To prepare this article, we consulted two full-stack developers and a DevOps engineer who were all part of the dedicated teams that collaborated on startup MVP development for several Wise clients. Our aim with this publication was to prepare a handy collection of insights our team received working with real businesses and addressing new challenges in the post-covid environment.
The key idea we would like to communicate is that there is no best or right technology stack that would suit any tech product type, be it a mobile app, web application, or SaaS product. If you see this type of narrative in the title or introduction of the article, podcast, or video tutorial, you can freely skip it, as they would be misleading. The truth is, the one-fits-all approach is elusive and there is no right or best. Though there are criteria to consider, jobs to be done, people to involve in the process, as well as mistakes to avoid along the way. We’ll focus on these aspects in this blog.
Prior to starting any considerations related to the technologies you will use, make sure you’ve developed the right MVP mindset and have a clear understanding of what you’re about to build and, most importantly, why.
The key ideas you might want to keep in mind:
Furthermore, let’s define what is meant by tech stack for the startup MVP development. A technology stack is a combination of tools your in-house or outsourced engineering team will use to create a web, mobile, or cross-platform application. There are usually the client-side (front-end) and server-side (back-end) parts. Tech stack can consist of a variety of tools, services, frameworks, and programming languages. The mix is unique to each specific project and should be assembled based on the requirements and business context of each product separately. Of course, you can delegate the technology choices to your tech partners, but there is no harm in understanding the basic principles of how this process should be done efficiently.
Here’s how we approach the tech stack architecture for the Wise Engineering clients and our in-house startup products.
What technology is the best to build a web application? This is a type of question we strongly advise you to avoid. To define the unique mix of technologies for MVP app development, your engineering team should have the mockups in front of them, and the discussion should begin with the following questions:
All of the aspects above can be broken down into two major categories:
When it comes to MVP engineering, the non-functional requirements will influence the tech stack choices most of all. Because there are numerous options of how you can realize different features, and, at the same time, when there are high requirements towards security, maintainability, app scalability, and similar, the options range will narrow down significantly.
In 74% of cases, premature scaling leads to startup failure. Let’s define what is meant by premature scaling or over-engineering.
MVP over-engineering happens when a product acquires more features and advanced setups that the business really needs at the MVP development step. This further leads to the situation when a company's revenue from new users acquisition is lower than the cost of maintaining the system itself. The understanding that, before everything, you create an MVP to build a profitable business and a tech stack only gets you there helps not to fall into the premature scaling trap.
When engaged in MVP development services for startups, the key suggestions we give our clients are the following:
This, of course, does not mean that the tech stack you select should be simplistic or clunky. Your engineering team should keep the high coding standards and build a system that addresses the business challenges you face and help you achieve your long-term goals.
There is always a temptation to add one more option or more customization to the existing functionality. Yet, for the MVP development step, this is the point where you start to lose focus. To enhance or expand any feature, you need clear and continuous feedback from the audience that they really need it. If the idea to add more functionality belongs to anyone from the team, think twice before adding the task to a backlog.
When the Wise team deals with the MVP development, we focus on building minimum marketable user flow exclusively. Minimum marketable user flow is the simplest feature set that reflects the unique selling proposition of the future product. This is a predefined user flow that allows testing the product from start to the desired state, yet lacks multiple options of how this state can be achieved. We usually have the additional flows documented, but our primary focus never shifts.
We described how to generate a minimum marketable user flow for an MVP development in one of our earlier blog posts.
Developing and deploying an app constantly and at a fast pace is an integral part of the MVP development process. A DevOps engineer enrolled in the team at the initial steps will set the grounds for an efficient Infrastructure as a Code environment and help your engineering team move along the project roadmap smoothly. The base that will be set at this step will help avoid rearranging the overall system once the scaling is required. DevOps engineers help you think long-term and plan the product architecture for further development and minimize the risk your system will be unable to perform later.
The key task for DevOps at this stage is to allow the product and engineering teams to react flexibly towards the feedback they receive launching an MVP. DevOps engineer is responsible for:
Learn how we arranged the product architecture when launching auctions and events marketplace from the case study.
Teams dealing with startup launches understand that time-to-market is a vital metric and do everything to reduce it. Still, sparing engineering time by neglecting the aspect of product documentation will negatively impact the development speed soon after new people start joining the team.
A good practice is to start product documentation at the tech stack selection step. You can include the following information:
This information will be useful for every new member of the project and save time on R&D steps if similar issues arise again.
At Wise, we are very attentive to product documentation, yet always define a reasonable time to create it. We also recommend keeping up the fast development pace with the efficient environment for code deployment, focusing on user flow that communicates unique product value and not by keeping all the information in the minds of people currently working on the project.
Analytics is at the core of the overall MVP idea. You build a minimum viable product to test your hypothesis which is impossible without relevant data collection.
Before starting any steps with MVP planning we always suggest our clients define success factors for their MVP – unique KPIs for their particular business context. These could be both quantitative and qualitative metrics, and it is important to share them with the whole team. From our experience, when everyone involved is aware of the success KPIs and understands the goal behind the MVP step, the team collaborates on the project more effectively.
One of the Wise clients developed an effective approach to MVP creation based on the target audience’s feedback. The team involved the predefined focus group in the evaluation process right from the start. Learn how we developed an MVP for an all-in-one fitness chain platform and learn how the team worked with the focus group’s feedback from the case study. Another our client was using the Mixpanel service very actively to see at what steps we lose a potential client and react iteratively on the UX improvements.
Thus, when you decide what defines your MVP success, collaborate with your tech team to include analytics services in your tech stack.
Communication might be the least expected aspect in the article about the tech stack for MVP, however, from our 15 years experience of launching MVPs for E-commerce, EdTech, Media & Entertainment, and other industries, effective communication contributes to the overall project success.
By effective communication, we mean both communication inside the engineering team, as well as communication between counterparts involved – founders, stakeholders, and investors.
Inside the tech team, the decisions on the chosen tech stack should be well communicated and discussed across back-end, front-end, and DevOps parts. And as was stated above, the decisions should be documented. Besides, the people on the client-side should be also well aware of the tech choices. They might not need to be part of the technology evaluation process, but they should receive a summary of what tech stack was chosen and, most importantly, why, and what the alternatives are.
At Wise, we adopted the client-team approach to communication which helps our client reach out to anyone from the dedicated team. This helps to set an effective communication loop at the step of tech stack selection and ensure efficient collaboration when the MVP development iterations start. Read more about the new communication model in software development outsourcing we apply to the collaboration with our client.
To architecture a tech stack that will benefit you MVP and allow you to make the most from this product development step, we recommend:
At Wise Engineering, we are fluent in different technologies across multiple domains. Check out the tech stacks we usually apply for MVP development for startups and contact us to get tech stack consultation and estimates for your project.