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  • Writer's pictureSylvester

MVP vs Full Product Development: Which is the right approach for your business?

After some evaluation with your team, you’ve decided it’s time to invest in a custom software development solution for your SMB or startup. Now, you may be wondering which is the right approach: building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), or investing in full product development?

Full Product Dev vs MVP

Full product development aims to create a comprehensive and feature-rich solution from the outset, often involving a more extensive development process and a complete set of planned features. By contrast, MVP development is about getting a lean product into market as quickly as possible to gain user feedback.

With this in mind, we want to ask a different question:

Does full product dev really exist?

Or is it really a matter of how you strategize your investment in an MVP? MVP vs full product dev is a false dichotomy that can hold back a business from getting valuable user feedback. Your definition of “minimum” and “viable” will evolve as your product evolves if you get a product into market quickly and give users a chance to respond.

How to Strategize Your Investment

Let’s say you’re a startup with a million dollar budget to invest in your new solution, with a goal of getting five customers. You don’t need a million dollar platform to reach those five customers, but once you have those five, you will have to evolve the product to support your next goal of 50 customers. Investing $250K into an MVP would help you reach your initial goal, gather feedback on the product, and allow you room in your budget to refine the product to reach the next goal and the next goal after that. It’s all about defining the sandbox for your initial investment, versus what gets earmarked for later development. And, crucially, it’s about building a product based on user input rather than assumptions.

At Mile Marker, we use agile development methodologies to make an initial product release as soon as possible so that we can validate, iterate, and refine our client’s product into something viable for the long term.

In other words, the MVP is the initial step towards a full product development.

By contrast, some other dev shops will build to your budget, but that often means you’re locked into a rigid project scope without guarantee of a successful product. This creates significant risk: there’s no room to pivot or modify the plan if the user data indicates that the product isn’t meeting their expectations. It’s smarter to tranche your investment with growth in mind, with you and your dev partner aligned on clear KPIs for each phase of development, so that the product can evolve successfully.

The benefits of an MVP:

  • Real relationships with your customers. An MVP can start extremely small, with just one or two users. At this scale, their feedback is crucial and relationship-building is important. Your first customers should know your team’s names, have frequent meetings, and become your friends.

  • Reduced “failure footprint.” An MVP is all about figuring out whether a solution is viable with a cost-effective process. When you start small, it reduces the likelihood of remakes and it reduces initial costs.

  • Faster time to market. When you’re not aiming for perfection on the first try, you can move faster. An MVP is faster to build, iterate, and gain momentum, keeping you a few steps ahead of potential competition.

  • Higher chance at scaling your business sustainably. An MVP is also, ideally, built to scale as you gain user input and trust.

How minimal is viable?

We get this question a lot from our clients, and we like to use the example of Dropbox. Founder Drew Houston had a very simple vision: create a file storage system that could be accessible across different devices and platforms. Before he even built a prototype, Drew created a demo video that allowed him to gain validation – proof that people even wanted the product. From there, he built a product with a single feature: syncing files between folders on a computer. No advanced backups, versioning, or sharing that now exists in Dropbox. Today, Dropbox is a leading file storage product with a really robust feature set driven by user input, rather than assumptions or mimicry of other products in the market.

The simplest ideas are often the most powerful.

Your definition of “minimum viable” will be unique to your business and market, but it’s the foundation for a successful dev experience. Just keep it simple.

If you’re seeking MVP software development services for your startup or SMB, let’s talk. Our agile development strategy gives us the ability to build an MVP and get it into market at startup speed.

About Mile Marker

Mile Marker is your strategic partner for agile software development. Created for founders, by founders, we offer strategic software at startup speed. We specialize in aligning your technical work with your business goals through collaborative planning, offering a multidisciplinary development team, and ensuring ongoing support for your software. If you’re searching for a software development company or need a technical partner, start the conversation with an introductory call.


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