In the dynamic world of startups, every second counts. Ideas need to be tested, tweaked, and re-tested, all in the shortest time possible.
This is where the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes into play. MVPs are the first functional versions of a product with minimal features, designed to test the market and gather user feedback for improvement. They are the unsung heroes of the startup world, the ‘test pilots’ of new ideas.
This blog post will guide you on a journey through different types of MVPs, their real-world minimum viable product examples, and tips for building your own successful MVP. Let’s delve in!
MVPs are products with the core components required to validate a business idea and gather user feedback.
Examples of successful MVPs include Twitter (now known as X), Snapchat, Food on the Table, Wealthfront, Groupon & Buffer.
Building an effective MVP involves identifying target audience needs and refining through prototyping & user feedback for optimal product delivery.
Understanding Minimum Viable Products
A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is essentially a product with just the core components required to validate a business idea and gather user feedback.
The minimum viable product definition varies, depending upon the project, and may range from a basic feature set with just the core components to a more complex software prototype.
One minimum viable product example for entrepreneurs is developing an MVP that serves as the cornerstone of a building. It enables them to validate their business idea with minimal resources, enter the market swiftly, gain real user feedback, and refine the product progressively.
Within MVP development, the guiding principle is “less is more.” The primary concern is delivering core functionality, while minimizing product development costs and maximizing customer understanding.
The objective is to create a lean product with a minimal feature set, yet valuable to early adopters. The feedback gathered from these early adopters is then used to further refine the product, to ensure it resonates with the target audience, and to guide the overall product development process.
This is the essence of the lean startup philosophy, and it’s the heart of minimum viable product development.
The Purpose of MVPs
Building a successful MVP validates the product idea, curtails development costs, and facilitates step-by-step improvements driven by user feedback. It follows the approach of “Build-Measure-Learn,” thereby aiding in the validation of a business plan.
Take the example of Dropbox. The company’s MVP was a demo video that resulted in over 70,000 signups. The feedback received from this MVP was instrumental in developing Dropbox into the globally recognized cloud storage service it is today.
The MVP business model makes an interesting assumption about early product users. It is believed that these early adopters will:
Recognize the potential of the final product proposition
Provide valuable feedback to guide the development team in the right direction
This assumption, while it may seem risky, often pays off. The early adopters become the product’s biggest advocates, helping the product gain traction and eventually succeed in the market.
Key Elements of a Successful MVP
A successful MVP is much more than just a stripped-down version of a product. It requires a clear value proposition to effectively communicate the primary benefit of the product to customers. In addition, targeting a specific audience is critical for an MVP to ensure that the product fulfills its designated users’ requirements and gains momentum in the relevant market segments.
Choosing core features for an MVP calls for the MoSCoW method, which prioritizes essential features for realizing the product’s objectives and meeting user needs effectively. Essential features for an MVP generally include fundamental functionalities such as:
A search bar
Chat with customer support
Other pertinent features that bring the concept to fruition.
Bear in mind, the importance lies not in a multitude of features, but in the right features that cater to user needs.
Single-Feature MVP Examples
One effective way to develop an MVP is to focus on a single core functionality. This approach, known as the single-feature MVP, enables faster market testing and simpler user adoption. It’s like a laser beam; focused, direct, and powerful. By concentrating on just one feature, startups can ensure that they do one thing extremely well, which often contributes to the product’s success.
Let’s explore some examples of successful single-feature MVPs.
Twitter: Microblogging Platform
Twitter (or X as it is called now), the global social media giant, started out as a simple microblogging platform. Its MVP was an SMS app developed for internal usage at Odeo, allowing staff members to communicate with one another and view the messages on a basic platform. This simple feature caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since its initial launch, Twitter has evolved from a microblogging platform for short text updates to a global social media network with a range of expanded features and functionalities. What began as a single-feature MVP has now become a platform with hundreds of millions of users, all thanks to the power of starting small and focusing on the core value proposition.
Snapchat: Photo Messaging App
Snapchat is another excellent example of a successful single-feature MVP. The app’s initial feature was the ability to send direct messages through photos and videos that expire after a few seconds. T
his innovative concept was a hit with users, distinguishing Snapchat from other messaging applications. In just five years, Snapchat was able to significantly expand its user base.
Snapchat’s MVP was instrumental in its success. It enabled the founders to:
Validate their product and business model hypotheses through real-world usage data
Gain insights into the preferences of their market
Make necessary adjustments based on user feedback
They underwent a process of continuous development and introduction of new features to transition from its MVP to a fully featured app. This iterative approach to development was instrumental in Snapchat’s evolution and success as a photo messaging app.
Concierge MVP Examples
The concierge MVP is another interesting approach to MVP development. It involves providing a product or service manually to users, enabling more rapid market testing and validation. This method allows startups to:
Test their product’s core functionality in the market at a faster rate than would be attainable if full software development were invested in
Foster brand trust
Collect valuable feedback from actual users
Let’s delve into some examples of successful concierge MVPs.
Food on the Table: Meal Planning Service
Food on the Table started as a concierge MVP, providing a grocery shopping service that generated custom meal plans based on customers’ preferences, along with sending recipes and deals from grocery stores to facilitate cost savings while preparing meals. This hands-on approach allowed the company to closely interact with users and understand their needs, preferences, and pain points.
As Food on the Table proved its business model, it automated the concierge MVP, transitioning to scalable automation. The company steadily incorporated features that improved the user experience and service offerings, demonstrating a successful MVP scale-up.
From a manual meal planning service to an automated platform, Food on the Table has shown how a concierge MVP can effectively evolve into a scalable solution.
Wealthfront: Financial Advisory Platform
Wealthfront, a digital wealth management platform, also followed the concierge MVP model. Initially, it provided financial advice through human experts, much like a traditional financial advisory firm. This allowed the company to understand user needs and preferences intimately and validate its business model before transitioning to an automated job and investment platform.
Wealthfront then leveraged the advantages of AI and robo-advisors to modernize wealth management services, making them more personalized, accessible, and cost-effective. Today, as a fully automated platform, Wealthfront provides a range of services, including robo-advisory services and a cash management account.
This shows how a concierge MVP can successfully transition into an automated, scalable business.
Piecemeal MVP Examples
The piecemeal MVP is yet another fascinating approach. It involves utilizing existing tools and services to construct a tailored solution, enabling cost-efficient market testing. It’s like building a car using parts from other cars. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just need to arrange the parts in a way that works for your specific needs.
Let’s investigate some successful instances of piecemeal MVPs.
Groupon: Deal Aggregator
Groupon, the popular deal aggregator, is a classic example of a piecemeal MVP. It started out as a basic WordPress site that advertised local businesses with unique offers and deals. This allowed the company to test its business idea and validate its market fit without investing significant resources into building a sophisticated platform from scratch.
Over time, Groupon evolved from its basic WordPress site into a comprehensive, global platform, offering a wide range of deals from various businesses. This transition was made possible by the success of its piecemeal MVP, which allowed it to validate its business idea, understand its users, and gradually build its platform based on user feedback and market trends.
Buffer: Social Media Management Tool
Buffer, a social media management tool, started with a simple landing page MVP that described its product and asked visitors to sign up if they were interested. This approach allowed Buffer to assess the level of interest in its product before investing significant resources into its development.
Buffer then used an iterative development process, releasing a basic version of the product and incorporating user feedback to refine and add features.
This approach enabled Buffer to build a comprehensive tool for social media management, proving the effectiveness of a piecemeal MVP in validating a product idea and guiding its development.
Landing Page MVP Examples
Landing page MVPs are a popular and effective way to test product ideas, gauge user interest, and obtain feedback. They involve creating a single web page that describes the product’s benefits, features, and value proposition, and often include a call-to-action such as a signup form or a download button.
Let’s consider some examples of successful landing page MVPs.
Dropbox: Cloud Storage Service
Dropbox, the well-known cloud storage service, started as a landing page MVP. The company created a demo video to illustrate their product’s features, which generated considerable user interest and validated its cloud storage concept. The success of this MVP was evident in the over 70,000 email addresses collected from prospective customers, clearly demonstrating a strong interest in the product.
Following the launch of the demo video, Dropbox conducted market testing to gauge interest and subsequently developed the concept into a fully functional product.
This example illustrates the power of a landing page MVP in validating a product concept, gauging market interest, and guiding the development of a successful product.
Airbnb: Accommodation Rental Platform
Airbnb, the global platform for short-term rentals, also started as a landing page MVP. The company launched a straightforward accommodation rental platform that enabled strangers to pay to stay in another person’s home.
Despite its simplicity, this MVP was able to demonstrate the viability of the business idea and gather user feedback for further development.
The landing page MVP revealed a market demand for personal paid room rentals, thus attracting a user base that enabled Airbnb to progressively refine their product and business model. This transformation from a website with airbed ads to a sophisticated and global short-term rental platform was made possible due to the success of the MVP.
Software Prototype MVP Examples
Another approach to MVP development is the creation of a software prototype. This involves constructing a rudimentary version of a program to assess its potential and procure user feedback. It’s like creating a rough sketch of a painting before applying the final brush strokes.
Let’s review some instances of successful software prototype MVPs.
Spotify: Music Streaming Service
Spotify, the leading music streaming service, started as a software prototype MVP. The company initially tested the product among family and friends, gathering valuable feedback and data from this closed beta phase. This allowed Spotify to refine its product before rolling it out to a wider audience.
Spotify’s initial MVP included ambitious features to create a comprehensive music streaming service. By meeting its short-term goals and differentiating from competitors, Spotify was able to establish itself as a leading music streaming service. This example illustrates the effectiveness of a software prototype MVP in refining a product based on user feedback and establishing market fit.
Instagram: Photo Sharing App
Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, also began as a software prototype MVP. The app enabled users to take photos, apply filters, and share them in a single chronological stream. This simple feature was a hit with users, leading to Instagram’s rapid growth and eventual acquisition by Facebook.
Instagram started with a simple photo-sharing feature and evolved into a comprehensive social media platform by steadily introducing features such as scheduling social media posts, Stories, IGTV, Explore, and Shopping capabilities.
This progression from an MVP to a fully-featured platform demonstrates the power of a software prototype MVP in guiding mvp product development and achieving market success.
Tips for Building a Successful MVP
Creating a successful MVP blends art and science. It encompasses:
Identifying the target audience
Emphasizing core functionality
Refining based on user feedback
It’s like sculpting a masterpiece; you start with a rough lump of clay (your raw idea), and gradually shape and refine it based on feedback and insights until you have a beautiful sculpture (a market-ready product).
The initial iteration of an MVP should primarily concentrate on delivering core functionality tailored to the identified target audience. It’s important to:
1. Create a foundational prototype for initial testing.
2. Test the MVP and collect user feedback to ensure that the initial concept is in line with user expectations.
3. Use the feedback to inform further development before further investment in coding and development.
The final stage in building an MVP is implementation and refinement based on user feedback to perpetually better the product and align it with market requirements.
As we’ve seen, MVPs are the unsung heroes of the startup world. They are the first functional versions of a product that allow entrepreneurs to test their ideas, gather user feedback, and refine their product progressively.
Whether it’s a single-feature MVP like Twitter, a concierge MVP like Food on the Table, a piecemeal MVP like Groupon, a landing page MVP like Dropbox, or a software prototype MVP like Spotify, the goal is the same: to validate a product idea, reduce development costs, and enable iterative improvements based on user feedback.
As you embark on your own entrepreneurial journey, keep these examples in mind and remember that sometimes, less is more. Start small, focus on core functionality, listen to your users, and iterate.
That’s the recipe for a successful MVP.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is MVP and example?
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, and is a product with the essential features included. For example, an MVP of an online food ordering app may include only the ability to select and order dishes from restaurants, while an MVP of a web browser might include fetching and parsing webpages.
What are the three types of MVP?
The three types of MVP are the Concierge, Wizard of Oz and Landing Page models, as popularized by Food on the Table, Aardvark and Buffer respectively.
What is the purpose of creating an MVP?
Creating an MVP helps to quickly test a product concept, reduce development costs and gain valuable user feedback for improvements.
How can I build a successful MVP?
Identify your target audience, focus on core functionality, prototype, test and iterate based on user feedback - these are the fundamentals of building a successful MVP.
Can an MVP evolve into a fully-featured product?
Yes, an MVP can evolve into a fully-featured product. This is done through an iterative process of testing, gathering user feedback, and making improvements.
About Martin Bell
Martin Bell (Founder & CEO of Bell Ventures) is the visionary and driving force behind the hyper-successful 100 Tasks Startup System which has driven the growth of 20,000+ startups including Zalando and Delivery Hero.
At Rocket Internet, he pioneered the 100-Day-Launch process and led 120+ private and public sector venture-building projects.
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