How Much Does A Minimum Viable Product Cost

If you’ve ever wanted to hire a mobile app agency or a freelancer to build your MVP (minimum viable product), you’ve probably been hit with prices anywhere between $500 and $1,000,000. That’s a huge gap! During the early stages of your product, your goal is to build an MVP to validate your business idea. To get the most out of your MVP, you’ll want to build only what is necessary. Once you know what is and isn’t necessary you’ll understand exactly how to price your MVP. We will go into the differences between an MVP and a prototype. We’ll touch upon the factors that determine the price. Finally, we’ll answer your question: How much should your MVP cost?

Your Minimum Viable Product Is An Investment

The minimum viable product is the initial investment in your product. The purpose of an MVP is to validate your business idea. Your minimum viable product is not your final product. Most of the time it is not suitable to launch to the entire world. Simply put, your MVP is an experiment that answers the most important question for your product: Is this viable? A successful MVP can give you enough traction to raise funding. A failed MVP will demonstrate that your initial solution to your customer’s problem isn’t good enough. An MVP can also show you that the problem that you’re solving isn’t worth much to your customers. MVPs save time and money by keeping you focused on the problems and solutions that are relevant to your customers. If your solution is not valuable, you’ll know immediately; not after six months of design and development. Prototypes can also help you validate a product idea. However, prototypes are often incomplete implementations. Prototypes rely on the illusion of a product rather than a working product. A prototype can simply be a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation that shows the different sections of your idea. An MVP could be an underlying implementation of your app idea that runs on your phone.

Lower MVP Costs By Being Lean

The Key to building a minimum viable product is staying lean throughout the majority of the process. The Lean Startup popularized the concept of the MVP. According to Eric Reis, the most successful companies build upon their ideas in small iterations. The idea tests, measures, and analyzes each feature and tweak it so that you solve your customer’s problems while building them something that they want to use. Your MVP is the core features that make your product great. Knowing this, we can assume that the size of an MVP depends on the size of your product. If you’re building an app that lets you share stickers with your friends, your MVP should only focus on the quality of stickers and the sharing these awesome stickers with friends. Everything else should fall by the wayside. Remember that the purpose for the MVP is to validate your idea. For the example app, we’d validate how many times the user shares the stickers with their friends. You can also measure a number of purchases made per user, and even calculate the likelihood of a user making a purchase. Measure these interactions and other key business activities, and you’ll have an excellent MVP that you can leverage to get to the next stage of your product.

Show Your MVP To A Few Users

Your MVP is not ready for prime time. You should launch your MVP to a small section of users with the purpose of gathering data. Your MVP should not win any design or interaction awards. It should instead fulfil your user’s needs. Your minimum viable product mustn’t focus on scalability or even getting the right technology stack right. If you spend your time on design and scalability without validating your business idea or achieving product market fit, you are throwing away money. Instead, focus on what matters, your core features. You should iterate on your core features until you have a product that your users love. The process of iteration is where you’ll spend the most time and money. Your product will go through cycles where you experiment with the product and measure the effects of your efforts. It’s here that you get the most value.

Iterate for Success

Iterating on your product’s MVP allows you to gain validated learning. Validated learning gives you the insight to push forward on your product idea or to pivot. When you can honestly say that your product is a hit with your test group and your app is hitting or exceeding your key performance indicators, you’ll know that it’s time to stay the course. However, if you find that your MVP isn’t gaining traction, you’ll have the opportunity to pivot without wasting time and money. Without going through this process, you risk building the wrong product.

If Your Product Exists Build An MVP Anyway

There are instances where you may find a product or service on the market that is similar to your idea. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because this product exists, it stands as validation for your product. Apps like Facebook, Uber, and Twitter exist today in their current funded state. These apps receive millions of dollars in funding to be where they are right now. Most untested start-ups don’t have this luxury and begin moving forward with costly development without doing the groundwork to validate their products. Do not take this risk, unless you are willing to bet your development’s time money and energy. Instead, before development, identify the riskiest propositions of your idea and test it using the cheapest methods possible. Once validated then move to actual production.

It’s Worth The Investment

An MVP, though small, can be a hefty investment. The benefits of testing your product before launching to the public, however, is priceless. Build an MVP to gain validated learning for your product. You want to give it the best chance to succeed. Therefore, build your product in small manageable chunks. Focus on prototyping features and validating them with your core audience. Once each feature is good enough and the calumniation of the features solve your customers’ core problem, you have an MVP. If you’re thinking about building an MVP or performing a Design Sprint, we can start talking about that today.

Ken Vermeille
Ken Vermeille
The founder and CEO of Vermillion Sky. Ken Vermeille has 15 years of experience in product design and development. Creating his first website at 12 years old, he continues to build his talents by leveraging his ability to learn and implement any technology. In the past he's worked on mobile and web apps, video games, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, business model generation, and anything to keep Vermillion Sky at the cutting edge of product design and development.