In this article, we'll share our top tips from founders for making the most of your MVP and setting the stage for even greater success.
What the books say
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) launch is a pivotal moment for any startup. After months or even years of hard work, the moment has finally arrived to unveil your product to the world. But what comes next?
Let’s have a quick tour! For starters, you should prioritize gathering and analyzing user feedback. This is crucial for understanding what's working well and what's not. Based on this feedback, startupers can iterate on the MVP and make changes and improvements. Next, it's time to start scaling the product and expanding to new markets by increasing the number of users and building out the team. At the same time, it's important to start thinking about revenue and experimenting with different pricing models. Such a large load of tasks, huh?
But it's not all about the product. After an MVP launch, you should also focus on building relationships with potential customers and partners and start to build a community around your product. Additionally, tracking key performance metrics is essential, as it helps you understand how the product is performing and identify areas for improvement.
Finally, it's essential to start planning for the next phase. This means thinking about what new features will be added, what new markets will be expanded to, and what new partnerships will be pursued. Keep in mind that the MVP launch is just the first step and that it's important to be flexible and adapt as new information becomes available. With these considerations in mind, let's move further and dive into real-world lessons for product development.
Beyond the theory: real-world lessons for product development
The journey of developing a product is filled with twists and turns. To help you navigate the road ahead, we've gathered the six stories of startup founders who have been there and done that. From the initial launch of their MVP to the ongoing process of product development, these founders share valuable insights and lessons they've learned along the way.
Don't ever beat yourself up for dropping a product too early
Sometimes, the best course of action is to get your product in front of users as soon as possible, even if it's not quite ready for prime time. And never, NEVER be hard on yourself for ending a product's development prematurely. Take it from Brandyn Morelli, founder of Grapevine, who won Product of the Week on Product Hunt with a half-baked MVP. He knows from experience:
"Once we launched, it became clear to me that the goal was more about getting users to see how this product could work in their current workflow than trying to show off a flashy new product. We had signups coming in droves, and they immediately “got it”. We didn’t have to explain or try to educate on how the product worked. From this experience, we felt we made the right call in launching early, gain feedback, and then work on rapid development to fix any gaps you missed or anything that was still half-baked."
Be on standby to answer comments as they come in
When launching a new product, the feedback you receive can be invaluable in helping you improve and grow. Whether it's positive or negative, it's all helpful and unique information. Moreover, it not only helps to build a loyal customer base but also creates a sense of community around your product:
"When comments start to come in for your launch, make sure to address them as quickly as possible. We found most comments were overwhelmingly positive, but as always, some people come in just to chop you down. Don’t get defensive, but reply and acknowledge their problem/concern with how your product addresses (or will address) their issue."
Don't fall for the free product trap
When it comes to launching a new product, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that offering it for free will attract more users. But as it turns out, that strategy can backfire. Based on feedback, many people assume there must be a catch when something is offered for free, such as the company collecting and selling their data.
John Wheal, the founder of Grouphub, learned this lesson the hard way. He initially offered a free plan, only to discover that it caused more skepticism than attraction among potential users. He explains:
"I had assumed that having a free product would cause people to flock to use it. But as it turns out, that strategy had the opposite effect. Consumers are not stupid. They know that something cannot be free forever."
Tigran Hakobyan, the senior software engineer at Netflix and the founder of Cronhub, had a similar experience. He switched from offering a free plan to offering three reasonable plans and saw a significant increase in revenue and sustainable growth for his business. He says:
"For a year, I don’t support any free plan. We have three affordable plans for all developers and teams, with custom packages for users who need a plan designed for their needs. This decision led to growth into a sustainable side-project with a ~$1100 monthly recurring revenue (MRR)."
In short, free products can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to attracting users. It's important to consider the potential downsides of offering a free plan and be transparent about your business model. As these examples from John Wheal and Tigran Hakobyan show, switching to affordable paid plans can lead to sustainable growth and revenue for your business.
It's also worth to grandfather existing free users, so they can still use the product for free. This will help to maintain a user base, which can be beneficial in the long run. And always remember, it's essential to evaluate feedback, assumptions and come with a better strategy that aligns with your business goals.
Comprehensive marketing strategy is a key
One of the most biggest challenges after MVP launch is putting together a comprehensive marketing strategy that will help you reach your target audience and generate leads. Here are some valuable tricks from Kaloyan Yankulov, product creator and marketer, who launched, marketed and sold his first SaaS HeadReach:
"When I launched my MVP, I knew that I had to get creative with my marketing efforts. One of the channels I used was email list, which had 500 subscribers. I knew that these people were already interested in what I had to offer, so I made sure to keep them in the loop about my new product. In addition to email marketing, I also leveraged Facebook groups. I sent out long messages and personalized videos that resonated well with my target audience. These efforts were highly effective and helped me generate leads quite quickly and for free.
Another channel I used was direct outreach marketing to influencers. I sent cold emails and direct messages to key influencers in my industry, and I was able to build relationships with some of them and as a result, get my product in front of a wider audience."
The results of his strategy were telling: in the first 24 hours of marketing the MVP, HeadReach achieved 15 paying customers, 20 lists, and around $400 in revenue. Kaloyan Yankulov adds: “While we underpriced our lists which ultimately cost us more money than we made in the validation process, as a side effect, one of the top SEO players hired me to create an outreach list for him which brought another $200 in revenue”
Overall, you can see that a well thought-out marketing strategy is essential to the success of an MVP launch. By using a combination of different channels and personalized messaging, founder of HeadReach was able to generate leads and revenue quickly, which helped him validate the product and move forward with confidence.
Find someone to challenge your decisions
As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of scaling your project. But when it comes to developing a product, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Especially if you’re the only person on the project. That's why having someone to challenge your decisions can be so valuable. John Wheal, founder of Grouphub, agrees with us:
"I'll admit, I've advised other startups on creating MVPs, but when it came to creating one for my own startup, I found myself struggling. It's a humbling realization that even those of us who think we have it all figured out can benefit from a fresh perspective."
But it's not just about having someone to challenge your decisions, it's about having someone who can bring different expertise and viewpoints. A second opinion can help identify gaps in your thinking and can also help keep you accountable and on track.
So, don't be afraid to reach out to others for help. Whether it's a mentor, a colleague, or an advisor, having someone to challenge your decisions can be the key to taking your startup to the next level.
Pay people to solve a problem, not for a specific task
As entrepreneurs, we're always looking for ways to streamline our processes and maximize efficiency. But sometimes, our solutions can create more problems than they solve. The same thing happened with John Wheal, founder of Grouphub:
"I learned this the hard way when I came up with what I thought was the perfect solution to a problem: paying people to do menial tasks that were cheaper to outsource than to develop software for. At first, it seemed like a great idea, but I soon discovered that it created new problems. Not only were other people left waiting when I put off tasks, but I also underestimated the time it took to write instructions. In some cases, it would have been quicker to just do the task myself.
Only then that I realized what I really needed people with decision-making powers. Instead of paying someone for a specific task, I should have been paying them to solve a problem. This shift in mindset helped me to realize the true value of having a dedicated team that can think critically and make informed decisions."
So, next time you're looking for a solution to a problem while scaling a product, take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Rather than outsourcing tasks, invest in a team that can help you solve problems and make smart decisions. It might just be the key to unlocking your startup's true potential. At Flexum, we've got a wealth of experience working with startups, and we're always happy to help out. If you've got a question or need some advice, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We're here to assist you in any way we can.
Well, that's a wrap! Our journey through the best ways to make your MVP even better has come to an end. Hopefully, these real-life examples from startup founders will help you make your product developing easier and more successful. Cheers to your success, friend!