It usually takes 6-12 months to build and release to app stores the first version of an app. However, placing apps in your customer’s hands earlier in the development process helps businesses determine customer interest prior to spending a lot of time and money up front.
Until now, businesses would hire a team of software developers to build the first version of an app, a Version 1 that includes all features customers might want. This approach is usually time-consuming (therefore, expensive) and risky, since the first customers to use the app may not have an opportunity to provide feedback about the user experience prior to the app’s launch on the Google Play and iTunes app stores.
At Keystoke, we’ve made building apps faster and more affordable by first developing a “minimum viable product,” a basic app that is ready for customer use, by focusing on the app’s core functions. Businesses spend less time and money upfront in order to release their product sooner and use the feedback from early adopters to ensure that they have a product/market fit.
I’ve built apps for corporations and startups for more than a decade. Along the way, I’ve learned firsthand that understanding the difference between a minimum viable product and a Version 1 is both important and misunderstood. An overwhelming number of businesses come to Keystoke after meeting with larger agencies that estimate it will cost at least 5 months and more than $100,000 to predict and plan an entire suite of features for a new app.
At Keystoke, we usually discover what the customer needs and give an estimate for a basic version in less than 6 weeks.
No two projects are exactly the same. We often have to work lovingly yet forcefully with new customers to refine the initial scope of work for their minimum-viable product. When we succeed with our customers in narrowing the app’s initial scope to the essentials, the end result is a scalable product that they quickly and relatively cheaply put in the palms of investors and early users. I welcome any feedback!
Sterling is the Founder of SandBoxCommerce and Keystoke. Sandbox Commerce was recently accepted into the U.T. McCombs Business School’s Texas Venture Labs Accelerator for Fall 2016. Sterling also spent a decade building apps for 3 Fortune 100 companies and several startups.