Minimum viable product examples of successful companies, such as Zappos, Dropbox, Twitter support the mentioned quote. The MVP concept is not new with regard to MVP websites and mobile app projects.
However, there is a lot of confusion around the MVP approach and how to utilize MVP examples wisely. The following article sorts everything out and describes the 3-step process to build a minimum viable product for any startup. We will discuss common minimum viable product examples, namely:
- Product designs
- Demo videos
- Landing pages
- Crowd-funding MVP
- Piecemeal MVP
- Concierge MVP
- Wizard of Oz MVP
- Software prototypes
1. Definition of a Minimum Viable Product
There are many MVP definitions available on the Internet, as many gurus have written reports on this topic. The MVP technique is rather useful, but requires critical thinking within a minimum and maximum gradation. There has been confusion about minimum viable product even among the experts who actually created the MVP concept:
Eric Ries: ”The power of MVP can be matched only by the amount of confusion that it causes, which is quite hard to do. It certainly took me years to make sense of it.”
Steve Blank: “This minimum feature set (sometimes called the “minimum viable product”) causes lots of confusion. Founders act like the ‘minimum’ part is the goal or, worse, that every potential customer should want it.”
For starters, the next image represents the general idea behind the minimum viable product.
What does MVP stand for and what does it mean from a business perspective?
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is the first working version of a product, with just enough features to satisfy potential clients and collect & analyze their feedback for the next product version, with minimum effort and resources required. The next, complete product version is developed after elaborating on the initial user feedback.
The MVP concept was created by Frank Robinson, but received popularity through startup consultants Eric Ries and Steve Blank.
Steve Blank supplements the MVP definition with a quote: “You’re selling the vision and delivering the minimum feature set to visionaries, not everyone.”
The key attributes to consider when developing your minimum viable product example are:
- MVP is not MVP until it sells; it must carry enough value to the users
- MVP is more about the process, not the product
- MVP is not a product with the minimum number of elements, but rather has core features sufficient to implement an idea and retain early adopters
- MVP is based on the lean startup philosophy and implies the iterative process of building-> measuring-> learning loop until the product meets the market need completely
- MVP aims to avoid building unuseful, unnecessary products by gaining insight about the market first
In short, MVP should deliver the very essence of the product idea in its simplest form. Based on the context, this form can be different, meaning that your minimum viable product example can differ depending on the project and range from a demo video to a working software prototype created with the help of a software development company. Some use MVP in the form of an experiment or as a landing page, while others need to build a fully-functioning MVP product.
The MVP business assumes that early product users see the promise of the final product proposition and stay loyal while providing useful feedback to guide the minimum viable product development team further.
As well, the implementation of minimum viable product examples depends upon the learning ability of a team working on the idea to ensure its value to the target audience as well as establishing monetary relations with them.
2. What are MVP Examples Used For?
These days, the market situation is volatile and trends come and go quickly. The MVP tests your product with fewer risks in terms of time and budget resources.
Hence, the benefits of using the minimum viable product examples are as follows:
- Ability to test a product hypothesis with minimal resources
- Avoidance of the bigger failures and fund expense
- Checking real-life market tendencies
- Cooperation and hand-in-hand work with potential users in crafting the final product necessary
- Shortest time between product launch on the market and early adopters
- Gaining and expanding the user base
- Possibility to attract investors early
- Ability to apply for crowdfunding
- Continuous product development team learning and education
- Reduction of potentially wasted engineering hours
3. 08 Key Minimum Viable Product Examples
Obviously, any minimum viable product example includes two elements – minimum and viable, which may differ based on the product idea. In one case, a simple video would be a good MVP example; in another, it is necessary to develop a fully-functioning MVP website or mobile app.
Let’s now discuss the most common minimum viable product examples, supported by a few real-life cases:
3.1. Product Designs as the MVP Examples
The design of the product may range from being more complex (mockups) to pretty simple (sketches). Let’s briefly describe each of the minimum viable product examples within the design category.
A sketch is a drawing of the system in free-hand format or with the use of some tools like Balsamiq, Proto.io, etc. A sketch presents the main screens or web pages of the future product with their core mechanics. Minimum viable product examples as sketches may be used to highlight the innovative idea, present your project to investors, or apply for crowdfunding.
Wireframes (UX – user experience) define the hierarchy in design and represent a skeleton of the system. They should correspond to the guidelines of a platform (iOS, Android, Web). Wireframes as a minimum viable product example demonstrate the location of the system elements, navigation among screens, and product features.
If you have a limited budget, it is a good option to use this MVP example. You can test some innovative feature that could reshape current behavior patterns among potential users (e.g. right/ left swiping in a dating app like Tinder).
UI design services, representing mockups and user interfaces, are a colorful, full-size part of your product design that is ready for implementation in the software. Similar to the UX wireframes, these minimum viable product examples can be used for demonstration, evaluation, promotion, and fundraising. To enable MVP tests of the interaction with the future website or app, mockups can be made clickable.
3.2. Demo Videos as Minimum Viable Product Examples
A demo video is a good option to be included into minimum viable product examples. Why not ask the audience if the solution resonates with their needs upfront?
The most famous MVP example in this category is the video by Dropbox. The idea of having all your digital data stored in one place and available everywhere was innovative at that time. With the help of a Dropbox MVP video demonstrating its full functionality, it was enough to receive great user feedback and get the necessary funds for development.
Thus, rather than spending thousands of dollars irrationally, develop an explanatory video to present your innovative MVP idea to potential investors and users.
3.3. MVP Landing Page Examples
A landing page is a single web page optimized in search results in order to provide key information about the promoted product and its advantages, and to offer value. These static pages are mainly used for marketing purposes. Spread the word to the public about an upcoming product, gauge interest, and receive feedback to get early followers and collect a potential user base. It is then much easier to apply for investment with an audience that is already interested.
Buffer’s landing page is a great minimum viable product example. It is a small app that allows you to sequence your social media posts and tweets so that they are shared in accordance with a chosen schedule.
Buffer’s founder Joel Gascoigne, created a simple landing page. Those who were interested clicked on ‘plans & pricing,’ but were required to leave their email in order to receive product updates, as it had not yet been built.
Next, he updated the landing page and asked potential users to choose from 3 plans: free, $5 per month, and $20 per month. Many people selected a paid plan. This was a good sign to start building the first version of the product – the minimum viable product. This is a great example of an iterative process of minimum viable product development.
3.4. Crowd-funding Minimum Viable Product Examples
Pebble has been successful not only in validating its idea but also in receiving payments for the product before its production. Pebble is an e-paper watch for smartphones. This minimum viable product example raised the largest sum, over $10M, on Kickstarter.
Another team, Bounce, came up with the idea of a mobile application that keeps track of your time so that you are never late. This MVP example received pre-payments to build a product as well.
3.5. Piecemeal MVP Example
The idea behind the piecemeal minimum viable product examples is to use existing tools and services in your own project. Basically, it collects the necessary components and pieces them together in a way that gives a new functionality and user experience.
Groupon is a classic piecemeal MVP example. Groupon is presented in the form of a marketplace where there are offers of exclusive and attractive deals from local retailers, agencies, restaurants, grocers, etc.
The only difficulty could arise when it comes to integration and partnerships with other services they should see their value in such a collaboration for developing your MVP startup.
3.6. Concierge Minimum Viable Product Examples
These minimum viable product examples help you to select a target audience while at the same time validating whether your service is useful or not. It is called a “concierge,” which is an MVP product where you need to first provide services manually instead of having a digital product. In this way, you develop your customer base and analyze your audience. With this information, you can easily pivot your concept and redefine your MVP business.
Among concierge minimum viable product examples, Food on the Table (later acquired by Scripps Networks Int.) was the most famous. This mobile application offered food recipes and the best deals from grocery stores based on your food preferences. Its founder, Manuel Rosso, searched for users to support this idea and interviewed them for food choices and available budgets. Then, he manually selected recipes, created shopping lists, and looked for discounts/coupons in local food stores. Further, this service helped stores promote their deals properly and helped people shop more efficiently.
3.7. Wizard of Oz Minimum Viable Product Example
The whole concept is hidden in the name. Recall the story in “The Wizard of Oz” where the wizard turned out to be an old man hiding behind a curtain, pretending to be a scary green head.
These minimum viable product examples imply that the projects look completely functional from the outside, while everything inside is operated manually by humans. They can also be called “Manual-first MVPs” or “Flintstone minimum viable products.”
Zappos is the best MVP example in this category. The idea of founder Nick Swinmurn was to check whether people would buy shoes without trying them on. He took a photo at a store and posted it on the Internet – and people did actually make purchases. These days, Zappos is a company worth billions and was recently acquired by Amazon for $880 million.
3.8. Software Prototype as a Minimum Viable Product
At last, let’s cover software prototypes as one of the minimum viable product examples. It is stated that software prototyping is the process of crafting software that is an incomplete version of the program that will eventually be developed.
We argue that the software prototype is the most prominent type among the listed minimum viable product examples since it is the first working version of a product with only the core features and basic components. An MVP software prototype is a good option if you:
- Have done some prior idea testing and have support from the target audience
- Have some preliminary budget for your MVP product
4. Minimum Viable Product Examples: 5 Business Use Cases
For inspiration, here are some stories behind successful services that are well-known these days and how they started with their minimum viable product examples.
4.1. Virgin Airlines
Virgin Airlines is one of the largest British airlines operating internationally that was established, and is owned, by Richard Branson. What was the minimum viable product for Virgin Airlines? It was just one route and one plane flying between Gatwick and Newark.
What was the MVP product for Yahoo? Yahoo was represented as an MVP website, a single-page website that contained a list of links to other sites. This was a sufficient amount of functionality to satisfy the users and retain early adopters of the system. Today, the system is the second most popular search engine in the world.
Airbnb was started as a concierge MVP. Back in 2017, there was a great design conference in San Francisco. The Airbnb team decided to offer their cheap accommodations during this event and posted the information on a simple website. Within a short period of time, 3 guests were interested in paying for this minimum viable service. This supported the market insight that potential customers would be willing to pay to stay at someone else’s home rather than in a hotel.
Foursquare is another good minimum viable product example. In 2009, when it was launched, it was a simple app allowing people to check-in at a certain place. No special design, no special functionality, just a single-feature minimum viable product. Today, it has 55 million monthly active users and 7 billion check-ins total.
In late 2004, Facebook was the definition of MVP on social media. Users had a simple profile and a great opportunity to connect with their group mates. This one feature was enough to provide an awesome boost and turn a small project into one of the largest public tech companies in history.
5. How to Build a Minimum Viable Product: 3-Step Process
In this section, we will explain how to create minimum viable product examples successfully.
Step 1 – Conduct Market Research & Finalize MVP Concept
A successful MVP strategy lies in a well-thought-out business plan. Business Model Canvas can be a helpful tool to finalize both your minimum viable product example and a greater product vision. The market to launch your MVP product is vital to consider, as it would be rather hard to compete with existing services that already have some audience with a mediocre product.
Considering this, you need to analyze your competitors and design a better service with the highest quality, feature set, app design, and performance speed. All of these factors should be honed to offer a better user experience in your new product. Based on the context, you can determine the MVP scope.
The business canvas consists of all the required modules to execute your MVP product strategy:
- Key Activities
- Key Resources
- Key Partners
- Customer Segments
- Customer Relations
- Delivery Channels
- Cost Structure
- Revenue Streams
Step 2 – Define Minimum Viable Product Functionality & Prioritize MVP Features
In order to develop the smallest minimum viable product example of your app, it is necessary to define the key features and separate those from functionality, which is nice to have for future versions.
There are many tools that can help you prioritize the feature list, like the MoSCoW technique. This technique splits the minimum viable product functionality into Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves, and Won’t Haves.
It is worth mentioning that the right approach to use the MVP concept has changed since its inception in 2001. The minimum viable product examples of Facebook and Yahoo! were tremendous because they were innovators at that time. Now, with new technologies, generations, and internet possibilities, it is hard to come up with a novel product.
Today, it is almost impossible to make something cheap, fast, and of high-quality. Moreover, customers are a tech-savvy and educated audience that is hard to surprise. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice quality or the look, even if it is just a test.
Users are accustomed to the high quality that is expected in all new products.
f you are planning to implement a new idea, its context should be taken into close consideration. Basically, you should ask yourself: what is the minimum product necessary to launch and what does viable mean within this product’s market environment?
Unless your idea is fresh and unique, try building a superior product to attract users.
Step 3 – Build-Measure-Learn from Minimum Viable Product Examples
The end goal of your minimum viable product is to scale and evolve into a successful business. Therefore, it is vital to implement your project starting from a minimum viable product example in the right way.
Most software development processes are based on agile software development that refers to a group of methodologies, among which is the Scrum framework. Scrum is an agile way to manage a project development process with a dedicated development team of programmers guided by a Scrum Master.
Agile development – including Scrum – is a flexible development process which coincides with the iterative MVP process, “a learning vehicle” of building-> measuring-> learning. The minimum viable product approach encourages you to interactively learn about your users with the least amount of effort while the development team receives the necessary feedback and acts accordingly – by either working on the next product version or making an idea pivot.
This agile minimum viable product development minimizes the risk of developing unnecessary MVP products while reducing the cost and time for development itself. This is also beneficial as it speeds the appearance of a product and can generate initial clients while product implementation is ongoing. The MVP strategy is rather useful, as the development team can adjust the development process quickly.
It is sometimes hard to distinguish what an MVP actually is and decide which MVP type to choose for your business. In some cases, a small experiment or a short video can be a reasonable minimum viable product example. In other cases, it is better to create the first version of a software prototype. Either way, your product should be viable and its main purpose should be to test your idea and get “validated learning” with as few resources as possible.
Think about MVP startup in terms of such actions:
- Study the market for a small problem in a bigger context
- Finalize the MVP concept – simple observation and questioning may be a great way
- Launch the MVP product in the shortest time to test the assumption
- Communication and feedback is key to validate your idea and to clear up the vision
- Learn from clients and expand the user base
- Keep iterating (building-> measuring-> learning) and try to solve a bigger issue each time
- Test the demand before the full-functioning product release
- Try to avoid large expenditures at the very start
Therefore, to structure your MVP development strategy – think small, and at the same time have a greater vision with the passage of time. As an example, Elon Musk has a great MVP entrepreneurship vision.
At first, he created an exceptional electric car [Tesla], which became the best-selling car of its kind. Meanwhile, as battery life continues to improve, this results in the possibility to drive longer distances on one charge. As well, Tesla 2 has presented electric buses, trucks, and electric subways. At the top level, Musk has a vision of global usage of alternative energy resources.
To make a final point: any minimum viable product example is not about a product itself, but rather the process of asking two questions each time:
- What is the riskiest assumption?
- What is the smallest experiment required to test it?