target audience”.

MVP standards

Some believe that MVP product development involves crafting a rough product. However, the truth is that an MVP should be functional, test the core hypotheses, and include only the essential features, all within a brief timeframe, typically no longer than three months.

The expectations are high, particularly for startups looking to present their idea to investors. Merely creating a basic black & white app with a subpar interface won't suffice. To make an impression, you must distinguish yourself from the competition and demonstrate that you are a step ahead in your approach.

Successful MVPs

Several renowned companies began their journey with MVPs, and some of the initial iterations might surprise you. For instance, Airbnb's first landing page did not include a payment system. Customers were required to exchange money with hosts in person. While this was a significant issue, the decision was made not to incorporate payments at the MVP stage.

Facebook, another tech giant, initially served students exclusively, providing a platform to create groups for classes and facilitate communication. Now, Facebook is a household name add needs no introduction.

Similarly, when Uber first launched its MVP in 2010, only iPhone users in San Francisco could access the service. Since they were offering cashless payments at a time when people were hesitant to pay for an unfamiliar service, gaining traction was challenging. However, the concept eventually proved successful.

The humble beginnings of these industry giants further underscore the value and potential of starting with an MVP. It's compelling evidence that even the most substantial success stories can begin with a small, focused approach.

Attention from the investors

An MVP serves as a tangible demonstration of your idea, enabling you to present your concept in action rather than merely discussing it at length. Furthermore, if users engage with the product and perceive value in it, your likelihood of securing investments increases significantly.

A better understanding of the domain

Opting to create an MVP leads you to delve more deeply into the problem, industry, and market. In doing so, you gain a better understanding of the domain and uncover untapped opportunities or "white spaces." By contrast, if you jump straight into building a complete product without this exploratory phase, you risk overlooking these valuable insights and opportunities.

Fast & affordable idea validation

Developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) involves creating just the essential features needed to validate the concept, thus minimizing the time and resources required for construction. By focusing solely on the critical aspects of the product, you can produce the most cost-effective version that still provides insight into how real users will respond to it.

A place for low-risk experiments

An MVP gives you room for evolution. Firstly, if some new technologies arise, you can integrate them fairly and softly. Secondly, it's much easier to add new features than to remove unnecessary ones. basically, MVP keeps the product concept flexible for the latest changes.

Difference between prototype and MVP

Why a prototype

A prototype helps you quickly test new products or ideas before launching so you can make updates based on the initial testing. In the startup world, you’ll have to put your idea in the hands of users as soon as you can to understand their challenges, pain points and some other relevant information that can help you when building your product. Prototypes have different characteristics. The fidelity of the prototype or its level of detail. How it’s built; on paper, as a landing page or on Figma/sketch/XD. What functionality or what do you want to learn from it.

What is the difference between a prototype and a Minimum Viable Product?

A prototype is a quick way to test the product’s fundamental ideas and assumptions. On the other hand, an MVP is a usable version of the product that contains only the core features. It is ideal for testing, resulting in feedback and valuable data, but with the least amount of time and money invested at this stage.

How to build an MVP

Product designs

Sketch that you can do by hand or using a tool. A bit more complex is a wireframe, which will help you to understand better like user experience, navigation, hierarchy. or a mockup to demonstrate how you’re product will work.

Landing page

With a landing page you can start showing the benefits quickly and start gathering interest early in the process. you could ask for small things like their email for early sign ups or that they pay a small amount to see if the pricing is also good.

Wizard of oz

Also known as a manual first MVP, involves acting as if your product was ready when in fact is still in development stage. for example you want to test a new grocery delivery service.  To start with the proposition you can go to the store yourself buy the groceries and delivery to the other person’s door. Later on if you receive good traction from the market, you can already hire some other people and find out the logistic part.

Examples of MVPs


Zalando is a German company that started in 2008 very similar to Zappos. They started with just an online storefront where they took pictures of shoes from shoe stores.


The Airbnb MVP was a lean landing page to check if people would book apartments. In fact, they did.


The MVP connected cab drivers with Iphone owners in San Francisco, allowing them pay for the ride with a credit card. Enough to confirm people was ready for a new cab experience.

Mistakes to avoid when building an MVP

1. An MVP must be a prototype

Some people think an MVP is a prototype and the other way around. Depending on the service or product you’re selling, the MVP doesn’t need to be fully working product. Some MVPs could also be just a video or a landing page. In the dropbox example, they released a video before building anything.  

2. Choosing the wrong problem to solve

Before investing months of work into developing a product, the first step is to evaluate whether the product is even worth pursuing. A business must analyze the specific problem they intend to address with their startup, asking themselves key questions like:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What issue is this product meant to resolve?
  • Is the idea presented a viable solution to that problem?

Targeting everyone often leads to reaching no one. It's essential first to identify the right "door" before crafting the "key." A beautiful key is useless if it doesn't unlock the right door.

3. Skipping the prototype phase

Think about trying to assemble a car without looking at a visual model; it seems almost unfeasible. Plunging directly into the development process without clearly defining the requirements can be a complex task.

A critical phase in product development involves transforming a distinctive idea into a fully operational product or service. Situated between the initial concept and the complete product is the prototype, which emphasizes the 'how' aspect of the item.

You can think of prototyping as creating an MVP for the MVP itself. It's not a fully functional version but a rendition that helps illustrate the user experience of the minimum viable product.

4. Confusion between qualitative and quantitative feedback

Qualitative and quantitative feedback are two essential methods for gathering data from target users, and relying solely on one while ignoring the other can prevent a business from arriving at an accurate conclusion.

Each type of feedback plays a distinct role, and striking the correct balance between the two is crucial for drawing a comprehensive conclusion that can lead to intelligent modifications.

Qualitative feedback involves insights related to the quality and user-friendliness of a product or service's features. This type of feedback directly evaluates the system's usability, assisting developers in pinpointing specific UI elements that may be problematic.

Quantitative feedback, on the other hand, is expressed through metrics that indicate the ease or difficulty of performing certain tasks. It offers an indirect assessment of the design's usability. Such feedback is often based on the user's performance during a specific task, such as success rates, number of errors, and so on.

Together, these two feedback forms provide a holistic view of user experience, helping in refining the product according to actual user needs and preferences.

5. Analyze the competition

Delving deep into competitor research is crucial to understanding what your product will face in the market. It's rare to create an MVP that is completely unique, as even the most innovative ideas usually enter an already competitive industry.

So, startups must determine how to position their minimum viable product in a landscape where other businesses are pursuing similar goals. This requires careful examination of the competition, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and identifying their target audience and offerings.

Startups may choose to focus on the same target market as their competitors, or they may decide to cater to a segment that the competition may have neglected. Understanding the competitive environment helps in carving out a unique space for the product, giving it the best chance to succeed.

Evaluating the success of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) involves various techniques that can accurately forecast the potential success of a product. Here's a look at some of the most common and effective ways to gauge the success of an MVP:

    Word of Mouth: Examining the traffic and interviewing potential customers can be valuable for assessing success. This approach involves understanding the customer's problems and soliciting their thoughts.Engagement: This metric helps assess both the current and future value of the product by enhancing the user experience through feedback.Sign-ups: Sign-ups are an actionable way to evaluate user interest, and they may also serve as a measure of potential revenue.User Appraisals Based on Feedback: The number of downloads and the rate of app launches can indicate user interest. The more user-friendly the app, the more downloads it will likely attract.Percentage of Active Users: Beyond download and launch rates, it's vital to analyze user behavior and consistently monitor active user ratings.Client Acquisition Cost (CAC): Understanding the cost to acquire a paying customer can help a startup monitor the efficacy of its marketing efforts. CAC is calculated as the money spent on a traction channel divided by the number of customers acquired through that channel.Number of Paying Users: Keeping tabs on the average revenue per user (ARPU) and tracking revenue-generating products is essential. ARPU is determined by the total income for a given period divided by the number of active users.Client Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV measures how long a user engages with the app before uninstalling or ceasing use. It's calculated as the profit from a user multiplied by the app usage duration, minus the acquisition cost.Churn Rate: Churn rate provides insights into the percentage of users who have uninstalled or ceased using the app. It's calculated as the number of churns per week or month divided by the number of users at the beginning of the same period.

I hope this reading has been enlightening in your path of becoming a great founder. Keep track of our blog and our social media channels, because we are launching an initiative soon to start recruiting startups for our next batch.