Entrepreneurs share how long their MVP ACTUALLY took to launch

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Blog

Blair Hirst

Blair Hirst

Founder of Digital Health Review

Digital Health Review’s MVP is currently live and actively getting used after almost 18 months in the making.
When I first had the business idea, my approach to building the MVP was broken down so much that it took a long time for me to find the right audience and for my audience to understand what DHR had to offer.
The difficulty there was that without a consistent directional path, I had a lot of false starts in messaging and therefore not a lot of traction.
Once I finally started building alongside my user’s feedback, DHR has developed into a useful tool to empower folks to better manage their healthcare with the use of tech.
What I thought I could build in 6 months from scratch took much longer but it’s been worth the journey.
Digital Health Review

Hilton Giesenow

Hilton Giesenow

Founder of ChitChattr

I bootstrapped TeamMate, so the budget wasn’t fixed and it was all my own time, but it took about 4 times as long as planned.
Aside from Covid (making plans…), I found that apps are vetted quite heavily, both for quality (bugs) and functionality (enough value to be listed in the store), so an “MVP” has to have a much higher bar than we’d originally planned.
ChitChattr

Allison Hartsoe

Allison Hartsoe

CEO of Ambition Data

We built and launched our first customer analytics product, “Rubano” in October 2020.
The original plan was formulated in February 2020, and then we went through a series of left-turns as we worked to find the right product launch process as well as product market fit at the same time.
I thought we would launch in late August, but we were still coding into September with no real end in sight.
I finally drew a line in the sand by declaring a launch date in early October, and that created the official MVP definition.
In other words, if it couldn’t be done by the launch date then it was not part of the MVP.
In the end, we spent about 2.3x more than we expected.
I wish I had known then to expect 20-30 revisions on the product. I would have set up a series of monthly release dates to build in a more agile, responsive system rather than try to push for a more perfect solution.
Ambition Data

John Milinovich

John Milinovich

CEO of Aesthetic

It took us 1 month longer than expected to build our MVP.
Originally, we scoped our MVP release to have a very narrow number of features so that we could really hone in on the end user value that we were trying to create.
We scrutinized this feature list for hours as a team before committing to the scope.
In parallel to our development efforts we also began testing our hypothesis with users and realized that there were some critical features missing from our original planned MVP scope.
After collecting this feedback and discussing further as a team, we decided to expand the original feature set that we had agreed to in hopes that the MVP wouldn’t just skirt by with users, but would really make an impact on them.
Fortunately, it was well worth it.
When we got this expanded version of our MVP in front of our first users, they were delighted!
Time and time again we heard feedback that the features that we added in scope were not just niceties, but they made the entire user experience!
Aesthetic

Jose Ig. Andres

Jose Ig. Andres

Founder & CEO of Nailted

As a technical founder, when I faced the Nailted’s MVP I desperately tried to avoid my own bias of going directly to build things, so I decided to use Google Spreadsheets and some macros to create a working prototype.
It took me only two days to put everything together with zero cost in services.
Just my hourly rate during this two days.
We acquired the project’s first customer with while still running on gsheets and, of course, everything within the budget.
Nailted

Miles Gotcher

Miles Gotcher

Founder of Soov

Developing our MVP was a wild ride and took about six months longer than originally planned.
Soov is a stomach soothing drink meant to be a healthier alternative to ginger ale with 80% less sugar, real ginger juice, and other ingredients that support digestion.
I left my full time job in January of 2020 after developing a commercial formula and having suppliers for ingredients, manufacturing, cans, boxes, etc.
I felt certain I had everything I needed lined up.
Then a couple months in COVID hits, causing delays for every vendor I worked with.
When everything finally reached the manufacturer, another crazy event happened: a truck accident.
While transporting their canning equipment, the truck trailer carrying it unhitched and fell into a ravine, destroying everything.
Thankfully no one was hurt but canning Soov was now out of the picture.
Already being delayed, I was devastated and really starting to question starting the business.
Thankfully, after a few weeks of persistence searching for a new manufacturer, we found another not too far away.
A few months later Soov was finally in cans and the online launch was a big success, selling way more cases than I forecasted.
Now we’re talking to stores and distributors and things seem to be trending really well!
Soov

Aviram K

Aviram K

Founder of Woof & Beyond

Based on my own experience building many MVPs, they rarely finish on time.
As a developer, you can never exactly predict the types of problems you’ll encounter, especially if the MVP is a unique one.
I have come up with a pretty on-point formula for the time it takes: Take the time the developer says he’ll need to complete the MVP and multiply that by 2 or 3.
If you have multiple teams working on that MVP, or there is some kind of non-trivial coordination, multiply the previous amount by another 2 or 3.
That would usually result in the amount of time it really takes to complete (assuming the developer knows what he’s doing).
As for the budget – since we usually go over the original estimated time by a factor of at least 2 or 3, the budget needed an increase by roughly the same amount.
Woof & Beyond

Tomas Formanek

Tomas Formanek

CEO of Inventoro

Our results are that we ended with MVP one month later than initially planned but with the same budget as was in the beginning.
We planned to be on the market as soon as possible, and that is the main reason we didn’t catch any longer delay.
I would like to share with you one probably the most important lessons learned from this project.
In every project is that moment when you realize that you are in trouble and have no chance to hit the originally planned milestone.
We were there, of course.
At this moment, we decided to cut the scope. We had more than three iterations about this scope cutting.
In the end, there was this magical moment where we totally understood what should be in the scope and what shouldn’t be.
And now guess what is happening with functionalities from this out of scope bag.
Yes, you know the answer already. Nothing.
We never return to these tickets.
From this perspective, this is one of the best decisions we made last year.
In these moments like this, when you have to really pick the most important features for customers, trust your intuition, and try never to come back to what was cut.
Inventoro

Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey

President of WikiLawn

We’ve been working on getting a companion app for our site to market.
All projections anticipated the app as being ready in the fall of 2020, and we banked on that in marketing materials.
At the time that was even a generous estimate. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet that due to a variety of factors.
The biggest was COVID. That disrupted our plans significantly, of course.
Our app is designed around connecting people with local landscapers, and when businesses aren’t open, they don’t need landscaping.
We had to reassess our launch window and how much we could afford to invest in this app versus trying to pivot for the sake of staying afloat.
We definitely had to do the latter instead.
Outside of that, we definitely had to pare down the scope to get a viable product to market.
Our goals were ambitious but too lofty for an MVP.
WikiLawn

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Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.

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