How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mobile App MVP?
MVP stands for ‘minimum viable product’, which is shorthand for a working prototype that includes all of the ‘must-haves’ that your final version will include. As such, it gives you a chance to gather useful information from users about how they interact with it. It lets you try out new features, uncovers unexpected problems, and more, all before you’ve committed yourself to full production.
MVPs are considered best practice now, and it’s easy to see why. Getting everything right before rollout can save you a lot of time and money, because app production is not typically quick and cheap. Building your release could easily take six months and see you burn through $150,000, and if he didn’t start with a minimum viable product you might get to the end of that period and suddenly discover that it doesn’t do what you initially hoped it would. Or you could find that it’s exactly what you’d hoped it would be but there’s no market for it, or that it needs different features, or fewer features, or something else.
That’s why the MVP route represents good business sense and why it’s proved so popular among startups. From an investor’s point of view, spending $10,000 over 1–2 months to test your idea and make sure that it works looks like responsible stewardship; more so than spending six months and $150k with your fingers crossed.
So, the main advantages of creating an MVP compared to working towards a full product are:
- it’s cheaper
- it’s less risky
- user feedback helps you shape a more marketable final version
- greater investor confidence
Before you green light your application MVP, you’ll need to have a comprehensive marketing strategy already laid out. You’ll also need to know what essential features your app needs, and ideally, you’ll have a team in place with the tools they need to execute your vision.
If you’ve already been through this process, then your experience and understanding may be enough to let you approach it with confidence. If not, then you can eliminate the guesswork by consulting a specialist.
Let’s take a look at what options you have to create a mobile app MVP.
The DIY Approach
You could build an app yourself, coding it from scratch, or you could try one of the many specialized tools that are now available, such as these:
If you don’t know how to write code, this visual programming tool will feel like a gift from above. Bubble can add functionality to your app, essentials like sending emails, processing credit card payments, logging in to Facebook, connecting to APIs, creating a database, and so on.
You can upload your designs and set up clickable areas on your prototype, then download it as a mobile app that users can navigate around as if it were the real thing.
Axure lets users quickly build mobile app or website prototypes with zero investment and development costs. It comes with numerous native iOS and Android widgets and controls for more robust native app prototypes.
A full-stack development platform with a drag-and-drop interface that’s used to simultaneously create iPhone and Android apps. It comes with plenty of templates to get you going or you can start with your own ideas. When you’re done designing you can easily integrate a database into the back end for information storage and retrieval, and Configure.IT lets you preview your MVP mobile app on various mobile devices and can also help you deploy the final version.
The beauty of doing it yourself this way is that if you have the time and the skills you can spend anything from a few hours to a few days to get one or more prototypes up and running and it may only cost you $30.
Find a Partner Who Understands Coding
If you go this route, then you have to be prepared to pay your new co-founder in equity, but don’t give too much away. Coding skills shouldn’t cost you more than 15–20% of your business.
The direct approach would be to hire a developer or software engineering company to create your MVP. If you do, you’ll be looking to employ them at an hourly rate or for a fixed project fee. A typical MVP app project will take between two and four months to complete, so if someone wants to charge you $50 an hour, then 40 hours a week gives you a $2000 a week in total, or around $8000 a month. But the thing to bear in mind with this approach is that the lower the cost per hour, the less autonomous the team. You may be paying them less, but you’ll spend more time managing them. More expensive hourly rates buy you professionals who you can trust to self-manage.
Hourly rates might be suitable for some jobs, but if the scope of your project grows then they can quickly snowball. That’s why a fixed fee for the entire project can end up being more economical and help you manage the project more effectively. You’ll have a clear idea of what you’re going to spend, how long it will take, and how your final product will look.
MVP development follows these basic steps:
- map out your idea for the app
- develop the prototype
- release it, which may require more expense
- test it, which may also require more expense
- learn from user data and compare it to your initial idea
Your app has a better chance of succeeding if you start with an idea that’s been professionally validated and an MVP that’s been professionally designed.
Finance PM has the expertise and experience to analyze your big idea before you commit to it. They can save you time and money by assessing your initial hypothesis for marketability, giving you and your investors the insights that will let you move forward with confidence. Get in touch here to start your journey.
Strebkov Design has been developing successful fintech prototypes (and final versions) for more than a decade, with many customers coming back time and time again. Schedule your no-obligation meeting to turn your great idea into an app that works as well as it looks.