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By Lance Cohen

5 Steps to Kickstart your MVP

At a recent Agile Sydney meetup, reinteractive’s Founder Mikel Lindsaar presented on “Bringing Agile to Enterprise”.

One of the points he highlighted was that one of the biggest focuses of modern Agile software development is “working software”.

But before deciding on what software you are going to build for “Version 1” and the extensive engineering time and capital required to fund this process, it's important to de-risk the project, by validating the business case for the concept.

The idea of "validated learning” inherits from Eric Reas’s Lean Startup movement, which is now being applied not only to startups, but also corporate innovation.

A key component of the Lean Methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop, which begins with figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to prove or disprove an educated guess on whether the concept is going to fly with your target customers or not.

At reinteractive we are often asked about what it will cost to build out a given online tool to do XYZ. Of course cost is always relative to scope and complexity of the features of the product. Often at the start of a new project it can be difficult to figure out what features to prioritise and include for the first version of the software, to ensure the business case is viable, separating the “have to haves” from the “like to haves”.

So how do you kickstart your MVP? Here are some ways that we suggest:

1. Talk to potential users and stakeholders

Doing surveys and interviews with your target users and stakeholders, is a really quick and simple way to determine the potential value proposition of your concept. This is actually the simplest and cheapest MVP. There is a lot of skill in asking the right questions of your target users and stakeholders so that that you gather the right data to indicate if your customers will buy or at least use your product.

2. Set up landing pages

Setting up a landing page is a great tool for doing things like A/B testing quickly, easily and without requiring any custom software development. You should do this to experiment with different features and marketing messages, using actual data to determine which features and marketing messages capture user or stakeholder attention so that they engage with your “product” - be it in terms of number of signups or feedback. The bigger your database of users or customers to test this on, the quicker and more effective this process will be. The other added benefit is that this creates a launch list for when you develop the product and need beta testers.

3. Create low-medium fidelity Wireframes

Wire-framing is the best way to get your ideas out of your head and into the real world, and for your users and stakeholders to get a very REAL sense of the product or solution you envision to solve your customers problems. Wireframing starts from the low fidelity pen and paper version, and based on feedback moving to higher levels of fidelity where the details of each individual feature are fleshed out.

Once the picture of the concept becomes clearer, you can progress towards a medium fidelity wireframe using software tools such as Balsamic or Axure. The beauty of even this type of wireframing is that all of the features and functionality of your application can be demonstrated to your potential users, and used to collect data on prioritising which features are important to them (especially those they would pay for) and which are less so. Using the data, you then iterate on multiple different versions of your concept within days, getting closer and closer to what should really go into your MVP.

4. Design the User Experience via clickable prototypes

Often target uses can only really fully appreciate your concept when they get to actually use and click through the application themselves. For this purpose, “clickable prototypes” are a fantastic tool for demonstrating functionality as well as simulating and iterating on the application's user experience for your customers. Often times, the user experience of the application - in terms of workflow, information architecture, app layout and interaction design can really make or break whether your customers can see themselves using your application or tool over a competitive solution, so this should ideally be done by a qualified user experience expert.

We created this clickable prototype for our client Try clicking around, you’ll get a great idea of the apps functionality and workflow just from the prototype.

5. Talk to a team of developers about the estimated development effort

With detailed wireframes and/or a clickable prototype in hand, as well some validated learning about your concept, you will be in a position to talk to the development team to break down the application page by page, feature by feature to estimate the software development effort and work out your budget required to get a return on your investment.

“That’s all great - how do I get it all done?”

Glad you asked :)

At reinteractive the above steps are all included in our MVP Kickstart Service working with our UX and design team. For a fixed cost, using real world data, we help our clients validate their ideas and prioritise features of their product before investing in the software development process. Clients can then use the clickable prototype to sign up customers, and raise funds from investors or the company board to fund the development. We even offer a discovery session to estimate the development effort of your app for free!

You can contact us via +61 2 8019 7252 or via email at to get your MVP Kickstart service started today.

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