You'll have to share a laugh at the word "minimum" regarding minimum viable product aka MVP – not to be confused with the most valuable player. The laugh you'll share with your entire team, especially if you've made it to the crucial phase of MVP development. Because it's not "minimum" for you, we know that you spent a lot of time working on it. Software development was and never will be about "minimums."
When talking about digital product development, a lot comes to mind, from prototyping, A/B testing, lots of coffee to keep you and your entire team awake at night, and gray trims into getting your MVP phase ready. It's a feat worth celebrating.
So, why do many startups fail to deliver after the MVP development phase? They transformed their idea into a product – an outstanding achievement – only to fall flat on their faces. Failure to progress to the next stage, they miss the opportunity to deliver on their promises mentioned in their MVP.
There are lots of reasons why MVPs wither. These are the three examples that stood out for us:
- Investor bigotry – the ideal may not be as great as the founders thought, and the data might call for a veer.
- Failure to prototype – prototypes are meant to provoke problems before the public gets a chance to at the product.
- Misinterpreting of minimum for maximum – overloading the MVP with features, or trying to try to better the product for the launch, defeats the purpose of an MVP
Please don't tread on those murky waters of the cautionary stories that entrepreneurs made it to the MVP, and then they fizzled out. Here are five things to look for when developing a SaaS – software as a service – from MVP to a full-scale product.
1. Feedback collection and analysis
Remember that the whole idea is feedback collection from your customers, not to make it a viral hit. That's why MVP development aims to include the minimum features necessary to start presenting the product to its target audience.
Before your MVP launch, all you have to go on are focus groups and presumption. MVP development is about utilizing the data collected from MVP to better the SaaS platform you want your solution to be.
To use the MVP effectively and correctly, you have to collect how your customers interact with your product. You will track user behavior, interact and drop off at every touchpoint to establish features that need improvements, additions, or omissions as you move from MVP to SaaS product.
Remember to focus on all the feedback, including the negative ones. Customers who give you negative feedback do you a favor by telling you problems you can improve or solve as you move past MVP development into product development.
Loads of startups have failed miserably after fruitful MVP development because they didn't consider their scalability options. As you transition from MVP to product, it's crucial to stop protecting yourself against failure and prepare for success.
What if 150,000 wanted your product within 12 hours? Do you have the workforce, infrastructure, and resources to handle that massive explosion? You will not need the servers to handle such an enormous load, but you should consider that more and more people will use your product sometime in the future.
For SaaS development, it means addressing your processes, CRM and website, payments, and support.
It's worth mentioning that startups often overlook the scalability of their products, especially when it comes to CRM and the website. At first, they don't have a budget, so their solution might be cheap but perfectly working for the number of users. But when it comes to scaling, they either don't have time and internal resources to make a step forward and upgrade the CRM and website. Cloud-based solutions might be a thing for you, but consider where do you want to keep your data.
3. Contemplate hard about pricing
Business model and pricing is another talking point when it comes to the MVP phase of digital project development. You never want to make assumptions about pricing on a 'minimum viable product'; it's simply a nono. It's merely a minimum value for your customers, so what they would be willing to pay wouldn't be conclusive.
While an MVP might not have all the features, but the final product will do. And the must-have feature is the key problem your SaaS is designed to solve. So while it does its work, why charge less?
You could use MVP to test your pricing assumptions and the willingness of people to pay. Consider the dropoffs – increase the price a look at your sales funnel, then consider conversion rate and cost per lead. It's a simple but yet effective formula.
As your product grows, you might add additional costs into the pricing for a new set of features, but don't underestimate the value of your product even on the MVP stage.
4. Channel your spending towards your marketing strategy
Why? It's not your final product, and many startups fail to invest in marketing after they have launched their MVP. Again, this is a blunder. Your MVP launch isn't just convenient for tracking consumer feedback to a basic version of your product. It's also an opportune moment to get your feet wet in your marketing strategy to help you transition from MVP to product.
Your MVP traffic is also great for collecting leads. You can use email signup lists and marketing pixels or cookies to start building a stable list of qualified prospects to reach out to once your product is about to launch – leads that already expressed interest in your MVP.
5. Analysis and testing never end
The best thing about SaaS solutions is that they are flexible and easy to change when developed right.
Even after having a fully functional product, analysis and testing continue. To a greater extent, MVP development is about a dry run for your product and API metrics. Everything you track during the MVP inauguration – traffic, conversions, social media engagement, customer satisfaction, etc. needs checking daily during your product launch. That way, you can continually improve your customer journey and the product itself, which leads to better customer satisfaction.
Even if you got the first crack at marketing in the MVP phase, continue tracking the performance of your campaign and carry out A/B testing to gain a greater understanding of the best cost-per-conversion possible.
If you're prepared to go the extra mile, then you should buckle up. Moving from MVP to product is for the brave. And if you weathered the storm during the MVP phase, you have the dexterity to succeed. With stellar planning and acknowledging what difficulties you're going to face, the MVP won't be your final startup tale – it will be the dawn of something bigger than you.