UPDATE: Step 2 added following feedback on Twitter
The developer behind Appbot – a service for app developers who want their app store reviews and features in their email inbox – has posted the lessons he learned when building his minimum viable product. There is nothing revolutionary here, but it is a good list of things to do. This is my summary:
- Build something for yourself, that you would use, especially if you are a first time entrepreneur. There is no better way to understand a problem than to have it yourself
- Validate the market – e.g. via quick analysis of Google query volume
- Build it quick – focus on the key feature, everything else can come later (this is the ‘minimum’ bit)
- Don’t reinvent the wheel – leverage every tool and platform you can
- Pick a small test group to get started – Appbot initially reached out to six developers
- Build a story people care about – the key to word of mouth marketing is giving people a story they can tell (and will tell)
- Reach out to early users for feedback
- Let people know how to contact you
- Listen to the feedback, but only implement the good stuff. When you decide not to implement something politely explain why.
- Track and watch everything – Google analytics, conversion rates, open rates, A/B testing etc (get the code right up front so you can track everything)
Appbot has had pretty good success with this model and many others will to. Those that don’t will find out their idea sucks quickly, which is also good.
We still see a good number of plans that follow the old model of spending lots of money pre-launch to develop a full feature set. There are probably markets where that makes sense, but to say I far prefer the MVP approach would be an understatement.