Your App Idea Needs An MVP!

The Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs don’t always know best when it comes to building an app. You have a problem you’d like to solve, and you know how you’d like to solve it, but there are so many other perspectives to consider.

Just because you would use an app a certain way doesn’t mean that your end-users agree with you.

The other issue we see a lot is that entrepreneurs will seek advice from those who are close to them. When you ask your family or friends if your app idea is good, they’re most likely going to tell you that it is.

Our Confirmation Bias seeks out information that aligns with our beliefs and ignores information that doesn’t, so even if a bunch of truthful friends tell you “I don’t think people are going to pay for that”, it’s much easier for you to accept someone else who says, “I’d pay for that” and then just disregard the other opinions as not your target audience.

When people are giving you feedback on your app idea, consider the following:

  • What are their confirmation biases?
  • Are they usually very supportive of you?
  • Will they be using the product themselves?
  • Would they purchase the product if it was made by someone they didn’t know?

The Developer

No, the developer doesn’t know best, either!

Sure, we have experience building apps, and we’re familiar with the processes needed to take a great idea and turn it into an app, but we might not know your industry, we might not know your target audience, and we also have confirmation biases of our own.

The End Users

Here it is. The people who have the answer to what your app needs to do—the people paying for it. 

DISCLAIMER: I don’t mean that you have to build everything your users ask for, as many of your users will have their “preferences” that aren’t related to the real solution.

You’ll hear something like, “I like your wellness app, but I find the color green helps me relax better” – Useless preference in most cases, unless of course you find out that people aren’t buying your app because the blood red background makes them feel anxious.

Your users are the people experiencing the problem you’re trying to solve. If you aren’t solving their problem, or if their problem isn’t really a problem, they aren’t going to pay you.

So, what do we do about this? Concept time.

Feedback Loop – In app development, a feedback loop is a loop where you can continue to get feedback from your end users about what they like, need, don’t like, don’t need, etc. as you continue to iterate on your app.

Iteration – This is the process where you take feedback and work it into the next update or release.

Pivot – Pivoting is when you realize that you’ve been on the wrong path and you quickly change the direction you’re going.

When is the right time to explore these concepts?.

ASAP.

Do things right from the start. You may run into trouble; you may even realize that your idea is doomed to fail. Excellent—you just saved thousands of dollars and hours and now you can pivot to a new project because you haven’t burned through all of your resources.

Enter the Minimum Viable Product

Here we are at the MVP. The purpose of this is releasing the smallest, quickest, and cheapest solution and then having people use and abuse it, all while giving you precious feedback.

There’s a distinction between Minimum Product and Minimum Viable Product. If you remove the basic features needed to actually solve a problem and provide value, people aren’t going to pay you.

A minimum product of Facebook might look like a place where you just upload a picture of yourself. While this is definitely a base function, you can’t do anything useful with it without having the friends features or the search features, etc.

When I started learning about MVPs, I found this video incredibly helpful. It breaks down a famous picture and explains it in non-technical terms:

Super Hint – In many cases, you can actually start making money from your MVP so people begin to pay for the completion of your project.

Applying the Concepts

You’ve released your MVP and your customers have started using it. This likely means the feedback and requests have started pouring in. Pay close attention to:

  • Which features are being requested the most? 
  • Which missing functionality is stopping people from purchasing?

Take the valuable feedback, work it into the next iteration, and then repeat this process to continue refining your concept. Chances are, it will end up evolving differently than you first thought it would.

So then when do I Pivot?

If you’re listening closely enough to your users (or the crickets if you can’t attract any users), you’ll get a sense of whether or not you’re actually solving a real problem. WATCH YOUR CONFIRMATION BIAS EXTRA CLOSELY HERE!

Our first reaction to the idea of “killing our project” is often something defensive like, “These people don’t know what they’re talking about. My real target audience is different.”

Is it really, or are you just avoiding the truth?

Let’s Wrap Up

  • You don’t know what your customers need or how they need it.
  • I don’t know what your customers need or how they need it.
  • Some of your customers don’t know what they need and how they need it.
  • A collection of your end-users will show trends of what they need and how they need it.

Build an MVP that solves a problem—the simpler the better.

Iterate based on the feedback you get from your users.

Pivot when your ship starts sinking, or even better, when you realize your ship is made out of cardboard and won’t make it across the ocean in the first place.

LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR! 

That’s all for today!

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