Product Development (MVP) made simple!
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Product Development (MVP) made simple!

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🚛 Let's simplify the product development process.

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Goal: Build a "Minimum Lovable Product". Not just a "Minimum viable product" Typical ideology: Build Lean. Ship quick. Learn fast. Build better.

"Typical product development lifecycle" - what the world has taught us:

Remember the "Waterfall Model" from the good old days?

Since then product development lifecycle has evolved so much with the introduction of Agile and Design Thinking methodologies putting the user and their pain points first.

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But let's be honest, we as first-time founders bootstrapping our business, do not have enough money, time and resources to go in the way of what is called "Enterprise-level" to build and launch our product.

We’re not going to lie - building a great product requires a balance of good ideas, hustle, a realistic approach paired with visionary thinking, a great team, and a little bit of luck.

Here is the LEAN version of the MVP Development process that addresses customers' problems and generates immediate value. You can also generate revenue for the alpha version to add all the bells and whistles (features) further down in your development process and offer a more mature and sophisticated solution to the identified problem.

Let's approach in a phased manner.

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Phase-1: Learn

Phase-2: Build

Phase-3: Launch

Phase-4: Learn to Iterate

The LEAN MVP Building process

Remember the goal again is to build a "Minimum Lovable Product"

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*** Tools and resources to assist you to "get there" ***

Phase-1: Learn - WTF are we Building!

1. Know your customers and their problems

Start by scheduling interviews with your target customers. Ask them four fundamental questions:

1. What do they want?

2. What are their problems?

3. What are they currently doing to solve those problems?

4. How do they imagine their life improving with a better solution?

2. Prioritise problems and map out different solutions

Set up principles driven by the identified problems. These principles will enable you to stay focused on your solution and not be dragged by the fancy stuff around.

Prioritise your features using the RICE framework. Feature prioritization is a crucial component as well as shedding light on what features your product team will prioritize in the MVP. Basically, the minimum viable product is what your early adopters will get and test.

3. Define your MVP and set a milestone

Minimum viable product refers to the basic core features that create immediate value for your user with minimal costs on your end.

Also, get the Business Model and pricing strategy done. This is put you in a great position before your start building. Determine your budget and don't forget to take the time considered to build into consideration. You as a founder are responsible for the financial health of your business. remember most products take between 6 - 24 weeks to build depending upon the complexity and the problem you are solving.

Phase-2: Build - Let's lay the foundation for a great business!

4. Gather your team and understand their skillsets

Communicate your vision of solving this great problem or a job to be done by building your amazing startup.

Old but Gold:

Work on;

  • Role expectations - clearly define roles and responsibilities
  • Psychological safety - your team and you can achieve more
  • Health check - check-in daily with your team and be their "big brother" or "supportive sister" not their boss

5. Brainstorm solutions with your team and finalise your build

Get all the documents and processes right;

  • Prototyping
  • Usability testing
  • Product requirements documents
  • Roadmap for next 12-18 months

6. Onboarding Flows

Our friends at onboarding.study put together amazing resources to understand, analyse and implement how 200+ SaaS companies use onboarding to have better adoption and retention rates. Learn more 👇

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And more on in-app onboarding tactics;

7. Get pilot partners / paying customers organised

Reach out to the people you interviewed during your customer and problem discovery. Ask them to try out your solution and set up your feedback loop.

Phase-3: Launch - It's the next level!

8. Define your delivery plan and success criteria

Three core qualifications for any product:

  • The first value (measured through activation)
  • Consistent value (measured through usage retention)
  • Commercial value (measured through revenue)

Delivery Plan:

9. Organise your workflow and go-to-market strategy

Since building products requires a lot of flexibility, fine-tuning and constant communication, it is incredibly important to find the right tools that will keep your workflow on the same page at all times.

Product Launch Checklist:

We recommend you have product planning software in place to track literally every step of your product and company building.

Process for Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy:

10. Launch!

The moment! Look back at what you and your team have achieved. Build relationships with your first customers aka Early Adopters.

Building and launching, the indie way

Build

Benchmark existing products and solutions and evaluate them to your identified niche
Follow discussions in startup/founder Communities
Build your landing page to collect interest
Use it at least for one month to generate interest and validate
Build JUST one feature and have a public roadmap
Invite “focused” users to beta test your product and build a continuous “user-feedback” loop
Keep sharing product updates with your user community to get feedback
Improve according to the feedback

Pre-Launch

Pre-launch to validate “customer” interest Note: Beta users do not translate to paid customers in most cases until you solve their problem and deliver 100X value
Launch on startup/founders communities and increase your visibility by promoting on marketplaces/startup directories Note: If SaaS/Micro SaaS, do not launch until your reach 1K MRR
Create Copywriting
Create a pre-order waiting list (Optional)
Promotional Pricing
$
Regular Pricing
$
Highly Recommended: Run a lifetime deal for 1-3 months to cover future development and customer acquisition costs

Launch

Launch on Gumroad
Launch on Product Hunt

Note: Not recommended if you are building in stealth

Promote

Post on Facebook Groups
Post on your Twitter profile
Quote tweet to Twitter Communities
Promote by replying to and supporting influencers’ tweets and other founders
Post on Linkedin
Post on Discord
Publish in Reddit forums

This should give you a basic idea to get some traction. Obviously, have your magic touch!

Phase-4: Learn to Iterate - We are all eyes and ears!

11. Post-Launch Metrics Evaluation

Back to the board to learn what went well and where can your product improve. get all your post-launch analytics and key metrics organised.

Post Launch Analytics:

We as founders are always in iterative mode.

Build - Measure - Learn feedback Loop

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3 common mistakes most founders fo when building their MVPs

1. Building an MVP without understanding your startup's Unique Value Proposition.

If the app you are building is 'another Uber' with no clear point of difference, it's going to be virtually impossible to convince the market to ditch Uber to use your app.  Your UVP (unique value proposition) is the problem you are trying to solve. Your MVP is your proof that you can solve it. Your UVP will be your key marketing message to attract users to your app.

2. Spending too much time and money on building your MVP

Keep version 1.0 of your product simple. A mistake we see all the time is founders spending too much time, effort and money building lots of bells and whistles on their MVP. If the feature/ functionality is not a core part of your UVP it may be a good idea to cut it from your base model design. You should iterate your product based on customer feedback and data and not your own assumptions/bias.

3. Custom building everything

There is a lot of awesome third-party software out there ready to be leveraged by our founders. Don’t spend excess time, effort and money building your own payment gateways, calendar bookings and database management systems. Integrate your MVP with Stripe, Calendly, Airtable or whatever third-party software you can use to make your MVP a reality. You will save a lot of development time and money and will also provide your users with a more stable, bug-free experience.

Happy Founding!