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July 19, 2023

Mastering MVP Estimates: The Key to Successful Startups

Key Points


In the dynamic world of startups, the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has become a cornerstone. It's the first real-world version of your product, stripped down to its most essential features. The MVP serves as a powerful tool for gathering user feedback, validating assumptions, and laying the groundwork for future development. However, accurately estimating the cost and timeline of an MVP is a challenge that many startups grapple with. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to rely on an MVP estimate effectively.

Understanding the MVP

Before diving into estimates, it's crucial to understand what an MVP is and what it isn't. An MVP is not a half-baked, incomplete product. Instead, it's a version of your product that delivers enough value to attract early adopters and validate your business idea. It's about finding the balance between minimalism and value, ensuring that the product is viable enough to satisfy the early customers.

The Importance of Accurate MVP Estimates

Accurate MVP estimates underpin startup success by shaping development roadmaps, managing stakeholder expectations, and attracting funding. When these estimates miss the mark, consequences can be significant. Underestimation may lead to exceeded budgets and slipped schedules, creating friction within the team and eroding stakeholder trust. Conversely, overestimation could squander resources or forfeit opportunities due to over-caution or over-allocation. This underscores the cruciality of precision in MVP estimates. The estimate process should be meticulous and iterative, ensuring alignment between the MVP's scope and resources. Ultimately, accurate estimates foster effective resource utilization, timely product delivery, and stakeholder confidence, propelling startups towards their goals.

How to Create Reliable MVP Estimates

Creating reliable MVP estimates involves several steps:

1. Define the Scope: The first step in estimating an MVP is defining its scope. This involves identifying the core features that deliver the most value to your users. Remember, the goal is not to build a feature-rich product but to solve a problem for your users in the simplest way possible.

2. Break Down the Project: Once the scope is defined, break down the project into smaller, manageable tasks. This process, known as decomposition, makes the project easier to estimate and manage. Each task should be independent and deliver a specific outcome.

3. Estimate Each Task: Next, estimate the time and resources required for each task. This can be done using various techniques like analogous estimating (based on past similar projects), parametric estimating (using statistical relationships), or three-point estimating (considering the best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenario).

4. Validate the Estimate: After the estimates are made, validate them with your team. This involves checking if the estimates are realistic and achievable. It's also a good idea to factor in some buffer time for unforeseen challenges.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

While estimating an MVP, startups often fall into certain traps. Here are a few to avoid:

Overloading the MVP

One common mistake is overloading the MVP with too many features. This not only increases the development time and cost but also distracts from the core value proposition.

Ignoring the Market

Another pitfall is ignoring the market while estimating the MVP. Market factors like competition, user expectations, and technological trends can significantly impact the MVP's scope and timeline.

Neglecting Post-Launch Costs

Startups often focus so much on the development cost that they neglect the post-launch costs like marketing, customer support, and maintenance. These costs should be factored into the MVP estimate.


Accurate MVP estimates are more of an art than a science. They require a deep understanding of the product, market, and development process. However, with careful planning, realistic expectations, and continuous learning, startups can master the art of MVP estimates. This not only paves the way for a successful MVP launch but also sets the foundation for a sustainable business.

Remember, the journey of building a startup is filled with uncertainties. But as the saying goes, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." So, go ahead, create your MVP, and shape the future.

Macarena López Morillo
Head of People
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