How to Develop Custom Minimum Viable Product [MVP] App?

Hi Startuppers, previously we shared some tips regarding app launching. Today, we would like to highlight the difference between original development and Lean Startup-based custom MVPs.

A major part of app owners is looking for the “first app version”. What is more, the first app version is considered custom MVP. They think “I have a great idea. Oh, I will launch the app, then will put $5 per download, and will generate a lot of profit after. Sure, I need to make some promotion…” etc. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t take into account that their app, their “child” needs anyone in this cruel world. If there is no plan of how to get to the market, your “child” would be stillborn.

We need to explain what is MVP and what custom MVP means quite often. It is not NBA-related “Most Valuable Player” and it is not “Model View Presenter”. It is a Wikipedia MVP meaning in Product Development.

How to Build Custom Minimum Viable Product [MVP] App?
Why and What should be in the MVP?

Why and What should be in the custom Minimum Viable Product?

To show you the difference between the first app version and custom MVP in lean startup app development, let’s take an idea of a restaurant review-based app. What are the main points of such an app? It is not enough just to create it. As you can meet a chicken and egg issue. You would have a small list of users from one side. And restaurant owners who don’t want to fill out forms and update profile info.

So, the main efforts should be on getting the first users who are in search of such an app (innovators). As for the places, we can take their info by ourselves and add it to the app as it is available to anyone. What is more, you don’t need to waste the time by visiting every place, negotiating with the owners, and getting some funds for promotion — let’s keep this task for the later app version.

We would suggest testing your idea-based custom MVP in your city. Why? There should be people who would like to leave feedback about the places and check the rating before visiting any. If you couldn’t find such people you need to be lost in thought: “Are your audience interested in such an app?”. The only exception to this rule is if you are living in the middle of nowhere or somewhere in Tibet: monks don’t often visit restaurants.

Why start locally? map with pin. you are launched

Why start locally?

So, why do we suggest starting with your own city for your Minimum Viable Product? Sure, you can spend dozens of thousands to be promoted in Super Bowl but are you sure you can afford such a promotion?


— Eric Ries

We agree with Eric. According to Lean methodology, there is a need in testing ideas and hypotheses systematically. It is better to waste a couple of thousands and understand that the world does not need your “child” rather than lose hundreds of thousands and come to the same conclusion. This is the main point why do we suggest concentrating your efforts on one city with enough restaurants and people who are visiting them.

what to work on. urlaunched

What to work on?

We can work on attracting users to our Minimum Viable Product after getting all the places’ data. You would say, “my users are every person”. Yes, you are right, but all users are divided into categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. So, for the first step, we need to concentrate our efforts, even app features, on these innovators. Let’s assume that our innovators are girls who are hunting guys with big wallets. So, “where we can find them” and “how to attract their attention to our app”. Let’s say, they are using Instagram and Snapchat. They should be keeping an eye on such groups as “stylish accessories”, “fashion shoes”, “I’m princes”, etc. Let’s get in touch with them, simply send the link to our app presentation, and ask for their opinion. If we receive 20–30% of positive feedback you can make sure this will work.

Now, we can start on the development part. Here is the difference between MVP and the first app version:

Comparing Minimum Viable Product and Original App Development

Let’s go through the spreadsheet in detail:

Feature Estimate comparison Minimum Viable Product vs original app. urlaunched
  • Depending on your country’s launch and Audience, we suggest concentrating on a single platform. This would allow saving approximately 30-40% of the required efforts on your initial custom MVP launch;
  • We also suggest keeping Standard Email registration/login and adding Social Authorization. In this case, you would be able to save time and money and still provide users with the possibility to get into it. As an alternative, we can swap between Social Authorization and Standard Email. As a rule, the choice is based on the Audience and Idea;
  • We won’t have a lot of users at first so we don’t need to leave feedback and comments on features. The main is to test the idea and our killer feature; there should not be login and registration as there is no required feature for this (comments, personal discount system, etc);

even more

  • Admin Panel = we don’t need to use Custom Server Side. Yes, a lot of apps have Cloud Based Servers, such as Firebase or AWS. However, we can store all data inside the user’s device to launch the app faster and save a couple of thousands on development. What is more, we are testing an idea for now. You can’t use this variant all the time, as the app size would be growing and it would not be comfortable to update any info. The other point is that you won’t be able to use “comments” & “feedback” after too;
  • Analytics = this is your eyes and your ears in the app. The more you know about user behavior in the launched custom MVP more attractive you can make the app for them. So, that is your number one feature to have;
  • Unique feature = any app should have this to light you up among your competitors. Everything should be built around this uniqueness.

Note, it is better to work on a custom MVP once you’ve sorted out the Product/Market Fit.

conclusion. you are launched


Sure, the app can have discount cards, coupons, and a lot of animations. However, these features are not highly required for your minimum valuable product. FOCUS ON YOUR MAIN FEATURE: your app should solve your user’s problem! Don’t focus on side features. If your app solves real issues you would have users even without great UI and animation. Do you know Craigslist? Do you like its design? So, FOCUS ON PEOPLE’s PROBLEMS. It should be your mantra.


— Paul Graham

Don’t know where to start with your MVP? We prepared the document to fill out and share with your potential technical partner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the significance of developing a custom Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the context of Lean Startup methodology?

The custom MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is crucial for startups as it represents the initial version of their app. In the Lean Startup approach, it serves as a strategic tool to test ideas systematically before a full-scale launch.

How does the Lean Startup method differentiate between the first app version and a custom MVP?

Many app owners often mistake the first app version for a custom MVP. The distinction lies in understanding that, without a plan to reach the market, even a great app idea can be unsuccessful. The custom MVP, following Lean principles, involves a disciplined approach to testing new products and ideas.

Why is starting locally recommended when developing a Minimum Viable Product?

According to the Lean Startup method, the focus is on speed rather than cost. It’s better to systematically test ideas in a smaller, local market before investing significant resources. This approach prevents wasting large sums on promotion that may not be effective.

How should efforts and features be concentrated on in the early stages of a custom MVP?

Concentrating efforts on specific user categories, such as innovators, is key. For instance, the article suggests targeting specific groups through platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, tailoring features to attract the innovators who are crucial for initial success.

What are the key features to prioritize when developing a custom MVP?

The article suggests focusing on a single platform, incorporating standard email registration/login with the option for social authorization, and prioritizing analytics as the eyes and ears of the app. The emphasis is on testing the core idea and unique features rather than extensive functionalities.

How does the custom MVP development approach differ from creating the first app version in terms of technical aspects?

Technical aspects include choosing a single platform, deciding between social authorization and standard email login, avoiding extensive user feedback features initially, and considering a lightweight approach for server-side storage during the testing phase.

What is the role of analytics in the custom MVP development process?

Analytics serves as a crucial element, providing insights into user behavior during the initial custom MVP launch. This information helps in making the app more attractive to users by understanding their preferences and interactions.

Why is it essential to focus on solving real user problems rather than incorporating numerous features in the custom MVP?

The mantra suggested is to “focus on people’s problems.” The article emphasizes that solving real issues is more important than having a feature-rich app. It cites the example of Craigslist, which succeeded by addressing users’ needs despite having a simple design.

Is there a specific point in the startup journey when it’s recommended to work on a custom MVP?

The article suggests working on a custom MVP once the startup has sorted out the Product/Market Fit. This ensures that the MVP is developed with a clear understanding of the target audience and their needs.

Where can one find guidance on starting their MVP?

The article provides a prepared document to fill out and share with potential technical partners, offering a structured guide for those unsure of where to begin with their MVP.

What tools are better to use for your app promotion we already wrote here. Also, check a fresh article to encourage yourself: 20 Myths About Custom MVP App Development: Busted

I Hope, it is much clear for you and you would be able to explain the custom MVP definition to anyone now. If you still have questions about the article or you have your own idea of the “next big thing” drop us a line and we would be pleased to support you

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