How Much Does It Cost to Create an MVP?
Learn why it pays off to develop an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, a complete version of your app without major bugs, but with minimal functions.
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Do you have a unique app idea but you are not sure if it will prove successful in the crowded mobile market? Or do you want to get investors for your app, but they are avoiding you as all you have is the idea in mind and some poor sketches? Maybe you’ve got a huge estimate for the app, but even though you have only $20,000 or $30,000, you still want to give it a try without risking poor code quality?
If any of these scenarios is yes, the answer to your questions is MVP. See what MVP is and how much it costs.
What Is Minimum Viable Product?
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – is an application that has the required minimum capabilities to check it out on the market, but it doesn’t contain any additional or secondary functions, only the core ones.
According to Eric Ries, the co-founder of IMVU and one of the main apologists for the customer development theory, MVP stands for "a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort."
An MVP mobile app should not be mixed up with things like a demo, prototype, or beta version.
- A demo is a demonstration version, always limited by time or functionality.
- A prototype is a very basic version of an app, which includes basic functionalities but lacks the graphic design and cannot be shown to final users.
- A beta version is an unfinished version of the product, which includes errors that are detected and corrected by users during the beta test.
- In comparison, with MVP, you get a complete product, without any serious bugs or limitations, but with a minimum set of functions.
Why MVP Pays Off
Why should I consider building an app which is not the final product, you may ask. Let’s consider some of its best advantages.
1. Finding Investors
Do you think that there are millions of investors in the world who are waiting to pay millions of dollars to get an equity in your app? If your idea is unique, maybe there are. But you have to first get their interest, and that’s not something you achieve by sending them another wordy e-mail, without even mockups or wireframes. Investors want to really see the product they are investing in, so a fully-working MVP can be the perfect opportunity to get their attention and multiply the money they invest in your app.
2. Testing and Improving Your Idea
Another extremely important function of an MVP! No idea is perfect from the very beginning. There are always things you haven’t thought of and issues that only a final user can see. Preparing an MVP version of your app is a perfect way to do the market research and decide whether your app needs improvements.
3. Little Risk Attached
Sometimes you are not sure whether your potential users will really appreciate the app idea you have. Wouldn’t it be good if you could just try it without risking too much money? Well, you can. With an MVP, you don’t invest huge sums and you can always improve your idea or leave it if it doesn’t prove successful.
4. Initial Income
Some business models allow you to earn money on an application from the very beginning, even though it is still an MVP. Wouldn’t it be great to create an app that you can make money on and improve it later, when you raise the funds?
How Much Does an MVP Cost?
So, we come to the most interesting question: how much does an MVP cost?
You have probably seen the Next Web post showing how much the bare-bone MVP for the world’s hottest online and mobile companies cost and how much time it took, but just to remind you:
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
Terrified? Don’t be! Fortunately, you don’t always have to have $100,000 or $200,000 to create the first version of your mobile application.
At Ready4S, we believe that a simple mobile app MVP cost can start with around $20,000 and takes around 2 months. This price includes the workshop stage, which always takes around two weeks and consists of business analysis, strategy planning, and wireframes, and the development process, which takes another eight weeks and covers both design and programming.
Of course, it always depends on the time needed to develop it – you can see the most important factors below.
What Does the Price Depend On?
Just like with the regular app development process leading to a final product, the price of an MVP depends on the number of hours spent developing it and the price per development hour. These, however, depend on several factors, shown below.
MVPs are as different as apps in general. Some ideas are very complex and so will be their MVP, and some are quite simple. The most time-consuming and pricey elements of an application include
Third-party API integrations,
Billing and payment integrations,
Database encryption, and
An advanced admin panel with powerful analytics.
MVP Launch Stage
At which stage will you take your application to the market? Do you need just one or two functionalities to show users your idea? Or should it be more complex, because otherwise, users won’t get the whole concept? Will it be 30% or 80% of the final app? If you are not sure, ask your developer which functionalities should be the core, and which can be skipped in the MVP phase.
Software House or Freelancer
It's true – freelancers are generally cheaper. But there are not many people in the world who can design an app’s architecture, create its UX and UI, and code the app – these are just too many different skills for one person to master. Also, freelancers cannot always be trusted, as they do multiple projects at the same time, and in case they let you down, it is almost impossible to make them take responsibility. With a software house, you have a whole team and a project manager to take care of your project. They also have a certain reputation to keep, so they just cannot afford to let you down.
Part of the World
Outsourcing overseas can be a good idea if you want more competitive software development prices than in the United States. Central and Eastern Europe in particular can be good outsourcing destinations if you want to save some money but keep the high quality.
How to Start Off With an MVP?
OK, so you want to develop an MVP first. But where to begin? Follow the checklist below and you won’t be lost.
1. Formulate a Hypothesis for Testing
Will people like the idea of sharing videos that disappear within 24 hours? Can common people give you a ride instead of taxi drivers? Is a service where you share only 140-character messages a good idea? Recognize these apps? Check your hypothesis based on this scheme.
2. Choose the Functionalities
What functions should your app have? Write all of them down. Then, rate them and list them in terms of importance to the main goal of your app. Choose the ones which are really crucial to the main idea of your app.
3. Develop an MVP
As mentioned above, it can take from 2 to 4 months if you hire a strong development team.
4. Launch and Release Your Mobile App
That’s the big day of your application. Put it in app stores, advertise it, and check how users react to your idea.
5. Test Your Assumptions
When you have released the app, record users’ feedback. Focus on discovering the key product strengths and bottlenecks. Then, process the obtained data, turn it into a new list of hypotheses and product features, and implement the changes in your app idea.
Published at DZone with permission of Katarzyna Lorenc, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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