Mobile App MVP Cost: How to Estimate Right

The final cost of an MVP project is one of the biggest concerns for any startup owner. Fair enough — no one wants to overstep their budget. For you to navigate your financial expectations better, we are sharing a guide to estimating your MVP cost.

2 months ago   •   7 min read

By Mariia Yuskevych
Table of contents

Suppose you have an app idea. It might be a food delivery service or a music streaming platform. Of course, you would like to reach the market as soon as possible and try out your business project without spending long months on the development. In this case, MVP (minimum viable product) is the best approach.

MVP allows entrepreneurs to introduce their product to the audience in the shortest terms, get idea validation and real feedback from the users, and significantly save on the development budget.

The latter one is of special interest for many businesses — no one wants to go over the top for an app that hasn’t proven to bring income yet. But what budget are we talking about? Let’s discuss what makes up the cost of an MVP project and calculate the final price you will pay for your mobile application development.

What is an MVP?

Before we start with all those numbers, let’s define an MVP to avoid any confusion. A minimum viable product is a software development approach focused on creating a product with a minimum set of necessary features enough to complete a certain task and bring satisfaction to the end user.

In other words, the point of MVP is to create the simplest possible version of a product while at the same time making it sufficient to present the value and be competitive in the market. In such a way, the time to market is faster and development cost is lower. Of course, these are not all the benefits of the MVP approach.

Why go with the MVP development approach

Let’s be honest, running a startup might be quite a challenge, especially when it comes to budgeting. Every business owner has a reasonable number of risks and fears; it is totally normal.

Managing the risks and optimizing the development process is easier with an experienced team behind your back. Often enough, after a consultation and project estimation, we offer our startup clients to go with an MVP approach because

  • MVP saves your budget and time resources as you are building a simpler UI with a basic feature set
  • You can enter the market in the shortest terms and see how the app is doing in the real competitive environment
  • Your product gets real feedback from users; you know right away what they liked and what should be improved
  • You can validate your project at a low cost to understand if such an app is needed and it's worth investing into a more complex functionality
  • Your MVP can attract investors and sponsors; you might introduce an MVP version of a product on a pitch
  • You can improve the product gradually and scale up organically; no need to invest more than you can into an app that is still to prove itself

As a result, MVP is a universal approach to startup development as it allows you to be reasonable with the project expenses as well as increases the chances of making a successful and profitable application. After all, MVP helps you study the market demand in the field and understand what exactly your target audience craves.

What influences the cost of the MVP development

When a new client approaches us with a request for an MVP mobile app project, often enough, they expect to hear a price right away. The truth is that many factors influence the MVP final cost, from the design complexity level to the tech stack choice.

Let’s review what makes up the MVP development price and later calculate how much you would spend on it.

Design complexity level

We have mentioned that a UI/UX design for an MVP project doesn’t have to be overly complex. At the same time, it’s crucial to stand out and attract attention by offering eye-catching and visually pleasant designs. Not to mention the necessity of UI/UX smoothness and convenience.

All in all, there are four levels of design complexity that you can choose between

  • Standard components
  • Minimum updates of the standard components
  • Custom animations
  • Fully custom design

Based on your app type, budget, and desires, you might choose anything between a standardized design adapted to your branding and a design full of custom animations and components.

Of course, one more parameter that influences the cost is the total number of screens you will need; it depends on the functionality and user flow you are to present.

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You don’t have to make these decisions all by yourself — our design and business development specialists will discuss your expectations and suggest a proposal based on your business goals and budget.

Number of users

The next factor that makes up the cost of an MVP development is the number of users you are expecting to be active on the app. Usually, an MVP project doesn’t assume millions of users download the app right away. Still, being more precise means that the development team can optimize the app’s performance and third-party tools, like databases, to make sure everything runs smoothly and the app can handle the load.

Platform choice and the tech stack

When we are talking about mobile app development, it’s impossible not to mention the platform choice. Whether to present your app on iOS, Android, or both platforms is one of the first and most important choices you are to make.

Getting two applications for both iOS and Android takes twice as long as getting one app only (no surprises, right?), and, as a result, multiplies your MVP budget by two. If you need your app to run on both iOS and Android, consider cross-platform development. This approach allows creating one app that runs on both iOS and Android platforms.

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More on cross-platform apps in our recent material about native vs cross-platform development.

Development complexity and time

One of the main parameters forming the cost of MVP is the very development process and the complexity of functionality you need to implement. To estimate how much time will the development take, our business development team would typically ask if you need

  • Admin panel
  • Cloud-based service
  • Video functionality (a standard player, customized player, offline videos, video analysis, etc)
  • Social media functionality
  • Chat functionality

Depending on which features from this list you are planning to integrate, the development time will raise and form up the final cost of your MVP project.

How to calculate the cost of your MVP project

As for now, the theoretical part of MVP cost distribution should be clear for you and you understand why the MVP price can vary anywhere from $15 000 to $50 000. The best way to get a precise estimate is to sign up for a consultation from your preferred outsourcing company (unless you are going with in-house development)  and get a calculation for your project taking into account all the features and a business model.

To make you more prepared for what might await in the MVP cost estimation, let’s discuss how you can approximately understand the budget scale yourself.

Firstly, you need to know the rate of your MVP development team. It varies widely depending on the company’s location, expertise level, size, and so on. While outsourcing your project to a US-based company can cost $80-100/hour, collaborating with the team from Ukraine goes down to $35-50/hour given the same level of experience and quality.

Suppose you decided to act smart and chose a reliable Ukrainian team that has proven MVP cases in your domain. They charge $30 per hour for design, development, and testing. But how do you know how many hours your project will take? Here’s a breakdown.

Keep in mind that these are approximate estimates and should not be used as the last word for your project cost.

Feature

Hours

Project setup

20-40

User registration and login 

30-50

Social media functionality and messaging

40-100

Search and result filtering

40-100

Placing an order, making a purchase

50-90

App’s admin access and settings 

80-200

Payment integration

40-150

Cloud storage integration

50-150

Video player

20-50

Testing 

80-200

By multiplying the team’s hourly rate by the features you are planning to integrate, you can understand how much money you are likely to spend on bringing your project idea into reality.

For example, creating a fitness MVP app with a video player would take around 500-800 hours. As a result, getting such an app from a Ukrainian development company will cost you around $20 000-32 000 per platform or per one cross-platform application.

MVP examples from Perpetio

Speaking of fitness app MVPs, let us show you a recent project we completed at Perpetio. With this example, we would like to highlight that an MVP app should be simple yet attractive and feature-rich enough for your audience to find interest in it. The key word here is enough — any MVP project should be just enough to fulfill its purpose and present value.

Our recent Selfit fitness app presents a set of workouts with a built-in video player for instructions. After careful research of user persona, our design team determined which functionality will attract the target audience and what they are looking for in a fitness app.

Selfit app by Perpetio

Based on these conclusions, we selected a feature set that will surely help the users achieve their goal — having access to short yet effective workouts at home. At the same time, the motivation system is a must so that users can track their progress and be encouraged to continue the training.

As a result, our fitness app MVP presents a convenient, easy-to-understand interface, clear video instructions, gamified motivation system, and, of course, an eye-catching and modern design.


Summing up

The financial side of MVP development is one of the biggest concerns of any startup owner; nothing surprising about it. While trying to reach the stars, one also has to stay down to earth and use the funds in the most effective way.

An average mobile app MVP project will cost you anything between $15-50 000. It all depends on the development team of your choice, a feature set you want to implement, design complexity, and so on. An experienced MVP company will help you make the right business and tech decisions, optimize the development process, and, as a result, make the best from the available resources.

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