MVP Development for Startups: Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

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Bringing a new product to the market comes with many risks and challenges. You have to develop a brand-new idea, build the product and invest in marketing to get it to the market — especially in light of today’s evolving and highly competitive market and growing user demands.

That’s where a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes in handy. MVP development for startups is the proven way to help entrepreneurs validate business ideas with minimal investment, a limited feature set, and reduced time to market. However, what really makes startup MVP development successful is starting small with a series of well-planned iterations led by a qualified development team.

In this article, Northell’s experienced MVP development team will help you understand what it takes to build an MVP, what the benefits are, and what potential setbacks you might encounter.

Read Also: How To Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? [Startup Case Studies]


What is MVP development for startups?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with basic functionality, released primarily to test demand for it with minimal investment. An idea behind an MVP is to get a target audience’s feedback before releasing a full-fledged product. The main goal of an MVP is to provide value to customers by solving their problems in a way that makes them want to buy your product.

An MVP development for startups is a well-planned and streamlined MVP development process aiming to help startups to develop a worthy early version of the product. With the MVP approach, companies can minimize risks and avoid wasting significant investment to understand whether the product catches users’ attention. Thus, startup MVP development is needed to build basic features that give users essential capabilities.

minimum viable product

At Northell, the MVP development process works as follows: we identify the market need and perform needed research to develop a business plan, identify basic features, and start prototyping. We create a simple UI/UX design, test the product, collect feedback, and create enhanced UX and advanced functions only if the idea is worthy and the company launches the product.

Find out more about our service offering: MVP development services


The MVP types for startups

There are different approaches when it comes to building an MVP for startups. Thus, you should know the main types of MVPs to help you effectively create an MVP that caters to your business needs and goals: high fidelity and low fidelity.

High-Fidelity MVP

A high-fidelity Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a more polished and feature-rich version of the product that closely resembles the final vision of the startup. It involves substantial development efforts and resources to create an almost complete product, with all the core functionalities and a user interface that provides a realistic experience. The main advantage of a high-fidelity MVP is that it allows startups to test a more refined version of their product in the market.

By presenting users with a near-final product, the startup can gather comprehensive feedback on various aspects, including design, usability, and overall user experience. However, the downside is that developing a high-fidelity MVP can be time-consuming and expensive, which might not align well with the lean and agile nature of startups in their early stages. Despite this, high-fidelity MVPs can be beneficial for startups that have a clear vision and need to demonstrate a fully functional product to potential investors or stakeholders.

MVP types for startups

Read Also: Startup Product Development: A Complete Guide to a New Idea


Low-fidelity MVP

In contrast to the high-fidelity MVP, a low-fidelity Minimum Viable Product is a more basic and simplified version of the startup’s product idea. It is developed quickly and requires minimal resources. Low-fidelity MVPs often lack the full set of features and might have a rudimentary user interface.

The primary purpose of a low-fidelity MVP is to test the core concept and assumptions of the startup’s idea with real users while minimizing development costs and time. By releasing a bare-bones version of the product, startups can gauge the market’s interest and gather essential feedback to validate their business concept. This iterative feedback-driven approach allows startups to make necessary adjustments and improvements before investing more significant resources into a higher fidelity version.

The advantage of a low-fidelity MVP lies in its rapid development and cost-effectiveness, making it an ideal choice for startups aiming to test the market quickly and avoid the risk of building a fully-featured product that might not meet customer expectations.

Read Also: Outsourcing Software Development For Startups: The Complete Guide


Why is building an MVP for startups a must?

Startups often have limited resources, and building a full-fledged product from the beginning can be expensive. Data from Statista indicates that 29% of startups fail because they run out of cash. An MVP allows startups to launch quickly with minimal features and validate the core idea without substantial upfront investment.

Launching an MVP enables startups to get their product to market faster. A study by McKinsey found that speed is a critical factor in startup success, and the ability to launch quickly gives startups a competitive advantage.

As an entrepreneur who decides to take on a new business venture, it is imperative to consider the factors that will benefit your product and business itself in both the short term and the long term.

building an MVP for startups

Save money and effort

It is a common scenario for startups when they have limited financial resources before embarking on a business adventure. That’s why many budding startups and SMBs prefer to use the MVP approach to save money and effort and avoid risks. By providing only basic features in your product, you automatically cut the development costs and effort to understand whether there’s interest in your product.

Test business ideas faster

MVP development for startups aims at quick validation of business hypotheses. Since MVPs don’t require building complex functionality and sophisticated UI/UX design, developing such a product requires less time than creating a full-fledged product. The time spent on startup MVP development ensures you come out with a better quality product. Plus, having the capability to test your business idea faster places your business ahead of competitors.

At Northell, it takes 3-4 months to build MVP for startups and start attracting early adopters and users.

Gather early feedback

The faster you bring your MVP product to market, the sooner you can reach your potential customers and gather valuable feedback. Such an opportunity gives you more time to improve or even pivot once you acquire sufficient information on your customer’s demands. That is a great advantage for businesses to pave the way for a consumer-centric product with an exceptional customer experience and customization.

Prioritize the list of core and nice-to-have features

Given the MVP focuses on building the most basic functionality for targeted customers, it allows you to prevent the development of redundant features before it reaches the market. This approach helps you to prioritize the list of core and nice-to-have features and invest more time in building features users expect and need.

Increase brand awareness

The goal of building MVP for startups goes beyond the need for a quick and risk-free technical implementation. This approach also allows you to attract early interest to your brand and establish an online presence. As a result, you will earn customer trust and increase your brand value early on.

Define your target audience

Implementing MVPs gives you a better understanding of your consumer market. As a result, you can better understand the customer’s needs and target the right audience. You can use the information gathered from customer analysis to create the most effective communication strategies to attract your customers.

Attract potential investors

Investors are careful about the startups they invest in. However, creating an MVP looks more compelling for investors to step into your business. An MVP is a great way to pitch your idea to potential investors and catch their interest. You can demonstrate how you’re going to turn your MVP into a full-fledged product and explain why your idea is viable.

Get your first return on investment (ROI)

Startup MVP development is an alternative way for businesses to generate profits in the early stages of product development. If your initial idea hits the market, you can quickly start earning your first return on investment.

Read Also: Top 10 Minimum Viable Product Examples in Digital Business (+Tips & Tricks)


A 9-step guide to startup MVP development

Below, let’s figure out the steps you need to take throughout startup MVP development to ensure MVP’s success.

9-step guide to startup MVP development

Step 1. Conduct market research and identify your target audience

A minimum viable product is the foundation of your final full-fledged product. Simply having an idea is not enough to turn it into a product or service your users will value. That’s why it’s essential to conduct detailed market research and do a lot of work to ensure a high-quality MVP.

At Northell, we perform in-depth market and competitor research to collect information about similar products on the market. We analyze major market players in your niche to understand whether your business will sustain on the market (for example, by completing a SWOT analysis or creating a Lean Canvas business model). We use these insights to identify the current market needs and requirements for the product category you will offer.

Our specialists also thoroughly analyze your target audience factors (e.g., age, gender, lifestyle, place of residence, occupation) to portray and study your potential customer. We use this information to create an exceptional user experience and offer features that will be most attractive to customers. During market research, we can also understand how your product will solve the user’s pain points and identify key characteristics (unique value proposition) that will make your product competitive.

For example, for one of our NDA cases, we needed to perform thorough market research to build an investment platform. Our customer reached our team with a basic idea and a preliminary version of the final product. So, we did detailed market research to think through the logic and placement of content for the user flow and outline ways to make the platform easy to use and navigate.

Step 2. Hire a dedicated MVP development team

Once you know how your target audience looks and the type of product you need – it’s time to assemble a qualified MVP development team. The competence and experience of a professional team will help you get the most out of technology and creativity to create a successful MVP. Skilled MVP professionals will help you explore your product idea, plan your MVP roadmap, develop an MVP, integrate user feedback, and launch it successfully in less time.

Northell brings together top talents to provide startups and SMBs direct access to various technical skills crucial for different MVP development stages. We have all the required specialists on board, available for hire on a part-time and full-time basis: middle and senior UI/UX designers, user flow designers, web and mobile app developers, QA engineers, Business Analysts, Project Managers, and CTOs.

Whether you need to address talent gaps in your in-house team or hire a dedicated development team to work on your MVP from scratch – choose the best-fit offering from Northell!

Explore our cooperation models:

Dedicated Development Team

IT Staff Augmentation Services  


Step 3. Validate your idea

Before moving to the MVP development stages, you should test the waters to understand whether it’s possible to implement your idea or set of features in real life. We suggest creating a proof of concept (POC) to find out. A proof of concept is a test that helps you understand if your idea is feasible and if the product can be developed from a technical standpoint.

However, creating a proof of concept is necessary only if you have a first-of-its-kind idea that you’re not sure will work as you expect.

By connecting with the Northell team, we first check that no one has ever done a similar type of product before. If it turns out to be unique, we not only examine the product hypothesis thoroughly but ensure proof of concept relating to your product idea.

Step 4. Create product strategy and roadmap

Prior to planning the development process, you should finalize the software product strategy and create a general overview of your business (e.g., create a Lean Canvas business model). Having a sound product strategy at hand will allow you to move product development forward in the right direction. So, your strategy should outline the definition of a unique value proposition, monetization plan, channels to reach your customers, and how your business will operate in general.

Next, the product strategy transforms into a product roadmap detailing all critical project milestones, business and product goals, key metrics, direct competitors, your advantages, the customer segments you are targeting, etc., in each section of a Lean Canvas model. This tool helps us better understand the needs of startups and map out a feasible way from MVP to a fully-fledged product.

With Northell, you will receive helpful guidance from our MVP experts on producing a workable business plan. After all ideation iterations are done, we ensure all the project details, features, and design aspects are present within the plan.

Step 5. Define the user flows

For each user persona identified during the product discovery, we create the flow of steps for users required to reach your product’s primary goal (e.g., like in our NDA case – invest funds into a company). The primary rule here is to break the user flow into obvious-to-users process stages while focusing on the product’s primary goals. So, all we need to do is to explain the steps users need to reach this goal.

At Northell, we define clear and logical steps for each user flow to provide clear access to all necessary functions and ensure smooth navigation. During user flow creation, we focus on basic tasks (like in our NDA case, “find investment offers,” “invest,” “track investments progress,” and “receive a return on investment”) rather than on particular features. Having a user flow map, we can understand what features and functionality are missing from the initial drafts.

Step 6. Prioritize the features for your MVP

At Northell, once all the user flow stages are identified, we create a list of MVP features for each stage and prioritize them.

During this process, we highlight all the features we think are nice to have but not strictly necessary. We categorize these features based on priority (high, medium, and low priority) and arrange them in a product backlog using the Story Mapping technique. We build a horizontal row showing the main process stages of our user flow, and below each stage, we list the necessary features.

That works as a guide for our team to understand what features to roll out first and what are nice to implement after the first feedback is received.

Read Also: Top Rated MVP Development Companies For Your Startup [Update 2023]


Step 7. Start prototyping

Once we are sure about the feasibility and viability of your idea, we move to create the wireframes and prototypes of your product. Creating prototypes is a visual way to understand how your product will look and operate, prioritize features and capture insights on making a smooth user experience. The first feedback that we collect during the prototyping stage we use to improve the product’s functional and non-functional parts, consider new features or plan for integrations.

At Northell, we assign 2-4 qualified UI/UX designers with relevant experience in projects of a similar type. We create our customer’s first UX and UI prototypes in Figma, InVision, or Moqups.

UX and UI prototypes in Figma

For example, for one of our recent projects, we worked on building an expert advice-sharing platform where we first created a prototype to understand what must-have functionality to include, how exactly it should work, and what we need to exclude or rework.

Step 8. Develop your MVP

During MVP development for startups, we focus on creating the most necessary feature for your end users. An MVP is not a final product; however, we need this step to test your business idea, get early feedback, and quickly improve your product to take it to the next stages. In parallel, our team follows the Agile approach and keeps our customers updated on the project’s progress and updates by conducting regular meetings and demo sessions.

During the MVP development, we also choose a solid tech stack and MVP architecture that will allow us to develop and scale our product further quickly.

For startup MVP development, we prioritize using the following technologies, tools, and architecture, as shown in the table below:

MVP development

Step 9. Build, measure, and learn

During this phase, we are constantly building your product, measuring its performance and relevance with metrics, and learning from product reviews to improve it. To ensure the quality of your MVP, we recommend sticking to the Lean approach.

Recommended reading: How to Build a Software Development Team in 2023? 

A lean approach is a model that consists of three recurring steps: build, measure, and learn. Using this approach, we first create a first version of your product, measure its performance and collect first feedback. The feedback received works as a hint to identify technical issues, UX inconstancies, gaps in product behavior, etc. Based on the information gathered, we decide how to improve the product, make necessary changes and iterate this process until the product works as planned.

By considering the mistakes spotted by early adopters, today’s customer needs, and the latest technological advancements, we increase your chances for MVP success and provide a decent solution to your consumers’ problems.

Learn more about our experience in MVP development for startups!

Read also: How To Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? [Startup Case Studies]


What KPI to measure after building an MVP for startups?

Launching your MVP is not the endpoint of product development. It’s essential to keep track of the product’s performance to ensure the success of your MVP. One of the proven ways to measure the MVP’s success is to use numerous quantitative metrics and KPIs. Applying them, you can measure how your MVP is performing.

  • A number of downloads and subscriptions. In this way, businesses can understand the level of interest in their products and whether they solve a user problem correctly.
  • Percentage of active users. By measuring the number of active users, you can get a deeper insight into the relevance and effectiveness of your product among the target audience.
  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). This indicator shows the profitability of your product.
  • Percentage of paying users. The logic behind using this KPI is simple: the more paying users you have, the more likely they will continue choosing your product.
  • In-store positioning. Building an MVP for offline or online marketplaces, knowing where your product is located will help you understand if it’s popular and accessible.
  • Churn rate. This KPI shows how many users have stopped using your product.
  • User ratings. Ratings help you understand the average performance score of your product compared to similar products on the market.

KPI to measure after building an MVP for startups

Why does MVP development for startups fail?

There are many reasons startups may fail to experience the benefits of building MVPs. CB Insights reported the main reasons startups fail based on the analysis of 101 startups. Along with the data in this report, we add insights from our experience of why startups fail and give you an idea of ​​what challenges you might face along the way.

Poor market research

MVP development for startups may lead to complete failures if you skip the discovery and market research stages. A lack of statistics and poor market research can encourage you to create a misleading product concept and implement redundant features that your end customers will refuse to use.

Solution: Conduct in-depth market research to create a feasible and viable business idea, create a unique value proposition, and outline clear development milestones to ensure the process is optimized for time and cost.

Lack of qualified experts

It is a common scenario for startups when they need more competencies in a team to take care of the technical implementation of the product. That contributes to budget constraints and lengthy searches for experienced MVP development specialists.

Solution: You can hire a reputable agency with solid development experience that provides professional MVP development services for startups. Find out how to make the hiring process fast and correct in our blog post: How to Hire Software Developers for a Startup: a Step-by-Step 2023 Guide

Zero market demand

Your new product should strictly address an existing problem of users and offer a solution to customers who face this challenge regularly. Otherwise, your startup will fail since there is no market need.

Solution: Launch a product that provides relevant solutions to address the existing problems of users. You can do it by regularly testing your MVP and learning from the feedback received.

Inadequate product development workflow

Budget constraints and limited time frames often incentivize startups to neglect essential MVP development stages—for example, market research or thorough testing cycles. As a result, the company faces numerous overheads, the inability to launch an MVP, and a loss of profits.

Solution: Create a clear MVP development workflow with a feasible strategy and prioritize critical steps to move your product development in the right direction. This step is paramount to ensure the success of your product on the market in the long run.

Wrong tech stack

A lack of experienced and competent MVP developers can lead to choosing the wrong technology stack. This results in low-quality MVPs, higher costs, and technical gaps.

Solution: Ensure you have experienced tech experts in your team to suggest the most optimal tech stack according to your product and business needs. Choosing the right tech stack should allow you to develop further and scale your product quickly.


How much does startup MVP development cost?

On average, the MVP development may cost around 10% – 50% of the final product, from $20,000 to $50,000.

Although building MVPs for startups is a cost-effective way to get your product ready to market, there are still certain factors you should also consider during the planning stage to avoid budget overruns. For example,

  • Product type (web, mobile, hybrid, cross-platform)
  • Feature set
  • Architecture complexity
  • Design complexity
  • Performance, security, and scalability requirements
  • Third-party integrations
  • Team structure and location (e.g., rates in Eastern Europe are commonly lower compared with Western companies and US developers)
  • Development approach (in-house (the total cost of the project can be between $160,000 and $180,000) or outsourcing ($20,000 to $50,000))
  • Engagement model (team augmentation, full-time dedicated team)

In any case, we have solid experience creating numerous MVPs under the most favorable terms for our customers.

The best way to estimate your MVP project accurately is to consult with us!

We will offer the most appropriate pricing model for your needs, requirements, and resources.

Why choose Northell’s MVP development services for startups?

Building MVP for startups is an iterative process that requires continuous polishing. However, this process must be completed quickly and within budget to ensure the absolute success of the startup. That’s exactly what you need a reputable development agency for.

MVP development services for startups

top benefites

Flexible and easy-to-scale team

Northell offers reliable MVP development services for startups to develop projects from top to bottom. We have a large talent pool to create a development team for your project needs and available capabilities. We are flexible in terms of cooperation, so you can scale a team up and down when the workload or main priorities change.

Business-oriented approach

We put business needs first when building MVPs for startups. We have a business-oriented mindset to meet the core business needs of our customers and participate in every stage of the whole product development cycle. Our team is committed to building long-term partnerships to help companies develop optimal MVP solutions with only key features and user-friendly screens and sell them to end customers.

Low-risk development

We follow a time-optimized approach to ensure low-risk startup MVP development. Thus, we put maximum attention to an in-depth market research and planning stage to avoid losses later. We also engage QA engineers early to mitigate risks and eliminate product deficiencies once they are spotted.

Multi-domain expertise

We have rich experience working with startups hand in hand to build and grow their businesses from scratch across various industries such as FinTech, EdTech, Real Estate, and Healthcare. Northell provides professionals who have already made a successful reputation in the targeted market, sharing valuable knowledge about startup development and helping clients from business idea validation to launching a full-fledged product to market.

Streamlined management

We assign a reliable project manager for each project to keep all project stakeholders on the same page and ensure transparent communication between all participants. Our well-established management process helps us eliminate project bottlenecks, avoid misunderstandings and delays, reduce risks, and achieve tangible results early on.

Looking for an MVP software development agency? Gain valuable insights from our article on Top Rated MVP Development Companies For Your Startup [Update 2023]

MVP development for startups: Summary

For a startup to skyrocket in the market, it needs to create an MVP. Well-known companies such as Uber, Dropbox, and Zappos that started out as MVPs are proven examples that you must first take care of your customers and ensure that the product is in high demand among a broad audience before you start technical polishing.

An MVP development for startups allows you to launch your product with minimal investment and time, insure against losses and confirm the viability of your product idea.

However, building MVPs for startups can be challenging. So, if you have an idea for a technology startup but need help in crafting optimal MVP, contact Northell.

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