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Building an MVP: A guide to building a minimum viable product

Discover the strategies and best practices for successfully creating an MVP that meets the needs of your target audience and validates your business idea.

December 31, 2023
Team Blitzllama

In product development, the struggle to create a successful product often begins with navigating the challenge of building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

Many product teams find themselves wrestling with the complexities of deciding what features to include and what to leave out. 

Empathizing with this common hurdle, our article provides a straightforward guide to help product teams construct a solid MVP. 

From identifying the core features to understanding user needs, we break down the process into manageable steps.

What does MVP mean?

An MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is crucial for product teams. It means creating a basic version with essential features to swiftly launch and gather user feedback. 

This iterative process helps refine and improve the product based on real user experiences. 

MVP prevents unnecessary investment in complex features, focusing on core functionalities to gauge market interest and validate assumptions. 

A quote on MVP

Michael Seibel, Managing Director of Y Combinator, emphasizes launching quickly and iterating based on feedback

Talking to users and being flexible with solutions is crucial, as the initial idea may evolve significantly. 

Successful companies like Airbnb, Twitch, and Stripe started with very basic MVPs, highlighting the effectiveness of this approach.

Now that we've defined what MVP means, let's delve into why it's a crucial concept for product teams looking to innovate and launch successful products.

Why build an MVP?

Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) offers numerous advantages for product teams. By focusing on core features, teams can quickly release a functional product, gather user feedback, and make data-driven decisions. 

Reasons to build an MVP

This iterative process not only saves time and resources but also increases the likelihood of creating a product that truly meets customer needs:

1) Reduce investment risk and development costs

Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) helps product teams minimize risks and costs. By focusing on essential features, teams can create a functional version of the product with fewer resources. 

This approach allows for testing the market without significant upfront investments. If the product concept doesn't resonate with users, the team can pivot or refine the idea without sinking extensive time and money into a fully developed product. 

MVP development acts as a strategic move to safeguard against potential losses and ensures efficient resource allocation.

2) Validate product-market fit and user needs

An MVP serves as a reality check for product-market fit and user needs. By releasing a simplified version to the target audience, teams can gauge how well the product aligns with market demands. 

User interactions and feedback during this phase provide valuable insights into whether the product addresses a genuine problem or meets user expectations. This validation is crucial for avoiding the common pitfall of assuming market demand without concrete evidence. 

Through real-world testing, product teams can refine their understanding of the market and make informed decisions for subsequent development phases.

3) Get early user feedback and iterate quickly

Launching an MVP enables product teams to gather early user feedback and iterate rapidly. By involving users at an early stage, teams can identify potential issues, usability concerns, and areas for improvement. 

The iterative process allows for quick adjustments based on user input, ensuring that the final product better aligns with user preferences. This agile approach fosters a user-centric development cycle, helping teams to address evolving needs and preferences swiftly. 

The continuous feedback loop ensures that the final product is not only functional but also resonates with the target audience.

4) Build learning and momentum for future development

Developing an MVP contributes to building a foundation of learning and momentum for future development. Through the iterative process and user feedback, teams accumulate valuable knowledge about market dynamics and user behaviors. 

This learning informs subsequent development phases, guiding the team in making informed decisions. Additionally, the successful launch of an MVP generates momentum and interest in the product. 

Positive user experiences and feedback create a buzz, attracting attention and potential users. This momentum can be leveraged to secure additional resources, partnerships, or funding for scaling and expanding the product.

Understanding the importance of building an MVP is essential. Now, let's explore the optimal timing for initiating the MVP development process.

When to build an MVP?

Choosing the right time to build an MVP is critical for success. Early-stage development allows teams to test concepts and gather user input, while later stages may benefit from a more polished product. Identifying the ideal moment in the product life cycle ensures maximum impact and efficiency:

When to build an MVP?

1) New product ideas with high uncertainty:

When venturing into uncharted territories with new product ideas, building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is strategic. 

High uncertainty surrounds untested concepts, and an MVP serves as a practical approach. It allows product teams to swiftly validate assumptions, gather valuable user feedback, and assess market acceptance.

By focusing on essential features, teams efficiently allocate resources and minimize risks associated with unproven ideas. Employing an MVP strategy in this context enables a methodical exploration of potential innovations, ensuring a grounded foundation for further development.

2) Complex products requiring user validation:

In cases where products are intricate and user validation is paramount, opting for an MVP proves beneficial. Complex products often involve intricate user interactions and varied requirements. 

By building a simplified version, teams can swiftly engage with users, obtaining firsthand insights into preferences and pain points. This iterative process helps refine the product, ensuring it aligns with user expectations. 

This user-centric approach minimizes the risk of developing extensive features that may not resonate with the target audience. The MVP acts as a pragmatic tool, allowing product teams to iteratively enhance the user experience based on real-world feedback.

3) Limited resources or budget constraints:

When faced with limited resources or budget constraints, initiating with an MVP becomes a prudent strategy. Developing a scaled-down version enables teams to enter the market swiftly, testing the waters without exhausting resources. 

This incremental approach conserves funds, directing efforts toward essential functionalities that validate the product concept. As financial constraints are common, an MVP allows product teams to demonstrate viability and attract additional resources. 

By prioritizing core features, teams maximize impact within constrained parameters, ensuring a cost-effective path to product development.

Now that we've established the significance of timing, let's move on to the practical aspects of building an MVP, step by step.

Building an MVP: Step-by-step

Creating a Minimum Viable Product involves a systematic approach. From defining the core features to incorporating user feedback, each step contributes to the overall success of the product. 

Building an MVP

This section outlines the essential steps that product teams should follow during the MVP development process:

Step 1: Idea validation

Market research:

Conduct thorough research to understand user needs and your competition. Look for gaps in the market where your product can provide value.

  • Explore online forums, social media, and customer reviews to gather insights into user pain points and desires.
  • Analyze competitors' products to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for differentiation.
  • Use surveys or interviews to directly ask potential users about their preferences and expectations.

Problem validation:

Ensure that your product addresses a genuine problem faced by users. Validate the existence of the problem and its significance.

  • Clearly define the problem your MVP aims to solve and validate it through user interviews or surveys.
  • Identify the pain points associated with the problem and assess their impact on users.
  • Seek quantifiable evidence of the problem's existence to strengthen your case for solving it.

Solution validation:

Confirm that your proposed solution resonates with users and effectively addresses the identified problem.

  • Develop a prototype or a minimal concept of your solution and share it with potential users for feedback.
  • Pay attention to user reactions and gather insights on whether your solution meets their expectations.
  • Iterate on the solution based on feedback, ensuring that it aligns with user preferences and needs.

Step 2: Define your MVP

Identify core functionalities:

Determine the essential features that directly address the core problem your MVP aims to solve.

  • Focus on functionalities that provide the most value to users and eliminate non-essential elements.
  • Prioritize features based on their impact on solving the core problem and meeting user expectations.
  • Keep the MVP scope minimal to expedite development and launch.

Prioritize features:

Prioritize features based on their value to users and feasibility of implementation.

  • Use techniques like the MoSCoW method to categorize features into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves.
  • Consider the technical complexity and resource requirements of each feature when prioritizing.
  • Ensure that the selected features align with the overall goals of the MVP.

Create user personas and user stories:

Develop detailed profiles of your target users and outline their interactions with your product.

  • Identify common traits, behaviors, and needs of your target audience to create accurate user personas.
  • Draft user stories that outline specific scenarios or use cases, detailing how users will interact with your MVP.
  • Use these personas and stories as a reference throughout the development process to maintain user-centricity.

Step 3: Developing the MVP

Agile development methods:

Adopt agile methodologies to facilitate rapid iteration and responsiveness to changing requirements.

  • Break down the development process into small, manageable sprints with specific goals.
  • Regularly reassess priorities based on feedback and make necessary adjustments to the development roadmap.
  • Foster collaboration between cross-functional teams for a streamlined development process.

Focus on simplicity and usability:

Emphasize simplicity in design and functionality to enhance user experience and minimize development complexity.

  • Avoid unnecessary features or complicated design elements that could confuse users.
  • Strive for an intuitive user interface that requires minimal guidance.
  • Conduct usability testing to identify and address any potential user experience issues.

Leverage existing tools and technologies:

Utilize existing tools and technologies to accelerate development and reduce costs.

  • Explore open-source solutions and third-party integrations to speed up development without compromising quality.
  • Leverage established frameworks and libraries that align with your project's requirements.
  • Regularly update and patch software components to maintain security and performance.

Step 4: Launching and measuring

Define success metrics:

Establish clear and measurable success metrics aligned with the goals of your MVP.

  • Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the impact of your MVP on user engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
  • Set realistic benchmarks for success based on industry standards and your specific objectives.
  • Ensure that success metrics align with the overall business strategy.

Launch through MVP-specific channels:

Introduce your MVP to the market through targeted channels, emphasizing its unique value proposition.

  • Create dedicated landing pages or microsites to generate interest and gather early sign-ups.
  • Initiate beta programs to gather real-world feedback from a controlled user group.
  • Leverage social media and email marketing to reach potential users and build anticipation.

Gather user feedback:

Actively collect user feedback through various channels to gain insights into the MVP's performance.

  • Conduct surveys to gather quantitative data on user satisfaction and preferences.
  • Schedule interviews with users to delve deeper into their experiences and expectations.
  • Implement user testing to identify usability issues and areas for improvement.

Step 5: Analyze and iterate

Analyze user feedback and data:

Thoroughly analyze the collected user feedback and data to extract meaningful insights.

  • Look for patterns and trends in user feedback to identify common pain points or areas of delight.
  • Use analytics tools to assess user behavior, feature usage, and overall product performance.
  • Categorize feedback into actionable insights and areas for improvement.

Prioritize improvements:

Prioritize improvements based on the identified feedback and data analysis.

  • Address critical issues or usability concerns that significantly impact user satisfaction.
  • Evaluate the feasibility and resource requirements of each improvement before prioritizing.
  • Consider long-term strategic goals when deciding on the sequence of enhancements.

Iterate on the MVP:

Implement changes and updates to the MVP based on the prioritized improvements.

  • Release regular updates to address user feedback and enhance the product iteratively.
  • Communicate changes transparently with users, highlighting the value of each update.
  • Maintain a continuous improvement mindset, with a focus on delivering ongoing value to users.

Having understood the step-by-step process, let's examine real-world examples of successful Minimum Viable Products that have made a significant impact.

Successful real-world examples of MVPs

Examining successful real-world examples provides valuable insights into the power of MVPs. Companies that have effectively implemented this strategy showcase how a well-executed MVP can lead to successful products, market validation, and customer satisfaction:


Airbnb, the home-sharing platform, embarked on its journey as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that revolutionized the hospitality industry. The success of Airbnb's MVP lies in its simplicity and user-focused approach.

Airbnb's MVP

1) Simple accommodation marketplace:

  • Idea: Airbnb's MVP began as a basic platform allowing hosts to list spare rooms or properties for short-term rentals.
  • Execution: The website enabled users to easily search for accommodations, view photos, and make bookings with a straightforward user interface.
  • Outcome: Airbnb validated the concept and user demand, paving the way for subsequent features and expansion.

2) User feedback integration:

  • Approach: Airbnb actively sought feedback from both hosts and guests, using it to refine the platform.
  • Implementation: A feedback loop was established, allowing the platform to quickly address issues, improve user experience, and build trust.
  • Impact: This iterative process helped Airbnb build a reliable service, fostering trust among users and driving the platform's growth.

3) Iterative development and expansion:

  • Strategy: Airbnb's MVP was not a static product; it continuously evolved based on user behavior and market trends.
  • Execution: Gradual feature additions, such as instant booking and enhanced search filters, were implemented to enhance the platform's functionality.
  • Success: By consistently iterating and expanding, Airbnb transformed from a simple MVP into a global hospitality giant.


Dropbox, a cloud storage service, exemplifies the effectiveness of an MVP in solving a specific problem and gradually expanding its capabilities.

Dropbox's MVP

1) Solving file storage issues:

  • Identification: Dropbox recognized the common frustration of file synchronization and sharing.
  • Solution: The MVP focused on a simple cloud-based storage solution with a drag-and-drop interface for file sharing.
  • Outcome: Users quickly adopted Dropbox as it effectively addressed their immediate file storage and sharing needs.

2) User onboarding and referral mechanics:

  • Simplicity: The Dropbox MVP employed a minimalistic onboarding process, guiding users through the core functionalities.
  • Integration: Intuitive referral mechanics were introduced, rewarding users for inviting others to join Dropbox.
  • Impact: The simplicity of onboarding and referral incentives played a pivotal role in user acquisition and rapid growth.

3) Gradual feature expansion:

  • User-driven development: Dropbox expanded its features based on user feedback and usage patterns.
  • Evolution: Features like file collaboration, selective sync, and offline access were introduced incrementally.
  • Success: This iterative approach helped Dropbox become more than just a file storage solution, evolving into a comprehensive collaboration platform.


Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth, began as an MVP focused on selling books online and gradually transformed into a diverse and expansive online marketplace.

Amazon's MVP

1) Book retail MVP:

  • Start point: Amazon's MVP centered around the simple idea of selling books online, leveraging the expanding capabilities of the internet.
  • Execution: The website allowed users to browse, order, and receive books through a streamlined online purchasing process.
  • Validation: The success of the book retail MVP validated the potential of e-commerce on a broader scale.

2) Iterative e-commerce expansion:

  • Strategic growth: Amazon strategically expanded its product offerings beyond books, adding categories like electronics, clothing, and more.
  • Customer-centric approach: The focus remained on providing a seamless shopping experience, with customer reviews and efficient delivery.
  • Outcome: Amazon's iterative expansion and commitment to customer satisfaction propelled it to become the "everything store."

3) Diversification and innovation:

  • Adaptation: Amazon continued to diversify by introducing services like Amazon Prime, Kindle, and AWS.
  • Innovation: The company embraced innovation with features like one-click purchasing and voice-activated shopping.
  • Success: Amazon's MVP success lies not only in its initial simplicity but also in its ability to adapt, innovate, and diversify over time.

While success stories are inspiring, it's essential to navigate through the challenges and considerations that may arise during MVP development. Let's explore these aspects in the next section.

Challenges and considerations while building an MVP

Despite the benefits, building a Minimum Viable Product comes with its share of challenges. Addressing these considerations head-on is crucial for navigating the complexities of product development, ensuring a smoother and more successful MVP journey:

1) Over-scoping: Trying to pack too many features into the MVP

Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) demands focus. Over-scoping, a common pitfall, occurs when teams attempt to squeeze an abundance of features into the initial release. 

This approach can lead to delays, increased costs, and a diluted user experience. To avoid this, prioritize essential functionalities aligned with core user needs. 

MVP priority matrix
Source: In Truth It's Not That Simple

By resisting the urge to over-bloat the MVP, teams ensure a streamlined development process and can swiftly respond to user feedback.

2) Feature creep: Adding features based on personal preference, not user needs

Feature creep, born from personal preferences rather than user requirements, can sabotage MVP development. 

Teams may be tempted to include functionalities that align with individual tastes rather than addressing the targeted user's pain points. 

A meme on feature creep

A vigilant approach is vital, ensuring that each added feature directly contributes to solving a user problem. 

Regularly reassess the product against user needs to prevent unnecessary complexities. A lean and purposeful MVP ensures a more effective and user-centric solution.

3) Ignoring feedback: Failing to incorporate user insights into future iterations

User feedback is the compass guiding MVP refinement. Ignoring it jeopardizes the product's evolution. Teams must actively seek and embrace user insights, incorporating them into subsequent iterations.

Failing to incorporate user insights into future iterations
Source: Tyner Blain

The failure to do so risks building a disconnected product that might miss the mark. Encourage open channels of communication with users through surveys, feedback forms, or user testing sessions. 

The iterative nature of MVP development relies on a continuous feedback loop, ensuring the product aligns with user expectations and preferences.

4) Lack of communication: Not setting expectations with stakeholders about the MVP's purpose and limitations

Clear communication with stakeholders is foundational for a successful MVP. Failing to set expectations regarding the product's purpose and limitations can lead to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. 

Clearly define the MVP's scope, its primary objectives, and the compromises made to expedite the development process. Educate stakeholders about the MVP's experimental nature, emphasizing that it's a starting point for refinement. 

MVP expecations

Transparent communication builds trust, aligning expectations and fostering collaboration among the diverse contributors to the product's success.

To assist product teams in overcoming challenges, let's now discuss tools that can be instrumental in the MVP development process.

Tools to consider while building an MVP

Selecting the right tools is key to streamlining the MVP development process. From project management to prototyping, a variety of tools can enhance efficiency and collaboration within product teams. Exploring and implementing these tools strategically can significantly contribute to the overall success of the MVP:

1) Blitzllama (for prototype feedback)


When crafting your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), feedback is key. Blitzllama is a valuable tool for gathering prototype feedback. It enables you to share your prototype with stakeholders, clients, or potential users, collecting insights to refine your product. With its user-friendly interface, feedback becomes straightforward, fostering efficient collaboration during the crucial early stages of MVP development.

2) Figma / Figjam (for prototyping and wireframing)


Figma and Figjam are versatile tools for prototyping and wireframing. They facilitate seamless collaboration among product teams by allowing real-time editing and commenting. Create interactive prototypes to visualize your MVP's design and functionality. The simplicity of these tools ensures that everyone on the team, regardless of their design expertise, can actively contribute to the development process.

3) Miro (for digital whiteboarding)


Miro brings the traditional whiteboard into the digital realm, aiding in brainstorming and planning for your MVP. Its collaborative features allow teams to sketch ideas, map out user journeys, and organize thoughts visually. Miro's digital whiteboarding capabilities enhance remote collaboration, making it an essential tool for geographically dispersed product teams. Leverage Miro to streamline the ideation and planning phases, ensuring a well-structured foundation for your MVP development.


In essence, creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) boils down to clear goals and user-centric simplicity. Teams must prioritize core features, swiftly develop, and gather user feedback. 

This iterative process allows for efficient adjustments, ensuring the product aligns with user needs. By focusing on the essentials, teams can save time, resources, and refine the product based on real-world usage. 

Building an MVP isn't about complex maneuvers; it's about delivering a functional, user-friendly foundation. In this journey, simplicity reigns supreme, enabling teams to evolve their product in step with user preferences and market demands.

FAQs on building an MVP

1) How long should an MVP take to build?

Building an MVP typically takes a few months. The exact duration varies based on project complexity and features. It's crucial to strike a balance between speed and quality. Rapid development allows quick user feedback, ensuring timely adjustments. Aim for a concise timeframe to minimize costs and stay responsive to market needs.

2) How much does it cost to build an MVP?

The cost of an MVP depends on factors like features and team rates. On average, it can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Prioritize essential features to manage costs effectively. Consider outsourcing to leverage cost-efficient resources without compromising quality. Regularly assess and adjust the budget to align with evolving project requirements.

3) How do you create an MVP in Agile?

In Agile, MVP development involves iterative cycles. Begin by defining a clear product vision and identifying key features. Break down tasks into sprints, each focusing on specific functionalities. Regularly engage with stakeholders to gather feedback and make swift adjustments. Agile promotes adaptability, ensuring the product aligns with user expectations throughout development. Regular communication within the team enhances collaboration and accelerates progress.

4) What are the 3 elements of an MVP?

An MVP comprises three core elements:

a. Core features: Include only essential functionalities that address the primary user needs. Prioritize features that define the product's core value proposition.

b. Minimum usable design: Develop a user interface that is simple, functional, and user-friendly. Avoid unnecessary complexities, focusing on a design that facilitates easy navigation and engagement.

c. Effective feedback mechanism: Implement a system for collecting user feedback. This helps in understanding user preferences and refining the product. Quick feedback loops are crucial for adapting to changing market demands.