Want to build the best mobile app for your business? It’s all about your MVP!
Believe it or not, I haven’t always considered myself to be a boss level tech head. Truth be told, I still don’t. I like to think of myself as a “non-technical founder”. You see – I didn’t follow the traditional path of my contemporaries. I didn’t study computer science at university or learn to code growing up. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Learning on the job has been instrumental in my career progression and really is the reason I’ve got to where I am today. My career path to becoming CEO of two leading tech companies came from domain expertise in the industries in which I was trying to solve problems for, and the rest; I’ve had to learn along the way.
The first time I heard the term ‘MVP’ was in a meeting back in 2011. I’d just finished building an ‘app’ for my first business WINK models. I remember thinking, “I’ve represented ex-athletes as an agent. I’m all over this lingo.”
I was way off, I quickly learned that MVP in the tech world doesn’t mean “Most Valuable Player” it means “Minimum Viable Product”. An MVP is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. It’s basically the absolute bare bones of a product (website, app, etc) that you can build to test and see if it works before you go adding all the fancy features, bells and whistles.
My advice is to bank these three words in your mind vault because you’ll encounter them on a daily basis. I wish I had this prior knowledge. I wish I knew the value of an MVP before building a tech product for the very first time. Learn from my mistakes.
People often ask me – what was the process like building your first app?
I tell them exactly the same thing: painful, expensive and fraught with problems. In fact, the project blew out by about nine months, and ended up being about ten times over budget. Admittedly, some of that was because I used the wrong development agency, and didn’t know what a “product manager” was. But, for the most part, it was because I literally had no idea about the concept of an MVP let alone its value.
Why is an MVP such a vital business tool?
Essentially, a good MVP can provide feedback for future product development. It allows you to test drive your product on early customers, which is invaluable info for you going forward. Only then – when you know that it actually works – can you add all the bells and whistles.
This is not what I did with the WINK App. I literally built everything: calendars, scheduling, photo uploads (edits and comp card creation), superannuation payments, bank payments, email reminders, SMS alerts, multi-day, multi-shift campaigns with different pay rates, you name it. In essence it cost much more than it should have and was a huge risk to implement and if I had my time again, I would have done everything differently.
Why now I am all about the MVP
With the launch of theright.fit app and my new business – #gifted – we’ve been completely brutal about what makes the cut in the MVP. I know the value of an incredible product manager. One who is able to evaluate features (and their worth). One who can look at the worth of star in-house developers, who are aligned on the vision to make a great product at the right price.
Your MVP should be a bit cringe worthy. There might be parts that are still manual, or sections that are “coming soon”, despite your burning desire as a founder to have it all there on launch. However, learn anything from my mistakes. You’ll have a much better idea of what should – come soon – if you take the MVP approach.
The Minimum Viable Product really is the most valuable player in the development process. It deserves the fancy trophies, the bling ring and adoring fans. It’ll make your product better, make your customers happier and, most importantly, save you time and money.