16 MVP examples to drive your startup to success
What are the best minimum viable product examples out there, and how can you apply the lessons learned to your startup? Join us as we look at some of the best MVP examples in startup history.
When you have a startup idea, it’s important to do what you can to ensure it’s a success. One of the ways you can do this is by creating an MVP to get feedback from your target audience.
Lots of successful businesses can attribute their success to a well-thought-out and carefully developed MVP. The good news? You can do this too.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best examples of MVPs and how they helped businesses take their ideas to the next level.
But first? Let’s take a look at what an MVP is.
- What is an MVP?
- Examples of MVP products that helped drive businesses to success
- In summary: Have these MVP examples inspired you to do great things?
What is an MVP?
“The lesson of the MVP is that any additional work beyond what was required to start learning is waste, no matter how important it might have seemed at the time.” — Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
A minimal viable product, or MVP, is a simple and minimalist version of your product. It’s a key part of the lean startup methodology, which focuses on launching your startup idea as quickly as possible.
Many entrepreneurs think that they need to have a fully operational version of their product when it’s time to launch, but the reality is that this can be counterproductive.
This is because you will have wasted time and money on building a product. This not only means that your competitors may get their product to market before yours but there is also the risk that your target audience doesn’t like your product.
45% of features in software are never used by the end consumer, so you can save a lot of time by leaving these out.
An MVP means you can get to market faster and get valuable customer feedback that you can use to create future iterations of your product. You can also use your MVP to get funding from potential investors too.
Want to know more about minimal viable products? Here are some great articles to get you started
- How to build a minimal viable product
- How to develop a restaurant reservation app with an MVP
- Launching a car rental app with an MVP
- How to use MVP and lean startup in fitness app development
- Lean startup mobile development and MVPs
- MVP and POC — what’s the difference?
- MVPs in software development
- Startup resources to use after your MVP launch
Examples of MVP products that helped drive businesses to success
Now that we know what an MVP is, let’s take a look at some startup MVP examples. These are the businesses that started by creating a minimum viable product, using the feedback to boost brand loyalty and keep their customers happy.
MVP example number 1: Airbnb (FKA AirBed and Breakfast)
While Airbnb has thousands of properties around the world today, in 2007, it just had one.
Roommates and friends Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia tested the waters by letting people crash at their San Francisco home. They created a website called AirBed and Breakfast, named because visitors literally slept on an airbed.
The idea eventually grew to the rest of the city, then America, and then went global.
MVP example number 2: Amazon
Did you know that when Amazon started, it only sold one product? Books. Jeff Bezos carried out market research and found books were the best product to sell. Not only was there a wide range of different books to sell, but they were easy to package and post.
The website was a huge success, and as a result, Amazon started to sell a wider range of items.
MVP example number 3: Dropbox
Dropbox founder Drew Houston wanted to make an MVP for his file-sharing software. However, the problem was that there were too many issues. An MVP needed to be reliable, secure, and have sufficient storage for everyone, and Drew didn’t have the time or money to guarantee this. So instead, he created a video demonstrating what Dropbox could do.
The video helped Dropbox get investment and grew the beta waiting list from 5,000 to 75,000 people.
MVP example number 4: Buffer
An MVP can be anything that helps you get to market and get that all-important feedback, from a mobile app to a small website.
Buffer’s MVP was a landing page. First, CEO Joel Gascoigne created a landing page explaining what Buffer was, as well as a signup form people could sign up for updates. Next, Joel asked these people what features they’d like to see in Buffer, using the feedback to shape the social media scheduling platform.
MVP example number 5: Facebook (FKA The Facebook)
Mark Zuckerburg was a psychology and computer science student at Harvard University, and originally Facebook (then known as ‘The Facebook) was only available to other Harvard Students. The platform was extremely basic at this point and only let people share messages with their network of contacts.
The social media platform was well-received and was rolled out to other American educational institutions, before becoming available to everyone.
MVP example number 6: Google Ads (FKA Google AdWords Express)
A ‘Wizard of Oz’ MVP looks fully functional and automated, but the reality is that someone is working behind the scenes to deliver results. It can be a good way to see if a feature is of interest to potential customers.
This is what happened with Google AdWords Express, an advertising tool specifically geared toward local businesses. While it looked like the system was automating ad copy for customers to use, in reality, there were people behind the scenes that were quickly creating ad copy!
When Google determined this was a service people wanted, it invested money into automating the process.
MVP example number 7: Instagram (FKA Burbn)
Instagram wasn’t always known as Instagram. The app was originally known as Burbn, named after founder Kevin Systrom’s love of whisky. The first MVP of the app was created for people to check into their nearest bars and share photos of what they were drinking.
People didn’t care for the check-in aspect of the app as other apps did it already and did it better, like Foursquare and TripAdvisor. However, users loved that they could share photos with their friends. Burbn was stripped back, renamed Instagram, and the rest is history!
MVP example number 8: Groupon
With Groupon, you create an account, find an offer you like, buy it and wait for the coupon to arrive in your inbox. In the early days of Groupon though, the process was a lot more simple.
In the beginning, the Groupon team rang around businesses to find daily deals, emailing them out to interested customers. Groupon only got a cut of the profits if enough people bought the deals. Feedback was positive and the company grew substantially, to the point that businesses came to Groupon instead.
MVP example number 9: HubSpot
HubSpot is now best known for its CMS software which helps many businesses keep track of their sales and marketing efforts. However, when it first started out, it was a blog.
Founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah used the blog to discuss marketing and sales topics, allowing users to add their thoughts and opinions. This feedback encouraged them to develop the CMS platform, which is still going strong today. Plus, the blog is still around too!
MVP example number 10: Monzo
Monzo is now a fully regulated bank, but when it launched in 2015, it started as a prepaid card service.
This meant the Monzo development team could test the waters and monitor customer feedback, without having to spend money on licenses and customized software.
MVP example number 11: Slack
Stewart Butterfield created Slack when his team was developing an online game. The Slack technology allowed them to message each other without relying on email or SMS messaging.
Slack was a huge hit with the development team, so much so, that they abandoned the game they were working on to launch Slack instead!
MVP example number 12: Netflix
Before Netflix became the online streaming service we all know and love, it made us aware of new releases in a hugely different way. Back in the late 1990s, it was an online DVD rental service. You’d order a film online, Netflix would post the DVD out to you, and you’d post it back when you were done.
This provided Netflix with a strong customer base and lots of useful information about film trends. When customers indicated that they wanted to watch films online, Netflix pivoted to provide them with the service they wanted.
MVP example number 13: Spotify
Spotify is now a very elaborate music streaming platform, offering ad-free streaming, podcasts, and a mobile app. However, when it started, the MVP was a lot more simple. This was because many music streaming platforms had failed in the past, as they were far too extravagant.
Founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon offered a basic desktop app that only offered music streaming. This lets them see if there was scope in their idea before they invested significant amounts of money into it.
MVP example number 14: Twitter (FKA twttr)
Apple iTunes moved into podcasting in 2005. As a result of this, podcasting company Odeo became worried it was going to go out of business. It was time to pivot.
Odeo’s development team had created an SMS messaging service that it used to send messages internally, called twttr. The messaging service was launched publicly, renamed Twitter, and has gone from strength to strength since then.
MVP example number 15: Zappos
Nick Swinmurn knew he wanted to sell shoes online but didn’t know if the general public felt the same way.
He tested his theory by taking photos of shoes from his local shopping mall and posting them on his website. Then, if someone ‘ordered’ the shoes, he’d go back to the mall, buy the shoes, and post them to the customer.
This gave Nick the feedback he needed to see that his concept worked and could put automated processes in place.
MVP example number 16: Uber
Uber was created because Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were frustrated with the cost of taxi services.
They developed a basic MVP mobile app available in the San Francisco area, which let people request rides from drivers. The MVP was popular with customers and became much more sophisticated over time.
In summary: Have these MVP examples inspired you to do great things?
We hope that these lean startup MVP examples have shown that creating a minimum viable product can help your business idea become successful.
By creating a ‘no frills’ version of your product or service, you’re getting to market quicker and receiving valuable customer feedback that increases the chances of your startup going the distance.
According to our research, you can save up to 40% of your budget and 25% of your time with an MVP, so they’re definitely worth putting in place.
And remember, if you need a little extra help developing, launching, and evaluating your MVP, we can help.