Factors Determining The Cost To Build An MVP

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Factors Determining The Cost To Build An MVP

One of the purposes of an MVP is to optimize cost by releasing a skeleton project for market and consumer analysis, but how do you keep the MVP costs down?

· Agile Zone ·
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Just a great idea is not always enough! Your budget and MVP must be planned together to achieve optimal results.

Whether you are developing a mobile app or a website, the cost of building an MVP varies on different factors: planning, design, features, technology stack, and time taken to build. There are various aspects to consider when deciding on a platform that compliments the Agile development process, and costs are based on this.

You can test the product without spending too much money or time on it, and that will present a clear picture of your idea. You're even providing your startup plans an audit, to make sense of what should be done or improved in the future.

The 5 factors determining the cost of MVP development.

1. Planning an Initial Budget to Build an MVP

There are different ways to build an MVP for your startup — hiring freelancers, managing the development on your own, or hiring a software development company. Every option requires an investment of time and money.

When you hire a good software development company with an experienced team of developers, they would quote between $5,000 and $50,000. This price difference is huge when compared to other companies. All you need is to choose the right developer, to bring in agility with the MVP development services.

Once you find the best company for you, share your requirements and budget details so that you can have a well-thought-out discussion with the MVP developer. Usually, mobile app or website development companies tend to give valuable feedback and details on the development process that is best for building your MVP.

Examples of initial budgets invested by famous startups, to build their MVP:

  • Twitter — $50,000 to $250,000
  • Instagram — $100,000 to $300,000 in 3-6 months
  • Facebook — $500,000 in 9 months
  • WhatsApp — $250,000 in 9 months
  • Uber — $1M to $1.5M
  • Pinterest — $120,000 in 4 months
  • Shopify — $250,000 and $300,000 in 4-6 months
  • Vine — $125,000 and $175,000 in 4 to 6 months

2. MVP Cost of Design

The cost depends on the complexity of the design while building an MVP. The best approach to evaluate the cost of MVP design is to estimate the user interface (UI) to be used. Remember that the initial design has a separate cost.

The user interface (UI) should be simple, easy to understand, straightforward to navigate, and keep users engaged, to ensure a better user experience (UX).

Main components deciding the cost structure of UX:


Preparation plays a crucial role in deciding the cost of design. If you want to save time and money, it's good to prepare before you set up a meeting with the company you hired for the design and development process. Once, the preparation is done, then you begin wireframe and mockups. By presenting complete wireframe and mockups, you can be sure that things are on track.


The wireframe is a kind of a skeleton for your app/website. It can be drawn rough, or even on a paper layout of the navigation, screens, and elements in your app. It also outlines the features and complete idea of your app or site. Tools such as Bootstrap can be used to create a wireframe. With available templates, you'll be capable of building a rough layout within hours, and for free.

On average, a wireframe may take 10- 30 hours to develop. It may cost you nothing if you do it on your own. However, if you ask any software company, $500 and up would be the estimated cost, depending on the involvement of the site or app.


Mockup or a "prototype" is an important aspect to design and present projects based on ideas, to the clients for better understanding. A good mockup can help you succeed if presented well.

According to Wikipedia, "In manufacturing and design, a mockup, or mock-up, is a scale or full-size model of a design or device, used for teaching, demonstration, design evaluation, promotion, and other purposes."

It is expected that a mock-up estimation of a landing page cost approximately $500. Every extra screen will cost an additional $50-$70. Based on these prices, you can calculate an estimate for you own. This is how software companies usually charge for their services.

However, if you are familiar with the tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Experience Design, building a simple mockup will be easy. These well-known tools are very helpful and can help you save your money since Photoshop will cost you $10-$20, while Experience Design is totally free.

The Interaction Within the Page

It's not just about creating simple mockups; there is another way to improve interaction within the page. The interactive mockup is a good chance for you to enhance customer engagement. Customers or investors would prefer an interactive solution to a static image.

Tools such as Framer and inVision are your best supporters to build an MVP platform. Interactive mockups cost a little more, compared to the standard mockup. All you need are your regular mockups and a subscription to one of these tools. Alternatively, you can give this work to the designers you've hired, and they will charge $100-$500. It could boost your profits significantly.

3. Number of Features and Their Complexity

The next factor is the need to prioritize and list the number of important features for every phase of a user's journey. The user journey, has three important parts — the user, user actions, and story endings.

While building an MVP, list all the "nice-to-have" features for your startup. Have this list ready to prioritize and ask questions to yourself like:

  • What do you want your users to achieve with the product?
  • What features need to be included in order to make the product more attractive and efficient in its final version?

Before your developer starts working on the MVP, it's crucial to organize categories like "must-have," "nice-to-have," and "don't care" — then ask the developer to work accordingly. This will lessen the chance of failure.

Once the development team gains an understanding of what functionality and features are required, next you need to understand the user.

One of the main principles of the startup business is to understand your users well. Product development and customer development should go hand-in-hand. Both are very important and nothing can be ignored. By testing your product, you get a clear understanding of what your users want and how well your product aligns with the market demand before it gets too late.

The scope of MVP development cost depends on the business requirements.

If we take an example of an e-commerce website, the possible MVP options could be:

  • The first version of the MVP is simple, where users navigate based on categories of the product such as apparel, appliances, health care products, etc.;
  • The second version might be more complex, collecting data related to customer preference and making recommendations accordingly; and
  • The third version will be even more complex, keeping the business perspective in mind, which is more expensive to develop.

The type of platform to be built is also a key factor to consider when determining the MVP development cost. For example, gaming apps need lots of graphics and other built-in mobile mechanisms, whereas a business app deals with content, database management systems, and high-security features.

4. Technology Stack for Your MVP

Next, you need to set and identify the estimated technology stack for your MVP. Whether you are a techie or not familiar with the latest technology, you can always ask for recommendations, and see what your development team suggests.

While planning MVP for startup, you can consider some tailored solutions that can be easily coordinated. However, if you want to avoid future challenges, take suggestions for whether you should use a native or hybrid solution.

It is cost-effective to develop websites and apps, with the help of hybrid or native development technology stack. Earlier, developers used native codes within the hybrid environment, to implement features that are only available through native development. However, this turned out to be a long process to enhance the user experience.

In comparison, hybrid apps are easier and faster to develop and deploy. They help in leveraging high-quality features with less development time.

5. Time Taken to Develop An MVP

The time taken to complete the first version of an MVP should not be much. During this time-period, development and designing are used to build an MVP. If you consider that MVP evaluation either, depends on a 2-4 month timeline, or is based on Agile methodology, you can likely calculate a budget by referring to different mobile apps or site development companies.

The cost ranges from $15 to $75 per hour. The early budget varies a lot and relies on the company's hourly rate, and the number of developers associated with the project.

For example, one company works for 2 months with 8 developers at a cost of $20/hour, and another company works for 4 months with 4 developers at a cost of $20/hour, which one is the best?

And the answer is, of course, the first one, because manual power increased and time taken to develop your product decreased. This helps with faster time to market, better ROI.

The price of a development company starts at $10,000. This can be considered the average cost to develop a minimum viable product, but depends on the complexity of the project. Each project has their own specifications, which further influence the timeline and budget of MVP development.

Major benefits of shortened development time:

  • Less development time leads to lower development costs
  • The faster you release the product to your target audience, the quicker you will get feedback. This enables you to make improvements and changes to your site or app, and release the updated version in a matter of seconds
  • Reduces the risk of your idea being stolen


Now that you have identified factors determining the cost to build an MVP for startups, you should figure out what is right for your business as per quality and cost. Remember that design and development are the two main aspects that can save both time and money. To turn your ideas into reality and get on your target audience's radar, all you need is to formulate the business hypothesis, identify the main functions and pick a good software development company for your project.

Don't let your idea fail: build an MVP for your startup with the real cost of development.

mvp ,startup ,cost managment ,agile ,cost analysis

Published at DZone with permission of Abhay Vohra , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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