How to Build an MVP for SaaS
Right now, we’re living in exciting times for both startups and entrepreneurs. Technology has made it easier than ever to start a business and build a product from the ground up. And in that frenzy of discussions, people continue to say: you need to know how to build an MVP for your SaaS product.
However, this lower bar of entry can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can get a team together and start working on a product immediately. On the other, it’s too easy to get bogged down in the details and set yourself up for failure.
So, if you want to avoid the usual problems of creating a successful startup, you can look at the methods used by membership sites. We talk with Ward Sandler, founder and creator of Memberspace, about how he turned an idea into a success. Here is what we discovered.
Let Your Customers Drive Your Ideation Process
All startups dream about becoming the “next big thing.” A lot of talk has been thrown around in recent years surrounding brands like Uber and Airbnb, with “growth hacking” becoming the go-to term for businesses that blow up in popularity.
However, for every Uber, there are a thousand similar apps that failed to get off the ground. But why is that? Well, in most cases, it’s because the ones developing the app or product aren’t necessarily the ones who need it the most. And that tends to be a big “gotcha” when you think about how to build an MVP for your SaaS product.
Yes, you have a bunch of great ideas, but how are you validating them? What features and functionality are your users craving? What elements do they want that they can’t get anywhere else?
For Ward Sandler, it was a consistent request for adding a membership package to a website. As a site designer and consultant, Ward heard from his client about what features they needed. At the time, no one was offering a simple membership package solution, so he created his own.
This feedback loop drives how to build an MVP. You should also continue throughout your development, even after launch. Whenever you want to add a new feature or benefit, be sure to talk to your users about any specific pain points and how you can address them. A bonus feature that doesn’t add value is ultimately worthless.
Emphasize the Minimum When You Build an MVP for SaaS
Part of what makes research and development take so long is that startups believe that they have to have a full suite of features on launch. While that can be nice, it’s not necessary. Instead, focus on the core function of your product and let that be your foundation.
For example, with Memberspace, the site started with a simple solution – creating a program that forced visitors to sign up for a free account. No paywall, no tiered membership options, no analytics, just the one element. That simplicity is how Ward decided to move forward. He knew how to build an MVP for his SaaS product because he focused on the basics.
Once Ward and his team perfected that component, it was easier to add new features. With each addition, they went through a similar process. Now, they have dozens of functions to make the site more attractive to new customers.
You should take a similar approach. Distill your product or idea to its core component – what is the primary selling point? Build that until it works, then run beta testing to perfect it. Not only will this help you launch faster, but it will remove any potential setbacks along the way.
Cater to the Lowest Common Denominator
Another reason why startups can struggle is that they are building an app or product for tech-savvy individuals. While you do need to appeal to the early adopter crowd, you should have another demographic in mind – boomers.
Really, the idea is to make your product as simple and easy to understand as possible. Since the older generation can have trouble with new tech, they are an excellent resource for beta testing. If a boomer can understand what you’re offering and use the app correctly, then it will be foolproof. Even if you don’t think that older people or non-tech users will want your product, implementing this strategy will still help in the long run.
Bottom Line: Knowing Which Questions Need Answers Tells You How to Build an MVP
Overall, to be a successful startup, you need to know how to ask questions from your user base. Your ideas are valuable, but since you’re not the one buying the product, you need to solicit feedback from a broader selection of people. Your users will help you figure out how to build an MVP for your SaaS product. Then let your customers determine which elements should stay and which should be dropped. That process will lead to greater success.