The concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) has time and again proven its validity. Popularized by Eric Ries and Steve Blank in the late 2000s, the idea of narrowing down early-stage product development to building core features remains a major guideline in the startup world.

It doesn’t matter exactly how you deliver on these key features, as long as they allow you to validate your product idea against the market and/or find a unique market fit. At this early stage, you may also want to use resources sparingly, because 90% of startups fail before they begin to generate revenue.

The following five MVP examples prove that you can operate with a low budget at first and reap extraordinary results later.

Uber

Uber is the embodiment of every entrepreneur’s dream. It’s an innovative service that has expanded to more than 60 countries, provides jobs for over 22,000 people worldwide, and generates ten figures in revenue. Today, the term “uber” is synonymous with aggregation, and is used to easily convey new product ideas based on this feature.

This is what the UberCab website looked like in 2009

Back in 2009, “UberCab” was founded by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. It was a simple mobile interface used by its founders and their circle of friends. The UberCab iPhone app was launched citywide in San Francisco in 2010.

Problems it solved:

  • Difficulty finding a cab during peak travel times
  • The high cost of car services

Features built at the MVP stage:

  • An iOS app
  • Connecting commuters with drivers
  • Facilitating payments through a credit card system

Important features introduced after MVP validation:

  • Driver reviews
  • Fare splitting
  • Driver tracking live
  • Payment automation
  • Gamification elements

At its onset, UberCab enabled just two features that were enough to efficiently solve the problem. By the time the app went live, it already had several competitors like TaxiMagic and Cabulous (both now long gone). Who knows what fate Uber would have suffered if, instead of focusing on those two initial features, Kalanick and Camp had postponed the launch until every feature was built out?

Airbnb

Hotels hate Airbnb because the service provides their potential customers with a suitable and often more affordable alternative. With more than two billion dollars in revenue and over 12,700 employees globally, this 2008 startup stands on very solid footing today.

It all began in 2007 with one of the funniest minimum viable product examples to date. The legend has it that co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia lived in San Francisco and lacked the money for rent and paying bills. That year, the Industrial Design Society of America Conference took place in the city — and there was a problem.

AirBed&Breakfast website in 2007

Local hotels were unable to accommodate everyone seeking to attend the conference. Chesky and Gebbia spotted an opportunity and took immediate action: they bought some air mattresses, put them in their home, photographed it and whipped up a simple website, AirBed&Breakfast. 

Three people quickly booked the place, and that was it: the MVP (although not recognized as such at that moment) proved the concept right.

Problems it solved:

  • The high cost of hotel rooms
  • Shortage of available hotel rooms due to overbooking

Features built at the MVP stage:

  • A very simple showcase website
  • A photo gallery

Important features introduced after MVP validation:

  • Search
  • Host and guest profiles
  • Reviews
  • Special offers
  • Craigslist platform integration
  • Smart pricing

…and many more.

A clean website that worked as a photo gallery of the founders’ home served as an MVP to validate the idea. At that point, designers Chesky and Gebbia belonged to the professional community attending the conference, and this likely had a part in the initial Airbnb success story.

Dropbox

We all know what title comes to your mind whenever someone mentions storing files in the cloud. One of Y Combinator’s most successful investments ever, Dropbox boasts more than 500 million users globally and over $1.1 billion in annual revenue.

As an MIT student in 2007, Drew Houston used to forget his USB flash drive. In order to be able to access his files remotely, he began working on a cloud app for his personal use. Although there were similar services at the time, they “suffered problems with Internet latency, large files, bugs, or just made me think too much,” Houston claimed.

Houston soon realized that the idea was worth sharing with the world. In 2008, before actually developing the product, he uploaded a 3-minute explainer video that showcased how the software would work. In just one day, Houston and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi had about 75,000 beta sign-ups; this propelled them to proceed toward the product release.

The original Dropbox explainer video

Problems it solved:

  • Quick access to your files from anywhere
  • File synchronization across your devices

Features built at the MVP stage:

  • A product concept
  • An explainer video

Important features introduced after MVP validation:

  • The product itself!
  • Automatic organization and backup
  • Accessibility across various platforms
  • Link sharing
  • Uploading videos and photos from a smartphone
  • The “Dropbox for Business” version

In this case, the founders didn’t even bother to build the product until they could prove the viability of the idea. Instead, they took the time to convey the concept in a comprehensible and cost-efficient manner — which, at that point, appeared to be just enough to create one of the classic startup MVP examples.

Snapchat

Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has heralded a new era of social media built around visual experiences. The company behind it, Snap Inc., enjoys an annual revenue of more than $1.18 billion. Roughly 186 million smartphone owners have installed the app.

The story of Snapchat begins with the idea of an ephemeral messaging platform proposed by its co-founder Reggie Brown. The first product version was an iOS app called Picaboo. It allowed users to share photos and set a viewing time limit before the photos expire.

Snapchat in 2011

It took Snapchat about six months to acquire its first 1000 users. The founders leveraged the MVP to learn from user experience and test various assumptions. The app began to get massive traction with the introduction of self-destructing videos known as the Stories feature.

Problems it solved:

  • Personalized, secure photo sharing

Features built at the MVP stage:

  • An iOS app
  • Photo sharing
  • Expiration timer

Important features introduced after MVP validation:

  • Stories
  • Poke
  • Replay
  • Geofilters
  • Face filters
  • Memories

The story of Snapchat is one of the classic successful MVP cases where an initial product enabled identifying a market fit that defined features the target audience wanted most. 

HubSpot

These days, you will hardly find a marketer who has never interacted with this brand. A family of powerful sales and marketing tools, HubSpot makes more than $500 million in revenue, employing over 3,200 people internationally.

However, global professionals also recognize this name for constantly providing actionable industry-specific knowledge. And this is exactly how it all began for HubSpot when Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah started their blog in 2005.

When the founders studied at MIT, they originated the idea of inbound marketing that translated into “empower businesses around the world to stop interrupting, start helping, and return their focus to the customer.” In 2005, they launched their blog, began to write a lot, and, almost simultaneously, kicked off developing the software itself.

The first product page of HubSpot

Running the blog helped the team behind HubSpot learn more about the most typical pains associated with marketing as they analyzed the response from their audience. Within nine months, they rolled out a product that explicitly solved these issues. As a bonus, HubSpot’s articles ranked extremely well on Google and a community of loyal early adopters was already in place.

Problems it solved:

  • Uninformed marketing and sales strategies
  • Lack of collaboration
  • Annoyed prospects

Features built at the MVP stage:

  • Website
  • Blog

Important features introduced after MVP validation:

  • Customized information portals
  • Collaborations through intranets and extranets
  • Website management
  • Client communications

Even though the HubSpot blog wasn’t exactly a “product,” we can still view it as an MVP. It proved the interest in the topic existed and served its founders as an incredible learning source — before they built something that nobody wanted. Now, with the product up and running, this medium remains one of the most popular in its industry.

Your turn

Now that you’ve had a chance to see the MVPs of these five highly successful companies deconstructed, it is time to think about your own journey. As a founder, you must state the problem your product is aiming to solve as clearly as possible — or immediately begin work on teasing it out like HubSpot did. 

Once that is done, you will understand which features of your product you should focus on delivering. This will allow you to get the most out of working with your software development partner from day one. Rubyroid Labs is ready to help you shore up your efforts toward an innovative product by providing solid expertise in technology.

 


Author

Business Development at Rubyroid Labs

Write A Comment