Curious about how much it costs to build an MVP? Bringing your idea to fruition can be incredibly gratifying, not to mention profitable. Sadly, many who dream of creating the next app or software fail due to faulty market research. In fact, records show that forty-two percent fail because there is no consumer demand. Thus, it is essential to create an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, to determine the potential success of a product. For example, if you propose a new app, building an MVP can help assess the market appeal. Furthermore, annual surveys indicate that MVPs have several advantages.
Let’s dive in!
What Are the Various Reasons to Build an MVP?
Before we learn about an MVP development price, why don’t we take a look at why an MVP is necessary?
Here are some factors that point towards building a minimum viable product for your own startup.
|Pandemic||Companies have seen a massive boost due to the pandemic. For example, Amazon’s market capitalization has gained around $570 billion. The idea of contactless deliveries has also been advantageous to various food delivery businesses. This is a clear indication that if you have an application idea, it is best to give it a try now. Why? As some countries are still under lockdown, people have a lot of spare time. Hence, a good time-killer application like a game would be ideal!|
|Market Growth||It is simple to comprehend that without a market a successful application is impossible. The global mobile application market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2020-27. Applications such as eCommerce, Education, Gaming, Medical, and AI have excellent future growth prospects. Hence, it will be prudent to find an idea and build an MVP for such apps. Some great startup examples are SurveyAuto, Snackpass, CoachHub, NuvoAir, etc.|
|Profitable in long term||This is the most important factor that supports building an MVP for startups. Here are a few points that make an MVP profitable: No-budget burn. The CBInsights report states that 29% of the startups fail due to lack of cash. This is a benefit an MVP offers. You can gauge the outlook of the application and save money which may not be available with a full-fledged app. User-centric development. Develop an MVP app and understand user expectations and reviews. It will help develop a user-centric application. Product-market fit. The best thing about an MVP is that you understand the market whereas 34% of the startups fail because of this.|
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What Is the Cost to Build MVP App?
Several key factors affect the firmness of the cost to create an MVP.
Founders often incorrectly assume that app building cost is solely based on the technologies utilized; however, this is not the case.
The budget for product creation is only one part of the equation. It’s equally critical the project timeline is maintained and the concept behind it is sound.
If the product’s creator wants to produce a top-notch product, it’s paramount to carefully select the right developers.
Below, we explore some of the available options.
Option 1: Hire Freelancers [Cheap and Cheerful]
It’s a viable, budget-friendly option to get started.
You can use freelance platforms such as freelancer.com, upwork.com, fiverr.com to find suitable developers.
The main issue with freelancers is their lack of commitment to the project.
If something goes wrong, they can just drop out and you would then be responsible for all coordination and communication.
To circumvent this, try to find local freelancers.
To properly develop a project, you would need a full-time team. Here are the average freelancer rates:
- Full-stack developer: $6 000 per month.
- Designer: $5 000 per month.
- Tester: $2 500 per month.
Thus, the total MVP cost can be up to $13, 000 per month. This chart provides salary estimates across the world.
Option 2: Build an in-House Team [Expensive and Transparent]
Sometimes founders decide to develop software in-house. This gives clear communication and transparent relations.
Having an internal team implies greater involvement in the project. However, quality of the application is still your responsibility.
The advantage of this option is easier coordination. However, the main disadvantage is the cost of development. A limited budget may limit the choice.
When hiring full-time developers, one would need to pay holiday costs, hiring costs, and so on. If the MVP stage is being considered, make sure the assigned amount suits the project.
Let’s estimate the cost of the same team:
- A full-stack developer costs an average of $9, 200 per month.
- A designer costs $3, 600 per month.
- A tester costs $4, 100 per month.
- And a project manager costs $7, 500 per month.
Therefore, the cost of internal development is approximately $25,000 per month. See the chart below to have an idea about the current salaries of developers worldwide.
Option 3: Hire a Local Team [If You Have Unlimited Budget]
Another MVP costly solution is to go with local product development. The steep price comes with well-defined, established business and technical processes.
You’ll get your own gifted development team, a project manager, and a tester with both level of engagement and legally binding protocols.
Visit Clutch.co or GoodFirms.com to explore a reputable local agency. These websites list feedback and ratings from customers to help you pick a proficient and dependable team.
Depending on the agency, rates vary from $100 to $250 per hour per specialist. This translates to an hourly rate of at least $400 for the whole team.
It’s also important to consider if you’re willing to shell out up to $64,000 per month in order to test your business assumptions. If you have the cash, this is likely a sound investment.
Option 4: Outsource MVP Development [Reasonable Cost, Reliable Results]
Outsourcing is a popular choice for startups. It’s like contracting with a local agency yet much cheaper.
However, there are two main challenges with this approach:
- building trust,
- and involving the team.
These issues can be easily managed. Research potential agencies by checking reviews, company websites, and reading case studies.
What is the cost of an MVP with an outsourcing agency?
Ukrainian agencies charge an average of $30 per hour. For a four-person team the price is $120 per hour, or up to $19, 000 per month to build an MVP.
The Summary of MVP Development Cost
When talking about numbers, the cost of building out an MVP for a startup depends on a few different factors like:
- Type of team (or developers you’ll hire),
- Hourly rate,
- Level of expertise.
Financially, when you pick the type of team and location wisely, you can regulate MVP price.
Here are some examples of it.
- Hiring freelancers will set you back approximately $13 000.
- Developing the MVP by an in-house team will cost around $25 000.
- Count on paying up to $65 000 to the local agency for the job.
- Outsourcing the MVP development might cost up to $35 000.
In general, when you develop an MVP, you include costs of design, coding, project management, and testing, and sometimes maintenance as well. Let’s look at potential expenses:
What Factors Affect the Cost of Building an MVP?
So let’s talk about how much it costs to build an MVP.
For starters, an MVP needs to have the vital features you need to start testing. And, the cost of building an MVP is largely determined at the start of the project during the discovery phase.
This is the stage where they’ll evaluate the feasibility and total cost of the MVP.
This part is the backbone of the entire app development process. It will help you decide how and where the money will be spent. Though it is not that necessary for an experienced business owner, if you are a beginner, you should not miss this part.
Below are some factors that influence the cost of MVP development.
|Idea Validation||It is a process to know if the market needs your app and are they willing to pay for it. MVP development helps to validate your idea. Additionally, it can reduce the cost of development. Examples of idea validation are MailChimp and Airbnb.|
|Discovery Phase||It is another important part to estimate the cost of an MVP. It involves gaining insights on competitors, market, target audience, business goals and cost of the app. This can help plan the budget for the entire project.|
The technical part of the app is an essential factor in calculating the cost of creating a minimum viable product. It covers app development and design, as well as the features and complexity of the app.
On the basis of complexity, the apps are categorized in three ways:
|Simple MVPs||The most basic app has limited features, like 3-4 screens, simple functions, login page, messages, etc. These apps require less development time and cost you around $10,000 to build, taking 4-5 months. Examples of such apps are a calculator, an alarm clock, or a quiz game.|
|Average Complexity Products||Medium complexity apps are a step up from simple ones, which require 6-9 months to make and typically cost $10-50k. These apps have features like data storage, payment portals, geolocation, in-app purchases, location tracking, etc. Examples include photo-sharing apps and ones related to companies.|
|Highly Complex Apps||The most complex apps are taxation service app, food delivery apps, OTT platforms, and enterprise-level apps. These apps involve time-consuming tasks such as video calling, messaging, data sync, streaming, etc. The cost of these sort of apps may stretch far over $100,000 and the development period may take over a year.|
The cost of building an MVP is significantly affected by the design of the web or mobile app.
For instance, app user interfaces consist of different types & UX is a determining factor for the cost.
Two main app types are:
- Hybrid apps: These apps include native app features and reduce the MVP cost, though being slow in functionality.
- Native apps: These apps are faster and have unique code for different platforms. However, the price is higher.
If needed, you can learn more about the app design process.
The MVP design cost can range from $1500 to $7500, depending on factors like location, type of team, design complexity & time.
A Summary of the MVP Development Process
The lean startup approach requires several steps to turn an idea into a successful, profitable product. This process provides a way to systemically test business hypotheses and build efficient processes in your startup venture.
Founders will occasionally overlook the non-development costs associated with their project when creating a budget. To prevent this, let’s review the 5 stages of product development:
- Validate your idea. To ensure success, align your vision with real customer needs. Use the idea validation framework to determine a match before investing resources.
- Build a user journey map. Invest in a lot of prototyping and use tools like Balsamiq or UXPin to create low-fidelity or clickable models for better user experience.
- Collect and prioritize MVP requirements. Create quality documentation with specific business and technical needs to build a roadmap for delivering value.
- Start an MVP development. This involves the design, coding, code review, project management, and testing. Its purpose is to find the product/market fit while keeping costs low with validated learning.
- Launch the product. Account for business costs and enhance the skills for a strong sales pitch and marketing strategy. Put more emphasis on understanding the problem to be solved, to then better sell the solution.
Minimum Viable Product Development Tips
Giving recommendations on the tools and frameworks for product creation can help shed light on the basics of building an MVP.
|Development Budget Planning||Budget planning is a difficult task for several reasons. First, it is hard to estimate the technical requirements for a non-technical founder. Second, all pain points must be addressed in the app’s user journey.|
|Include Business Costs||MVP creation involves more than just the development stage. Founders must also consider sales and marketing channels, as well as testing potential solutions. Following the Occam’s razor principle, everything superfluous should be eliminated for necessity.|
|Build Value for Customers||Value should be prioritized over cost savings. While some think more features make a better product, an MVP should focus on quality, even if that means limited resources.|
|Stop Burning Money||The cost of creating an MVP depends on the type. Sometimes you can raise enough funding with research, while other times paper-made wireframes or clickable prototypes are needed. In any case, the key points to keep in mind are: an MVP should be the basic concept, not include unnecessary features, and have an appealing design.|
MVP Expenses After Release
Now, your MVP startup is live. But the journey is not yet concluded. To acquire desirable outcomes, investing in post-release activities is essential.
These include marketing, selling, and service of your MVP. Let’s evaluate the successive post-launch plan components and their expenses.
Factor 1. MVP Marketing and Advertising
Marketing strategy for a startup or new product launches should be thought out beforehand. It is better to begin promoting your app at the earliest, even during the development stage.
The average cost of the MVP marketing campaign is typically $5000 per month. What does MVP marketing management involve?
The plan for MVP marketing depends on the product’s objectives and budget.
The most cost-efficient way to advertise your MVP is through inbound marketing, which is
- social media posts,
- blog posts,
- email newsletters,
- and networking.
Another promotion type is outbound marketing, which includes
- Facebook ads,
- Google Adwords, and Display Advertising,
- Cold outreach to promote content.
If the marketing budget is big enough, these highly effective tools can be used to reach a broader audience.
Also, the marketing campaign should be followed by analysis, collecting feedback, and testing by users. You need to monitor and assess the performance of your MVP in the market. Here are several metrics for review:
- the number of installs,
- daily/monthly active users,
- churn rate,
- the average duration of a user session,
- product-specific engagement metrics,
- sales and revenue,
- customer satisfaction rate.
It is important to identify what MVP features attract users and their problem solving. Thus, you should gather the opinion of your clients. The best way is to use websites like ProductHunt, Betalist, or Drift.
Factor 2. MVP Sales
When it comes to gaining the target audience and maximizing profit through an MVP, sales funnels are essential. Founders typically need an investment between $5000 and $10 000 to test the assumptions and find the right funnel.
Factor 3. Maintenance
App maintenance costs generally represent 20% of the initial MVP development budget. This cost is dependent upon the complexity of the MVP, the team’s expertise and the geographic location.
Maintaining an app involves a number of costs, including server fees ($15 – $20 per month), the price of APIs or integrations, technical support and the salary of developers, who will update the product and oversee improvements.
Notable Startups with MVPs
Uber: In 2009, Uber initially offered limo services in San Francisco.
Spotify: In 2010, Spotify had a basic product for streaming music.
Instagram: In 2010, Instagram released its app for photo sharing.
AirBnB: In 2008, AirBnB offered a few beds for rent in San Francisco.
Example of an MVP: Twitter
Twttr began as a free alternative to SMS services, inventing hashtags and enforcing a 140-symbol standard of messaging.
For a successful MVP, certain criteria should be met:
- Target a specific audience for testing business hypotheses,
- Focus on core features: for Twitter, many current features were not present in the original version.
Now, to develop an app similar to Twitter, a pricepoint of $50,000 is expected. Copying this product takes up to $250,000 and 3-6 months of development.
The choice to launch a Minimum Viable Product has led to Twitter becoming the second-largest social network with nearly 300 million active users.
Example of an MVP: Instagram
Back in 2010, Burbn was introduced to users as an app with features of check-in, sharing plans and photos, much like Facebook does.
They noticed, though, that only the photo sharing feature remained popular. Therefore, the company made a quick change and released Instagram.
It paid off – its growth rate was extraordinary, counting a million users every month. According to the founders, Instagram was created in just two months. In 2012, it was purchased by Facebook for a staggering $1 billion.
Now, it has over 600 million active users and still counting. Regarding the cost, the development of the Instagram-like app would cost around $100,000, and if you want something very complex, it can reach up to $300,000. The development period would vary between 3 and 6 months.
Example of an MVP: Amazon
In 1994, Amazon began as an online bookstore. Now, the tech giant has become the most powerful and valued company in the world.
Bezos conducted extensive market research before narrowing down the list of 12 products to the 5 most profitable: CDs, computers’ soft and hardware, books, and video content.
Example of an MVP: Dropbox
The success of Amazon is a testament to the efficiency of focusing on a specific niche; entrepreneurs can use this example to develop their own MVP to potentially become a tech giant.
The founders of Dropbox, Arash Ferdowsi, and Drew Houston, were two of the smartest people on earth. To showcase how the online file syncing idea would work, they created a video instead of jumping into making an app. This action turned out to be one of the best decisions as the video acquired 70k signups from an informed audience. With a minimum investment, they created a master software.
To give the viewers a better glimpse of what Dropbox is about, here’s an original video created by them:
Example of an MVP: Uber
When Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick were planning to launch a cab service, instead of going for full-fledged development they chose to first test their product in the San Francisco area with just an iPhone app plus an additional SMS booking feature.
This MVP would become the launching pad for Uber’s global success.
Timeline for MVP Development
The development timeline for an MVP is directly tied to the budget. And budget directly determines the number of features to be created. Remember: time won’t wait!
There are numerous variables that determine the complexity of an application:
- the platform – web, mobile, or hybrid app,
- the number of app roles,
- the number and complexity of features,
- iOS-based or Android-based development and so on.
Therefore, properly defining project requirements and milestones are essential to testing and validating the idea quickly. As the speed of your adaptations to changes will likely determine your success in beating any competitors.
Typically, MVP development requires 1-2 months of effort. This encompasses the full development cycle, from initial business analysis to ongoing product maintenance.
Building the final product usually takes between 6 and 12 months.
Aim to keep the time between updates as short as possible. Developers usually have 1-2 week iterations. That’s sufficient to add and test the new features to launch your MVP in a good shape.
Entrust Us With Building Your MVP
At Web Help Agency, we specialize in creating MVPs for early-stage startups. Our ambition is to produce products that succeed in the real market, so that founders can entice investors and rapidly expand their enterprises.
The cornerstone of our model is the look-ahead approach. We focus on building a comprehensive product with powerful market penetration. To do so, we always initiate an in-depth business examination, including a survey of the target areas, rivalry analysis, and consumer research.
Check out a few of our accomplishments:
- MyWishApp – a mobile application that revolutionizes gifting, created with a sophisticated scrapping integration.
- Connexzion – a web tool that increases sales for eCommerce and marketplaces with a personal touch.
- DocKids – a web and mobile platform for telemedicine.
So, if you’re determined to roll-out a product that brings true value to your existing, potential, and current customers, give us a shout. We’ll offer a free analysis and consultation on MVP development.
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