Definition of an MVP: Minimum Viable Product

Definition of an MVP: A minimum viable product (MVP) is always the first version of a product with only the “core and most useful features” meant for early adaptors. MVP Development is low cost, low risk, quick and it works!

The term MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was first coined by Frank Robinson (Founder of SyncDev) back in 2001, however it was popularized into the masses through the works of Eric Ries through his works especially the book Lean Startup which is a go-to book for all modern day Entrepreneurs, and also by Steve Blank.

The definition of an MVP, since then, has changed a lot and gained many flavors because of the way startups are conceived, launched, and grown has changed a lot over the last two decades. Though MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is applicable across all the industries, it is widely used in the domain of Tech Startups that are creating digital software products like Mobile Apps, Web Apps, IoT Apps, AI Apps etc.

Common Myths around Minimum Viable Products: An MVP is often confused with a Prototype,  Proof of Concept, Test Product, and even with wireframes or Blueprint, and that is a wrong understanding. An MVP is a commercial product that users can actually use (and often pay for) and is not at all an “Prototype or Proof of concept” for internal testing.

What makes a product an MVP?


MVP Development Process


It is important to understand that an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a relative term and not absolute. An MVP of a bigger product (Say MVP of Dropbox) can be a full product in itself of a smaller product vision. If your full product vision has 20 big features then an MVP can have mostly 2 to 5 core features, whereas if your full product vision has just 5 total features then its MVP can have just 1 or maybe 2. Hence, as I said, an MVP is relative to its full product vision.

In the world of Startups doing Software, App Development, Web Development, the following are some real “pointers” that can define an MVP:

  • An MVP is a smaller and quickly developed version of a potentially bigger software product idea.
  • An MVP is the version of your software product that should be created and launched within 3 to 6 months.
  • An MVP is not a “Proof of Concept” for testing, it’s a working product that is launched in the market in front of real users.
  • An MVP can be both paid or free product. In the current world, it is often times Freemium i.e you use it for free for a limited time and limited features and then pay for the full features.
  • An MVP is often times easily scalable, it just waits for more users to jump on and next features are implemented.
  • An MVP is a tangible (and proven) form of your product idea and hence an ideal candidate for raising investments.
  • It is okay to test 2 different MVPs for the same product for the sake of A/B testing with slightly different names so you can later stick with and capitalize on the version that is better received.
  • You do need to market your MVP product to reach more users and that can involve both paid or organic marketing efforts. Not properly marketing an MVP is the biggest mistake (and sadly most commonly done) an Entrepreneur can do.
  • You can’t ideate an MVP properly if you don’t have a larger product vision at first place.


MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Examples from the Real World?

Both theoretically and practically almost all big software products and Apps you use today were once MVPs (Except a few examples of good old office tools from giant software publishers, lol). But let’s take up some recent and well known examples:

  • Whatsapp Messenger was a pretty lean MVP when it was first launched and it only had a mechanism to send messages and invite others and few more essential features. And now, it lets you do group calls, put status, create groups, communities, exchange money and what not.
  • Your beloved Facebook was an MVP made inside a college campus that just had a good UI, user’s database, ability to send connections and write on the wall.  It was a “bigger size” MVP though but compare that with the features that you see on a “Grown Up” Facebook, you’ll call the earlier version as the MVP.
  • Airbnb was an MVP not on the software side but also on the operations side as the founders used their own apartment to test the concept. As per my understanding, Airbnb is the most excellent example of an MVP in recent times.
  • Big apps like Instagram, Youtube, Dropbox were all very-very lean versions of their current selves when they were just an MVP.

Did you see one common thing in the examples above? Well, the Core reasons for which users originally opted for them are still the most compelling ones. The scale, the convenience, the side features, the AI capabilities – all are changed for good but the original reasons of using them are still the same. You still join and stay on fb to connect with friends, you still use whatsapp primarily for messaging, you still go to Airbnb to book an apartment and so on.

There are also examples of products that have completely changed from their MVP offering (pivoted too!) but such cases are usually fewer and when they changed their core offering they actually rebranded themselves too.

The lesson here: Be very thoughtful, pragmatic, visionary and research oriented when identifying your MVP Minimum Viable product, for it is what is going to stay for a long time when you see the success!



How can an MVP Development Company help Startups in building their MVP?

An MVP Development company like Agicent can help you immensely in not only building the MVP version of your Product but also in ideation, App idea validation, MVP marketing, and then also scaling the MVP to a full product. The usefulness of such a Tech Partner gets super higher when you don’t have your own technical team and quickly want to create your MVP in low risk and short time. The following are the services of an MVP Development Company:

  • MVP Product Discovery: Understanding your larger product vision by working closely with you and then identifying and filtering out the “Core Features” for the MVP Development.
  • Roadmap from MVP to full Product: An MVP Development Company will work with you in identifying the MVP version of the product and then its future roadmap when it achieves some success.
  • UI/ UX Design and Wireframing: An MVP Development company will create the visual simulation of your product in the form of high fidelity UI/UX screens or wireframes.
  • Scoping and MVP Development Cost: Once the scope of work is identified for the MVP, an MVP Development Company can then estimate the cost and time duration to develop that MVP.

At Agicent, we offer you both fixed price MVP Development Cost and also a “Monthly cost of a Development Team” that starts at as low as $ 2900/ month and you get a team of Full stack developer, designer, tester, project owner at your disposal to work on a regular basis.

  • Tech Stack Identification and Scalable Architecture: your MVP Development company will work on finding the easiest and most scalable Tech stack for your MVP Product development. That can include using open source technologies and ready to use libraries to cut down the cost of MVP development and also to secure hosting services. This also includes the creation of the MVP Architecture in a way that the future scaling is easier (and that’s why we emphasize on knowing the bigger product vision even when the actual MVP development is just a tiny part of it).
  • Actual MVP Development: As the name suggests, this is the actual meat of the whole game of MVP – the actual MVP Development. This will include coding the front end and backend, creating APIs, testing whenever a new feature is developed, shipping it and going live and adding more features. A truly agile way to keep enhancing the product when it is already in action in the market.

The most important part of the MVP development is continuous testing, deployment, taking feedback and iterations and then go for the hold when MVP is launched. Wait for the customer and investor feedback, and then start working on the newer features.

MVP Development is as similar as any other software development, though the differentiator here is the approach. The MVP Development teams have a very focused goal in terms of product features and time to market all bells and whistles are left for the future development.

MVP Development Cost: How much does it cost to build an MVP?

A really important and most commonly asked question is How much does it cost to build an MVP App? The normal answer to MVP Development cost would be- it depends! However, after working on plenty of MVP products over the last decade, we’ve found some kind of range for the MVP development and we are happy to share that with you as follows:

  • An MVP should be build inside 3 months (using 1 developer team) to 6 months (with 2 developer team). As per our costing standards, this means between $ 9000 to $ 18000. Time * Engineer skills are the major MVP Development cost factors here.
  • A complex MVP where you are creating a unique tech feature (which may not have been done before) will cost more as you’ll do that as follows –

You create the Proof of concept at first, and that can cost from $ 5000 to anything. Just to give you an example – we recently started working on a PoC project where we needed to capture and study the “speech pattern” of a particular user group and then to achieve the capabilities to identify different speech patterns technologically. Now this PoC took more than 3 months already and more than $ 25000 as the investment. However, such projects are one in a hundred but really challenging and have the potential to change the world in a larger way. If you have that level of challenging project, contact us and we’ll lay out a proper plan for research and development.

Once the proof of concept passes, you go about creating the whole MVP product around it so again around $ 18000 + anything. So total cost will be more. You’ll ofcourse pivot if the proof of concept fails to achieve the required outcome.

  • An MVP using modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Generative AI, chatbots etc will need to be trained on a large amount of data first before it becomes actually useful for the users. Such AI laden MVPs will definitely cost more than the regular ones.

However, using existing AI libraries (which are mostly paid) one can save a lot of time on implementation and training of the AI engines and hence the cost. You can launch your MVP for success using such ready to use libraries, pay as you use and once you see a large user base you can replace these third party libraries with your own code and get the best of both the worlds. A real good Fractional CTO can guide you to choose the right technology set for your MVP as well as future full scale product. You can hire such a CTO from Agicent at a very reasonable Fractional CTO Cost starting from $ 50/ hour.

How to save cost on MVP Development?

MVPs are already very quick and low cost so the scope for saving the cost is limited. However, as mentioned sparingly in this article above following are some of the approaches that can be taken in order to save the cost on MVP Development:

  • Using open source libraries as much as you can, but so far they do not break the architecture and quality of the product and should not create a problem in the future (which mostly happens when you migrate data while migrating the technologies).
  • Use pay as you go services for big features like video calling, Generative AIs, payment gateways etc. You can always create your own technology for these features when you have the right reasons and funds to do so. But initially, using pay as you go tools and libraries sound the most wise decision.
  • Control temptations to iterate: No matter how much you liked your design and feature list, you’ll always find something better in the market while developing your own MVP. The temptation to include all the best things in the world or iterate endlessly during the MVP development itself is what needs to be controlled. The whole idea of an MVP is to launch a “feature controlled, highly focused product” so don’t make your own MVP product an endless developmental project. Rather than putting all the great features that come to your mind during development, you better wait for the customers to give you the feedback as “what they want” in your product, let them love your product and give their feedback and their feedback + your own vision will be your next feature list.
  • Use stock designs, less custom designs: Similar to using ready to use codebases instead of custom code the same principle applies on the design. The more customized your design is, the more time that’s going to take at the front end development’s end and hence increase the cost. Use easy and universally acceptable UI UX during the MVP unless the whole differentiator of your product is UI UX itself, and saves a lot of cost.
  • Use Cross-platform technology in case of Mobile App MVPs: Use cross platform technologies like React native, Flutter instead of native Swift or Kotlin so you can target both major mobile OS platforms iOS and Android using one code base. This approach saves the cost and time not only while building the MVP but also in the future enhancements and scaling.
  • Use cheaper, pay-as-you-use types servers and hosting services so you can start small and then upgrade whenever there is a need.

The difference between an MVP, Prototype and a Proof of Concept?

Even though some people use the terms MVP, PoC, prototype interchangeably, they are very different in their purpose, approach, and makings. This table shall help you identify simple differentiators:


ParametersMVPPrototypeProof of Concept
DefinitionAn MVP is the first version of your product with core features and is launched for the users.A prototype is a blueprint of a potential product meant for internal reviews.A PoC is the proof that the product is feasible, and is meant for feasibility internally.
CommerciallyAN MVP is launched to the market commercially.A prototype is not launched commercially.A proof of concept is not launched commercially.
ScalabilityAn MVP can be very much scalable with more features and technology to become a full product.A prototype can be scaled to become an MVP or a full product.A proof of concept is not scaled, but utilized for actual development as the base technology.
FunctionalityAn MVP is always functional for the features it is intended to offer to the users. An MVP is never non-functional.A prototype can be non functional or functional both depending upon what the internal stakeholders want.A proof of concept needs to be functional in order to establish the feasibility of the concept. However, its raw and not commercial level usable as its not launched commercially.
PaymentAn MVP is usually offered as a paid product, or freemium, or generate revenue through ads.A prototype is for internal teams, not sold as a paid product to the customers. Can be sold to investors though.A Proof of concept is for internal teams, not sold as a paid product. Can be sold to investors though.


MVP Development Process

The following is a pretty widely accepted MVP development process:

  • Feature list finalization: and this is the most important step. You list down all the possible features that you want in your product and then filter out everything but only the core features which are most useful and sellable for your target customers. Basically, find out the USP features and build on them.
  • Quick Wireframing: Spend not more than 3 days in creating the barebone wireframes of the identified MVP feature list.
  • Quick UI/ UX (and leave room to improvise later): Spend not more than a week or two in creating high fidelity designs. Use as many stock designs as you can to save the development time as we discussed above.
  • Create Architecture, Tech Stack, Identify libraries and build PoCs if needed: Do this step considering future scaling options. Use cross platform technologies, ready to use paid or open source libraries, also choose the stack which is widely used by developers as their career technology otherwise you may end up with a technology that don’t have much developers community.
  • Implementation: All set and done, start the development and release in ideally 3 months (if its a bigger MVP use 2 or more developers) but don’t drag for more than 6 months.

Best practices for MVP Development

Summarizing what we’ve already discussed in this article about best practices for MVP Development:

  • Don’t drag MVP development for anything beyond 6 months.
  • Use as much ready to use technology, cross platform technology as possible. You can always replace them with your own tech or with a better tech later on.
  • Have a larger vision on paper, but implement that only after MVP is launched and successful.
  • Don’t spend more than $ 20,000 for an MVP that is not technically complex.
  • Work with a proper MVP development company who are accountable and have team of different skill sets, instead of working with individual developers or freelancers.
  • You don’t need to hire and create your own development team just for the MVP, so don’t waste your time there. Just pick the right development team, get the MVP done, launch, see feedback, then raise funds or generate revenue and then figure out if you need an in-house team or can carry forward with the MVP development company.
  • Start marketing your MVP right from the day you’ve a landing page to show, get some early emails, make a lot of noise so by the time you are ready to launch you already have interested users.

When to Scale from MVP to Full Product?

Different strategies for different product types, but largely you should become really serious about scaling to full product from MVP as soon as:

  1. You have 5 to 10 K active users on your App.
  2. You’ve gained some early rounds of funding from investors (Angels in case of MVP).
  3. You start generating revenue on an everyday basis, however small or big it can be but a revenue every day proves your business idea as solid and it becomes worth risking everything for.
  4. You have equally or more aggressively active competitors in the same niche, and therefore you will need to scale up faster than them or in a better way.

When “NOT” to develop an MVP?

Although building an MVP is a perfect strategy for almost any new product startup, it may not be a “must” for certain kind of companies or product types. Here are some of the scenarios where “You don’t need to build an MVP”:

  • If the market you are targeting already has competitive products offering big feature list, then there is no point for you to start small. You either do it as good or better than the existing competitors or just pivot and first find your USP.
  • Even if your product is unique but is so big that its MVP version won’t make sense. In other words, it’s a product that can only be useful for the customers when it comes with all the big feature list. An AI laden new age CRM system can be a good example here. You can’t just launch a CRM with one or two functionality no matter how unique it is, it will only work when it has all the essential feature lists.
  • You’ve already found your “Product Market Fit” through early adapters and they are ready to use when you launch it. It can only happen in case of a B2B scenario where a business sides with you to create a certain kind of product and then you can white-lable and sell that to others.
  • When you have a decent budget and time to launch a full product and risk appetite is higher or you are absolutely sure about the success.

How to raise funds for MVP Development?

Easier said than done, but here are some tried and tested strategies that helped our Startups clients to raise funds for their MVP and full product:

  • Strive to achieve first 5 to 10,000 users and make a successful case for your startup.
  • Make an easy to understand business plan with realistc forecasts, merge the whole pitch into a 1 minute video with links to “read more”.
  • Prepare a list of investors who fund MVPs or early stage startups, prioritize those who have invested in similar kind of startups before (basically see their portfolio and find a relation), find decision makers of those investors and pitch them a meeting. Do this exercise on a daily basis, linkedin is your friend here. Agicent can offer you a virtual assistant sales pitcher who can do this on your behalf on a daily basis and secure meetings. If your pitch is right, you’ll secure one good meeting out of 20 pitches you sent – we’ve seen this work pretty fine before and will work for you too.

Difference between MVP and MLP?

An MLP stands for Minimum Loveable Product and there is no set definition for this. However, an MLP is little more than an MVP where the approach is: The customer not only accepts the MVP but also falls in love with that. Pretty much the same thing, however, the additional love makes it what? Well, a more loveable product! 🙂

Frequently Asked Questions


Yes, that's what we do everyday. Consulting our clients in carving out the MVP scope from the big feature list. Just contact us through [email protected] and one of our product consultants will solve this for you.

Yes, we do this all the time. 2 out of 5 projects we get are always the ones previously worked upon by other developers. We've some great examples of Apps like Aiko & Egor, Wellcure, Studiothink that were once being developed by other development teams but could never finish. They partnered with us, and we made them a reality.


Sudeep Bhatnagar
Co-founder & Director of Business
Sudeep Bhatnagar

Talk to our experts who have been running successful Digital Product Development (Apps, Web Apps), Offshore Team Operations, and Hardcore Software Development Campaigns. During the discovery session, we'll explore the opportunities and Scope of the work and provide you an expert consulting on the right options to achieve the outcomes.

Be it a new App Development project, or creation of an offshore developers team, or digitalization of your existing market offerings - You'll get the best advise and service and pricing. We are excited to speak to you!

Book a Call

Let’s Create Big Stories Together!

Mobile is in our nerves. We don’t just build apps, we create brands.

Choosing us will be your best decision.