Launching faster, in weeks rather than in months, can be crucial. Whether it is to prove or disprove a startup’s Value Proposition early, or to keep the team motivated whilst maintaining low costs.
The Lean Startup theory holds that:
the minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
In other words, launching a startup should be about creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It should aim to achieve maximum Customer Validation while employing the minimum effort in terms of time and money.
However, when helping Founders build their startup with Altar.io we frequently see a common problem. We find that they struggle to find a simple unique value proposition (UVP) that is easy to validate. This results in:
- Complex value propositions
- Scope creep (too many features) aka Kitchen Sink Syndrome
- Too much effort, time and investment.
This is why projects, first of all, should find a UVP that is extremely simple to understand. On top of this, it needs to be valuable to the target audience. This helps to scope features in a way that are meaningful, proportional and achievable in a short period of time.
Finding a simple UVP and a small scope results in a faster MVP launch and a smaller wait to achieve early validation results in more time to adapt to customer feedback.
Above all, this saves entrepreneurs a lot of money. It is a bad idea to simply ask an agency to execute ideas that are not well defined or super complex. It is paramount to find that simple, easy to explain UVP. As my colleague puts it in our 3 step guide to building an MVP, it needs to be KISS: Keep It Stupid Simple!
The State of Custom App Development Focuses on Execution – Not on Product
In the US, to build an App you need to hire a team at an hourly rate of $150, according to this Techcrunch article. That results in a handsome $100,000 to $150,000. Assuming you will need 4 people for 4–6 months, for instance.
To illustrate further, in this article from The Next Web a simple MVP of Instagram would have taken 3–6 months. Most importantly it would have cost $100,000 – $300,000.
Meanwhile, the folks over at Gigster say that a mid complexity Web + Android + iOS project will set you back around $130,000 and take about 4–6 months.
According to this article, an Indian or Eastern European high standard agency will set you back roughly a third of US rates ($40 – $60 per hour). That roughly translates to $35,000 to $60,000 for your iOS, Android or Web App. If you want all three together you will have to multiply time and cost.
Therefore, if you want to develop a mid complexity app, it can cost anywhere between $35,000 to $150,000 – and take up to 6 months. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this is too expensive and too long a process – resulting in a discouragement to carry on.
This is why, here at Altar.io, we came up with an idea to increase chances of success by getting involved early. We don’t just focus on execution (pure development), but also on the product definition process. Doing this makes sure you will validate your business quickly with the right audience via a meaningful product (MVP).
The way ahead: Altar.io’s Startup Building Process
As second-time founders, we know an entrepreneur’s quest for speed and early KPIs. That’s why we’ve created a method that we use with our clients at Altar.io. Simply put, it breaks down large scopes into simple, logical and achievable stages – that result in a valuable MVP sooner rather than later.
Stage 1: The Scope
This is a conversation to dive deep in the customer problem. This results in a solution to extract the user top priorities (aka user stories) that will fit in the MVP. Then a spec sheet and a Stakeholders Analysis/User Stories are created for the project.
Only the features that are absolutely fundamental to prove that it solves the customer problem should be inside the initial scope.
Stage 2: Product Study
Execution of the main screens and their UX flows to deliver UX wireframes and UI mockups. Here is an example: an analysis of one of our Product Studies: The Venga Product Study.
Stage 3: Development
Execution of the Software Architecture foundations/API structure. Execution of the HTML/CSS Styling – Frontend and Backend Development.
Stage 4: Delivery
Final testing (development testing was done previously with Test Driven Development) with the deployment of Funnel Tracking/Metrics.
Stage 5: Launch & Feedback Loops
After the launch of the app, an Agile approach is required for rapid iteration. Base this on customer feedback – achieved via multidimensional tracking/metrics.
Technology-wise we use development best practices and the most advanced frameworks both for backend and frontend to launch top-notch products. We use Node.js and Angular 2 + Redux for web Apps and Native Script for mobile.
Productize, Develop, Validate early
To sum up, we believe the future of App development won’t be just about executing/developing ideas. That is to say, we believe the future of App development will be much more Product centric.
Without a doubt, focussing on Product early helps to ensure that an app is built in a way that it is meaningful to its audience. Subsequently, it will be in a position to achieve great metrics and that only what is necessary gets built into the MVP.
This approach means a smaller scope, a shorter development time and a lower budget. That’s how your Startup can be launched in a few weeks, not several months.