The startup world has become increasingly competitive over the past few years. New frontiers have been discovered and this has increased the quality of products pushed across the end-users in the ecosystem. Therefore, the need for startups to get their products across as fast as possible to their target audience has also increased. One of the ways to achieve the rapid delivery of a product is through MVP development services.
An acronym for Minimum Viable Product, MVPs must contain basic and necessary features needed to deliver value to users, attract more users and pique the interests of investors in the product. This is the crux of many startups. In this article, we have identified 20 examples of successful MVPs, in an attempt to show startups what they should prioritize when building their MVPs.
Here are the top 20 MVPs that became successful-
When it started Facebook was known as Thefacebook, and its MVP focused on connecting students and friends together using their classes and colleges. Apart from connecting them, it also allowed them to post messages using their boards.
However, it is important to state here that Facebook was not the first social network to connect friends and allow them to post messages. Other social networks at the time, including Friends Reunited, also used the same idea. The selling point of Facebook was the simplicity it provided and the popularity it gained among students. This gave room for the remaining features that followed on the platform.
Limiting the use of the product within the walls of Harvard was not only a selling point, it also helped the founders avoid mistakes that other social networks made. These mistakes included expending too many financial resources on development at an early stage and scaling up too fast without giving users what they want. Facebook, all thanks to its MVP, had organic growth across US colleges. This made the product gain traction and allowed it to grow into a dominant social network that we know today.
Airbnb would not have become a success without effectively cutting out middlemen from the rental process and providing short rentals for people. The founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia ran into some difficulty paying the rent for their loft apartment when they came up with the idea. Luckily enough, there was a design conference happening in town at the time and they created a simple webpage to list their apartments, using a few pictures of the loft apartment. They had three paying guests that day, and the rest, they say is history.
Their MVP allowed customers to see the apartment they are putting up for rent and the price.
Pebble is another startup that defied the norms of the ecosystem to develop an outstanding product. The startup was one of the leading brands in the smartwatch business. Pebble used an e-paper design for its smartwatch rather than the small-coin-sized design that has pervaded the industry. And despite its unconventional design, Pebble’s MVP raised $10 million on Kickstarter.
The backers proved that not everybody wants to use the latest and trendiest design. This was also repeated with Pebble Time which raised over $20 million in 2015. However, it is important to state that Pebble retired recently, but not without proving that unconventional designs work.
While we can all agree that the use of Vouchers and discounts tags is old, the idea behind Groupon is to modernize the sharing of coupons. The startup started with a simple WordPress website and emailed coupons in regular pdfs to early subscribers as a test. This test was successful and the startup proceeded to build a voucher system and backend, a combination of which drove the business to success.
Dropbox, arguably, has the most intriguing MVP story. The startup didn’t have an actual product. Rather, it was simply an explainer video that showed how the idea worked. The aim was to see if the idea would be acceptable to people. This step was considered smart and very economical because they could’ve built whole hardware, created APIs and apps before making the video. However, this involved risks, mostly financial, and they were unwilling to take that risk.
The less risky option paid off for the founders, Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, who attracted about 70 thousand people who dropped their emails and were interested in using the product as soon as it became available. If the idea had failed and the founders took the risk of building apps and hardware, they would’ve lost money, time, and effort.
Twitter’s MVP was born out of a very unlikely situation. The idea was a result of a hackathon organized by Odeo. Odeo, a podcasting platform, had organized the hackathon after Apple released iTunes which affected Odeo. The purpose of the hackathon was to help the startup identify the next step after the turmoil caused by Apple’s iTunes. It was during the hackathon that the idea to create an SMS-based platform came up.
It was named Twttr at the time and was meant to be an internal SMS platform for employees only. However, seeing as employees spend hundreds of dollars to post on the platform, Odeo decided to make Twttr public in 2006. Twttr didn’t become a success until 2007 and the rest is history.
Buffer is a scheduling app. It allows you to make a scheduled post on popular social media platforms. However, its MVP is also as unconventional as they come. It copied the Dropbox style, but instead of using an explainer video, Buffer used a landing page. The landing page described the idea, how it works and the pricing available.
Whoever gets interested in the idea and clicks to purchase a plan is presented with a page that tells them that Buffer is not ready yet, however, they can submit their emails to subscribe to the waiting list. The founders then used these emails submitted to contact people and ask for their expectations with regards to the product.
The MVP pushed by Etsy is the real definition of smart work. The founders had an idea and found out that the idea works, all thanks to e-bay. According to one of the founders, Rob Kalin, the idea for Etsy came when he tried selling his wooden computer casings and discovered that fees for eBay were too high and it was somewhat difficult to use. Other founders, Chris Maguire, Haim Schoppik, and Jared Tarbell, were freelance website developers and have also received the same complaints from a community forum that they were crafting at the time.
What they did was create a website that allowed people to sell things they produced themselves and within days, the poorly designed website had thousands of sellers joining and selling hand-crafted items. This served as a validation test for the idea and the team went on to build a better platform that we know today.
All they had to do was focus on where eBay let its users down and provide what eBay couldn’t provide for its users. This is why Etsy focused on bespoke crafted products and connected the crafters to their target market.
For a brand that became the face of online retailing, Amazon had a humble beginning. The brand started by selling books online via a simple website, giving brick and mortar bookstores a run for their money. Amazon focused on cheap and low-cost books and this provided the edge that the brand used to take over the retailing world.
Today, it is completely common to play games on social media platforms. However, there was a time when playing games on social media platforms were strange and this was the time that Zynga started.
The main product was a very common poker game. However, the startup was able to gain traction and raise funding when it went live on Facebook. Thus, Zynga MVP development services embodied the lesson that sometimes, a successful MVP is not about the product, but the platform on which it is used.
This MVP used an idea that became the bedrock for almost all online retail startups now. The founder of Zappos, Nick Swinmurn, wanted to sell shoes but had no store or shoes to sell. However, he took a picture of shoes he wanted to sell and upload it. If a customer is interested in the shoe, Nick goes into the store, buys the shoe, and sells it to the customer. This way, he was able to create a value chain without owning a shoe store.
12. Product Hunt
The plan Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt had was to build a community for other founders who would like to share and discuss their products with other founders and interested parties. However, he understood that building the platform would take time, money, and lots of effort. He needed to be sure that other people would use the platform if he built it.
So he built an MVP, a tool called Linkydink. The tool allows you to create a group for link sharing. He added his friends that are working on their startups and used social media to create more awareness about the idea. It took 20 minutes to create the group and the MVP attracted 170 people who wanted to talk about their products and those who wants to discover new products within the first week.
We all know that Uber is a leading ride-hailing app and one of the most successful at the business. However, what many people don’t know is that Uber MVP fulfilled the business requirements for an idea. It connected San Francisco drivers with iPhone users who don’t mind having their credit card details linked with an unknown app. With this MVP, Uber was able to show that people are willing to provide sensitive card details for a cheap taxi ride.
This is one of the popular examples of a single-featured MVP. However, the approach or decision to use limited functionalities in the MVP was not surprising. The founders of Foursquare, Naveen Selvadurai, and Dennis Crowley, have previously built a product, Dodgeball, which they sold to Google. So they knew their onions in the startup business.
The Foursquare MVP came with very limited features such as allowing you to check into locations and awarding you badges. It was the success of this MVP that led to the full development of the product and allowed the addition of more features.
This is another MVP developmental service that came with the most basic features. As surprising as it may sound, you should know that the first version of the iPhone didn’t have Bluetooth and MMS, uses 2G, could not copy and paste texts, and didn’t have a search feature. It also didn’t have the text suggestion feature like it has today. The point is, Apple understood the concept of MVP and the need to add only basic and functional features to the product.
Spotify is also another example of a startup that believed in adding a core feature to the MVP rather than adding multiple cool features and getting distracted. Its founders aim to create one of the best music streaming platforms. Thus, the MVP had one and only one feature, music streaming. Spotify’s MVP was a desktop app that allowed you to stream music and did a closed beta testing on the market.
As soon as the founders noticed that the MVP is exactly what the market wanted, they concentrated on bringing more artists to the platform, building mobile apps for users, and expanding into the US market.
AngelList is a platform that sought to connect startup founders with investors to raise money for their ideas and products and has now morphed into a platform for recruiting employees. The founders, Navak Bibi and Naval Ravikant had the idea and decided to test it in January 2010.
All they did was do simple email intros to investors, relying on their broad network of contacts. This test was successful and they saw the possibility in the idea. This was when they decided to scale up and build a successful business.
As much as Kickstarter is a popular platform for showing MVPs and raising funds, the platform also had an MVP once. The Kickstarter MVP came out in 2006 and had only the basic features. For instance, it allowed users to post their MVP, explain what it does and how it works and allow them to meet backers. The purpose of the MVP was to prove that the concept works and it did.
The founders proceeded to launch a closed alpha in February 2009, and in May of the same year, went public after raising about $35million from three backers. Today, Kickstarter has successfully funded over 190,000 projects with 18 million backers.
Back in 2010, the concept of making payments over the web was not as seamless as it is now. So brothers John and Patrick Collison had a hard time understanding why web payments were so problematic. They spent months learning about the industry, how it works, and the problems users have with PayPal.
They then shared the idea with friends and family and saw how excited they were about the concept. The brothers went to build their MVP which they called dev/payments. This MVP, despite its limited design and functionalities, had its first user within the first two weeks. The user was 280 North, a YCombinator company at the time.
This showed that the idea would be successful and led to the brothers focusing on scaling the product and making a success out of it.
Monzo is another company in the finance business and its MVP was built using pre-existing products. The MVP was an API that allowed you to move money around and the company invited people on its waiting list to see what apps they can build on its API. And this gave birth to one of the leading digital banks in the UK with over four million customers.
A startup must ensure that products reach users as fast as possible. It helps to validate the idea and attract investors. Using the examples of the successful MVP development services listed in this article, we hope startups can from the approach used by the examples and build a successful minimum viable product.