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Apr 02, 2019

Factors Determining the Cost to Build a Minimum Viable Product

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Whether you are an aspiring digital entrepreneur or you are still dreaming of creating your own startup, the cost of an MVP is a question that has probably come to your mind.

This article contains answers that will guide you through the process of the MVP pricing. You’ll find out about the types of MVP, technology stack, team hiring and the decisions you’ll have to make on each step.

How to Price Your MVP?

At first glance, the disparity in MVP costs does not seem sane. MVP prices may vary from $5,000 up to $100,000. But there is a reason for this. MVP is a multi-faceted thing. And its pricing depends on the complexity of the app idea, the actual type of an MVP you want to make, the team involved, and other factors.

For a quick example, here’s a short overview of the most popular apps' MVP cost.

Types of MVPs

There are three basic types of minimum viable products.

1. A prototype

This is the very first thing that appears after you decide to create a product. Something to begin with. A prototype is an interactive mockup that shows how your future app would work. It’s not for the market launch purpose. But it does give an understanding of what kind of product is in your mind and whether it’s worth funding.

A prototype can be used mainly for pitching and to test your business idea against real demand. Instead of spending lots of money (that you might actually not yet have) on the grand full-featured app, you can use a simple interactive mockup. This can help you gain feedback from the potential users, as well as persuade investors to fund you. Or you can show it to the developers and discuss possible tech solutions for your idea. The prototype pricing starts from “do it yourself for free” to $5,000 depending on the project complexity.

2. A minimum viable product (MVP)

This one is way more complicated. This is a version of your product that contains the core features. No frills. Just the basic functionality required for the app to actually work. Your MVP is already a tool that people can use. Hence, it gives you valuable customer feedback earlier. Instead of a theoretical business hypothesis, you get to know what real users say. You can make important decisions on what to do next with your app: what features to add or remove, what funds you need for that, etc. Or you might see if your target audience was chosen correctly.

IT-specialists almost unanimously agree that it’s better to start with an MVP than to build a full-featured product at once. MVPs do not have any complex things that take months to develop. You have a simple working product you can launch right away. The minimum viable product pricing starts from about $10,000.

3. The first version of the product

If your MVP proved to be successful and you have your first users, you add the desired features and release the first product's version. It’s not perfect yet. But that’s ok. The product will gradually become more sophisticated. And you can improve it according to the user needs. The price for this kind of minimum viable product price may start from $40,000.

Sometimes it’s rather complicated to choose what to do. For example, whether you need a prototype or you can switch directly to MVP. Especially if your funds are limited. Give us a call and we can advise you on this.

Design and Development Cost of an MVP

The total MVP price may vary greatly. The cost roughly depends on the number of features in your product and its complexity. The trick is to find out what’s actually required. And what is only desirable.

You do this by studying your target audience and formulating business requirements. What problems do the users have? How can the app help them solve this problem? Are there any similar solutions that are already available on the market? What technical features are necessary for the start? How will the app differ from the competitors? So you elaborate a user journey that explains the functionality from the client’s point of view. This would clarify the required set of features for you and the development team.

Technology Stack

Here we come to one of the most crucial points. What technology or platform to choose? You should bear in mind that different technologies are used for different purposes. For example, for Android mobile app you would mostly use Java or Kotlin. For iOS – Objective-C or Swift. For e-commerce projects, one might opt for Magenta. If your project requires Data Science – select Python.

What also influences the price is that there are native and hybrid solutions. Native technology is made for a particular platform. Like Swift for iOS, Java for Android, .NET for Windows etc. A native stack is more complicated both to learn and to use. But it gives better quality in the end. The hybrid stack uses various ready-made web solutions and some part of a native stack. Thus it is faster and easier to use. Hence there’s a huge difference in prices.

Software developers usually charge an hourly rate. It also depends upon the complexity of technology. And sometimes geography.

If you feel lost in this variety and need professional advice, just talk to us. We can help you find what you are looking for and make the optimum choice for technology stack.

Development team

Three most obvious options are hiring a freelancer, an in-house pro, or taking a software development company as a contractor. Each option has its advantages and flaws. Let’s get a deeper look at every one of them.

Freelancers

Pros

  • This might be the cheapest option
  • You can speak with your developers personally and control everything

Cons

  • Some freelancers find it hard to keep terms
  • The budget may increase with the process
  • If something happens to your only one developer, the whole process is stuck
  • The danger of low-quality code is the highest

In-house developers

Pros

  • You can choose them yourself
  • You are able to build a hand-picked team
  • They are close to you most of the day

Cons

  • Additional costs for office and overall administration
  • If the project is not successful the whole effort goes in vain

A software development team that has MVP experience

Pros

  • They are professionals. They know what to do, when and why
  • You have access to their expertise. They really help you to make those complex choices on tech stack, functionality, etc.
  • Minimum tech-related risks. You can focus on promoting our app for example and other business and marketing issues.
  • Professional management ensures the smooth workflow which saves you both time and money

Cons

  • If a team has highly experienced professionals, it may seem more expensive than previous options. But that's because prices for freelance and in-house specialists start from the "inexperienced" level, and that creates the contrast.

So, How do You Finally Calculate the Minimum Viable Product Price?

When you hire a freelancer or an in-house team, the formula is the following: the number of people you need multiplied by hourly rate number multiplied by of hours required. But you take all the pros and cons into account.

For a 1 month project, it might look like this: 1 developer x $30 hourly rate x 160 (8 hours per 20 working days) = $4,800

If you partner with an experienced software development company, ask them to estimate the cost based on your requirements. Get a quote from them. Then you receive the actual amount for your purposes as well as time estimation.

Fill in a short application form and we will estimate the costs and time required for building your MVP.

Many of our startup clients have already received considerable funds with the MVPs we developed. The Gearheart software development company works only with the experienced developers. We focus on what is really important for the client, set out core functionality and get the first MVP in two weeks after the inquiry. We will be happy to work with you on your project or provide you with our advice.

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