Google. Facebook. Dropbox. Airbnb. Facebook. And endless other Unicorns. All these billion-dollar brands did not look anything closer to what they are today. They all started seminal ideas that later took the form of business models with strong revenue models. There is one thing that bridges them all together.
All these successful brands were once MVPs. Turns out beginning with an MVP is the ideal way to test the feasibility of your idea in a real-world scenario. Think of it as insurance to avoid expensive mistakes that might even prove fatal to your business.
If you take a glance at the top 3 reasons why startups fail, basing future growth on assumptions is a surefire reason. Founders often get blinded with their vision for the future and commit all their owned and investor-provided assets to build the idea. Unfortunately, if the idea does not have market demand it will fall flat and drain all the resources expended along with it.
To prevent such a mishap, it is necessary to create an MVP. MVP development ensures that you have a solid hypothesis for your startup idea that warrants investing time, energy, and financial resources for building a full-fledged product.
Being new to the startup world, it is alright if you find MVP to be a novel concept. Even if you are a startup veteran, there is no harm in seeking inspiration from successful MVPs.
5 MVP examples to inspire your startup’s growth
All the 5 MVP examples that are discussed below have one common aspect. They became Billion-dollar enterprises over the last decade. Dropbox. Amazon. Airbnb. Facebook. Buffer.
These have become household names across the globe. They have even created business segments that did not even exist a decade or two ago. In the process of building their empire, these startups (which are now mega corporations) have antiquated redundant business processes.
The interesting thing to note is, all these business ideas were able to pivot and build the right business model with the help of MVP. Let’s take a closer look at what their MVPs looked like.
1. Dropbox – Cloud-based file hosting service
Dropbox addressed a serious file-sharing problem head-on. To establish its argument, Dropbox used a demo video as an MVP. the video used several analogies from daily life to prove the point that you need one place for everything — a single location on the cloud for all your files.
The demo video explained clearly how Dropbox made it easier for users to organize files scattered across multiple devices in multiple locations in a single place on the internet. All this without requiring the technical expertise or infrastructure to manage an FTP server.
2. Amazon – The everything store of Planet Earth
Amazon has become the world’s “everything store” because it started with a great MVP. Amazon’s ideaJeff Bezos envisioned a global eCommerce store in an age when internet connectivity was limited, people did not trust the internet, and the concept of a fluid supply chain was almost non-existent.
To prove the viability and future growth potential of eCommerce, Jeff Bezos began with books as the sole products sold online. They built a solid process of online ordering and last-mile delivery that constantly drove costs down while keeping profitability high. The initial Amazon.com website was also heavily optimized to put the spotlight on books.
Image 1: Why the best Tech firm loves MVP
In due course of time, Amazon had a reliable supply chain network in place that made it possible to replicate other categories of products as well. Amazon’s MVP gives the lesson that it is great to have a grander vision. However, starting small and scaling smartly is the key to achieving that grander vision.
3. Airbnb – Homestays that makes you belong everywhere
Airbnb is perhaps the best MVP example that every startup can relate to. Airbnb’s founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nate Blecharczyk stumbled upon the idea of letting out spare spaces in their homes as short-term rentals. The idea came upon them when there was a local business event for which there was a huge shortage of rentals.
Having extra space to rent out and seeing the opportunity, the founders set out to build a website that rented out airbeds and a homemade breakfast for $80 each night. In hindsight, this might seem like the worst startup idea that could lift off to become a Billion dollar business.
However, 3.4 Billion USD of revenue proves it otherwise. Airbnb’s MVP which focused only on providing the essentials and testing it with the founder’s own resources helped them plan a business on a grander scale.
Soon, Airbnb launched its own global network of homestays and vacation rentals including beach cabins, which are now verified with photographs, social media credentials, and much more.
4. Facebook – Social media platform connecting the world
Facebook was launched as a social media platform to connect students from various universities. Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was a genius programmer and built the prototype of the platform out of his dorm room.
Facebook relied heavily on the network effect — the value generated when many users join the network. It increases the chances of finding someone with the same opinions, preferences, etc.
Although created as a hobby project, the MVP proved that expanding Facebook into a global network would bring billions of people to the network. It provided a humongous platform for brands to reach users with targeted ads that will generate revenue and raise brand awareness.
Of course, Facebook’s MVP was extremely different from what the platform looks and feels like today. For starters, it did not take a news feed or timeline-focused approach. Instead, the focus on adding more friends and expanding the network.
With time, Facebook soon pivoted to the user-generated content-driven and newsfeed-based social platform that it is today.
5. Buffer – Cloud tool for maximizing social media engagement
Buffer took an alternative approach to its MVP that helped it attract the right kind of users for its trials. Before launching the tool, Buffer launched a series of landing pages where users could sign up to get an update about the product’s pricing plans.
The second landing page requested users to choose from paid or freemium plans. The volume of users who opted for the paid plans with extensive features proved that the product had growth potential.
It is worth noting that Buffer began as a tool for scheduling tweets. The founder Joel Gascoigne “believed that single feature was worthy of its own application.” To prove his point, Joel built the first version which was the landing page that explained the product in the bullet points and directed users to the plans and pricing page.
The next landing page had the pricing plans and CTAs. Based on the clicks got on the paid plans, Buffer was able to validate the commercial feasibility of the product. As the next step, they requested users to submit their email IDs to give updates about the product release.
Buffer went live on 30th November 2010 and was well-received by all internet publications and marketers.
From idea to product: Why MVP development matters to your business
It is extremely hard for anyone to miss noticing these brands on the internet. You would have come across them in some way or the other in your routine life. It is fascinating to know that all these brands began as tiny ideas. The tiny ideas were proved to be of commercial worth with the help of MVP development.
MVP development can be rightly considered as the formal way of testing waters before expending all your startup’s resources on building the product. The right MVP can accelerate your startup’s growth or put it on the slow lane to growth.