6 ways to reduce MVP app development costs

13 min read
March 20, 2024

Building an MVP for your app is one of the best ways you can validate your idea and prove it has market potential.

The mobile app market is only getting more competitive and it’s expected to reach a value of $745.06 billion by 2032.

So, validating your idea is key if you want your app to succeed.

But, the cost of building an MVP can be an obstacle.

That’s why we’ll talk about the 6 ways you can reduce MVP app development costs and build the most cost-effective MVP.

Let’s dive in!

What is an MVP?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a stripped-down version of your app that includes only its core features.

It’s the ultimate idea validation tool that will show you if there’s genuine market demand for your app.

But, building an MVP isn’t just about putting together a working app and calling it a day.

It’s about creating a usable and appealing app that will resonate with your users and meet their needs.

MVP development approach

And you can build various types of MVPs, such as:

  • Single-feature MVP – As the name suggests, a single-feature MVP has only the main feature of your product and it’s one of the most common MVP types
  • Pre-order MVP – a pre-order MVP is when you take pre-orders and crowdfund before actually building your product
  • Wizard of Oz MVP – a Wizard of Oz MVP looks like a normal app, but the back-end is run manually by humans without the users knowing it
  • Fake door MVP – fake door MVPs are usually landing pages built to gauge market interest before building an MVP or prototype

In a nutshell, building an MVP is the best way to make sure the app you’re building can be successful in the market.

And that’s why it’s so popular.

How much does MVP app development cost?

Every MVP has unique requirements and the cost of building one can vary wildly.

So, there’s no universal answer – the best answer is “it depends.”

There’s a number of factors that will influence your MVP’s cost, such as:

  • Market research and idea validation costs
  • The features you include in the MVP
  • The complexity of the app
  • Size and experience of the development team
  • The tech stack

But, on average, it comes out to:

  • A simple MVP – $15,000-40,000$
  • A medium complexity MVP – $50,000-80,000$
  • A complex MVP – $100,000+

Now, you could make a really simple MVP for under $15,000 and call it a day.

But, if you do that, you’ll likely struggle to get a product-market fit.

That’s because quality matters.


Want to build an MVP?
Here’s how to build one your users will love.

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And a high-quality MVP for a simple app idea can easily cost over $40,000 to build.

Also, for complex enterprise-level apps just the MVP can cost over $250,000.

In short, there’s no easy way to pinpoint how much your app MVP will cost you.

Luckily, there are ways you can reduce your MVP app development costs.

Top ways to reduce MVP app development costs

Now, let’s discuss how you can cut the cost of building your MVP in more detail.

Research your users first

“Start with the user, and everything else will follow.”

This statement, the very first rule in Google’s 10 Things philosophy, is the best approach to MVP app development.

After all, if you’re not building your app with your users in mind, who are you building it for?

And you can’t do that without researching your users first.

Starting with user research will reduce your development costs and help you achieve a product-market fit sooner.

And product-market fit isn’t just another buzzword, it’s an essential precondition for a successful app like Marc Andreessen, investor and startup coach, said:

The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit. Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

So, what’s the best way to research your users?

The answer is simple – product discovery.

​​Product discovery is the process of researching your market and validating your product idea before developing it.

And user research is a key part of every discovery process.

Just make sure you use both qualitative and quantitative user research methods like:

  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • User interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Feedback forms
  • Social media listening

Also, you should create buyer and user personas based on the data you gather.

Here’s what Svjetlana Lukic, co-founder of Resonate, had to say about why buyer personas are important in competitive markets:

Starting your MVP’s development with user research means you’ll be building an app that actually meets your users’ needs from the start.

This also means that you’ll avoid costly pivots and changes in the middle of development, which will save you both time and money.

And that’s what building an app MVP is all about.

Key tips

  • Do product discovery – product discovery is the best way to validate your idea and research your users and market before you start developing your app MVP
  • Use a variety of research methods – make sure to use both qualitative and quantitative user research methods to get the best results
  • Create personas – buyer and user personas represent your ideal buyers and users and creating them will help your team build an app MVP that meets their needs

Clearly define your MVP’s core features

The point of building an MVP is to only include essential core features that solve a problem for your users.

This means clearly defining your MVP’s core features before you start building it.

Of course, it’s tempting to add a lot of features, but that defeats the purpose of building an MVP.

Most features are never used – according to Pendo, 80% of features in an average software product are rarely or never used.

How software product features are used

And that’s why you need to be ruthless when it comes to feature prioritization.

So, how can you do that?

First, you need to come up with a list of features you want your app to have.

Then, you need to ask several questions, like:

  • Is this feature technically feasible?
  • Is it aligned with our business goals?
  • Can this feature meet our users’ needs?
  • Do our competitors have this feature?

These will help you narrow down your initial list.

But, that’s just the first step.

There are a number of feature prioritization methods you should use to fully nail down your core features, like:

  • Kano
  • Value vs. effort
  • RICE (Reach/Impact/Confidence/Effort)
  • MoSCoW (Must have/Should have/Could have/Won’t have)

Here’s how the RICE method works:

RICE prioritization method

If you clearly define your core features, you’ll save money on developing your MVP and also build a better app.

And that’s exactly what you should want.

Key tips

  • Focus on the problem – before you can decide which features you want in your MVP, you need to clearly define and focus on the problem it solves for your users
  • Use feature prioritization methods – feature prioritization methods like MoSCoW or Value vs. effort are an objective way to decide if it’s worth adding a particular feature to your MVP
  • Keep it simple – the point of an MVP is to include only essential, core features and keeping it simple is the best way to do just that

Hire a dedicated team

Hiring a team to build your MVP can quickly get very expensive.

This is especially true if you’re hiring a full in-house team.

According to Indeed, the average salary of a software engineer in the United States is around $120,000 a year.

Also, this number doesn’t factor in other costs like onboarding, which on average costs $4100 per new hire.

That’s why hiring a dedicated team is a much more cost-effective option.

Dedicated team

A dedicated team is just like an in-house team, except it’s formed by a third-party agency or service provider.

You just need to make sure you pick the right company to partner with to build your MVP.

A dedicated team is the best of both worlds – it’s a much safer option than hiring a group of freelancers and is less expensive than hiring and onboarding an in-house team.

And that’s why it’s the best choice if you want to reduce MVP costs without sacrificing quality.

Key tips

  • Define the skills you need – before you hire a dedicated team, you need to define the skills you want the team to have based on your needs and requirements
  • Check the company’s portfolio and case studies – before you choose a company to partner with, make sure you check their portfolio and case studies to make sure they’re the right fit
  • Review their development process – make sure that the company you choose has a development process that fits your requirements

Build a cross-platform app MVP

If you want to target both the iOS and Android markets, building a cross-platform app MVP is the way to go.

And it’s a good way to cut costs, too.

According to NetGuru, building one cross-platform app can be up to 30% cheaper than building 2 separate native apps.

That’s because you only need a single team of engineers to build your cross-platform app MVP and your app will run on both platforms from a single codebase.

And cross-platform app development has other benefits, too:

Cross-platform app development benefits

And looking beyond your MVP, future app maintenance will be much easier than if you build separate native apps.

But, cross-platform development does have some downsides, like:

  • Slower performance
  • No access to advanced native features
  • Fewer UX/UI design options
  • Lagging behind OS updates

Even so, it’s a great, cost-effective choice if you want to target both platforms and lower MVP development costs.

And that’s why you should go for it.

Key tips

  • Choose the right tools and frameworks – make sure to choose the right tools and frameworks (Flutter, React Native) that your team is already familiar with
  • Focus on user experience (UX) – make sure to adjust your MVP’s UX based on platform-specific guidelines
  • Optimize for performance – you should optimize your cross-platform MVP for performance so it performs similarly to native apps

Use open-source tools and templates

Using open-source tools and pre-made templates is a great way to reduce your MVP app development costs.

And that’s not just idle talk.

According to the Linux Foundation, using open-source software can cut development costs by up to 55%.

And some of the top mobile app development tools are open-source, like:

Other than the fact they’re free to use, open-source tools have another major advantage.

If you use them, you’ll avoid vendor lock-in i.e. being stuck with a vendor due to the high cost of switching.

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And it’s not just development where you can cut MVP development costs without compromising quality.

You can use free UI templates and components available on sites like Figma’s community page or Bootstrap to design your app.

Using them will save you a lot of time – and time is money.

And that’s why they’re a good choice.

Key tips

  • Review licensing requirements – you should review if any tool has specific licensing requirements before you start using it to build your MVP
  • Regularly check for security updates – make sure to regularly check for security updates and fixes for every open-source tool you use
  • Choose tools with strong community support – tools with strong community support are more viable in the long-term and are easier to troubleshoot if you end up having issues

Start testing early

Getting your app to market quickly is one of the major benefits of building an MVP.

But, that doesn’t mean you should skip thorough testing in the name of speed – because that will cost you a lot more in the long run.

In the U.S. alone, poor software quality costs companies around $2.42 trillion every year.

Starting testing early is the best way to avoid becoming a part of that statistic.

And it will cut your overall MVP app development costs, too.

That’s because the sooner in the development cycle you find a bug, the cheaper it is to fix.

Cost of bugs

And the cost of fixing bugs can be up to 100x higher post-launch.

So, testing your MVP from the start is the best option – just make sure you use a variety of testing methods, like:

  • Integration testing
  • Load testing
  • Performance testing
  • Regression testing
  • Unit testing

This way, you’ll cover every angle and end up with a well-tested, quality MVP you can launch without worrying about unexpected costs.

And that’s how you build a successful MVP.

Key tips

  • Use automated testing tools – automated testing tools like Appium and Selenium will help you catch bugs as soon as they happen and make your testing more efficient
  • Create a testing strategy – an in-depth testing strategy will help your QA team more efficiently plan testing
  • Test on real devices – testing on real devices will help you find issues you might otherwise miss during testing

Top ways to reduce MVP app development costs: FAQs

What is an MVP?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a bare-bones version of your app that includes only its core features. It’s the best idea validation tool and will show if there’s genuine demand for your app.

How much does it cost to develop an app MVP on average?

On average, here’s how much building an MVP will cost you:

  • A simple MVP – $15,000-40,000$
  • A medium complexity MVP – $50,000-80,000$
  • A complex MVP – $100,000+

What are the best ways to reduce MVP app development costs?

They are:

  • Research your users first
  • Clearly define your MVP’s core features
  • Hire a dedicated team
  • Build a cross-platform app MVP
  • Use open-source tools and templates
  • Start testing early

Need help building your MVP?

Do you want to bring your idea to life but don’t know if there’s market demand for your app?

We’ve got your back.

We can validate your idea, help you achieve product-market fit, and get your MVP to market – all in 6 months.

If you want to learn more, check out our MVP app development process and feel free to get in touch with us.

Written by

Ante Baus


Ante is a true expert. Another graduate from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, he’s been a DECODEr from the very beginning. Ante is an experienced software engineer with an admirably wide knowledge of tech. But his superpower lies in iOS development, having gained valuable experience on projects in the fintech and telco industries. Ante is a man of many hobbies, but his top three are fishing, hunting, and again, fishing. He is also the state champ in curling, and represents Croatia on the national team. Impressive, right?

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