Successful MVP Cases and Their Hard Lessons Learned. Part 2

20 March 2020 Writer: Lera Nesterovich 361 views

Successful MVP examples can be absolutely different, but each and any of them give a lesson worth paying attention to. As you see below, they have a couple of features in common and it turned out to be the key to success. So, follow along.

Groupon: look at your users

Groupon is a perfect example of a project, being created on the mistakes made on previous projects, as well as an example of a “pre-launch page” MVP.

The idea was to build a website where people can create, find and join groups for the activities, too complex for one person.

An MVP of the first Andrew's product, The Point.
Andrew Mason, the founder, had another project before Groupon, a similar one. But it didn’t skyrocket because of a set of reasons. But it didn’t stop Mason, so he analyzed the mistakes and launched another project, way more successful. Funny, but it took less time to launch it.

It all began from a WordPress blog. They used  FileMaker to generate coupons, so they can be sent to people via email. Simple? Yes, but it was the goal – to collect the feedback and validate the idea, so complexity was not needed.

It turned out that the service grew popular, having become one of the most successful MVP software examples.

Keep your "time to market" short

The whole idea of MVP projects is to create something just to validate the idea as fast as possible. So it is closer to the sketch, not to the complete app with diverse functionality.

As far constant development and improvement is a time and resource-consuming, a couple of issues may appear:

  • The product you are working on and improving is not what people need and want. MVP allows you to check if the idea is worth working on from the very beginning.
  • They say, a good idea never comes just to one person. It means that there might be other developers, working on a similar idea. If you launch first you can get a huge competitive advantage.

Look at how people hack your or existing solutions. Pick a niche

The idea of The Point was too abstract – it was about helping people to get together. So even if an idea is good and promising, it simply gets too little support because of being too vague. It happened with The Point: there were a lot of things implemented from the very beginning.

But Andrew has noticed that people were using The Point mostly for collective buying, though there were other options, for example, charity fundraising. So quite natural that he decided to dedicate his time to the niche that seemed promising. And it was a winning strategy.

Groupon MVP

So it was decided not to overload users and provide them with more freedom. Thus they received just a letter a day and could handpick the campaigns on their own. However, the user base was channeled in one and it made the difference.

If you focus on a specific niche you could provide the users with the ultimate experience in solving a problem specific for them. It can be said that all MVP successful examples are about solving some specific issue. But sometimes people start using the product not as it was meant to, and this should be considered a chance to review it and make some correction of the existing concept.

Buffer: test before coding

If you were looking for some MVP examples showing how one can validate the idea before starting to code, look at Buffer.

I the beginning, it was just a small idea and started from a single twitter account about startup news and tech. The more the channel grew, the more tweets Joel Gascoigne, the founder, made.  Soon it became difficult and too time-consuming. It is a huge difference when you spam hundreds of tweets at once or when you have to log into the app all the time to keep pace.

And here an idea of social media automation and scheduling apps came. Yes, it was that simple.

Back at that time, he was already an advocate of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup principles and knew pretty a lot about MVP, so while working on his startup he possessed all the needed information and skills. And back then he was about to adhere to the MVP principles as much as possible.

 He succeeded after all and ended up on this list. But at first, he started coding the app. Later, driven by a desire to make everything right this time he stopped development and focused on the feedback first. Thus a 2-page MVP was created. Its aim was pretty straightforward – to check if people would need the app like this at all. So Joel made a simple tweet and asked people what they think about the idea. And it worked. Some even left their emails to be notified when the app is out. It was considered to be enough for “validated learning”.

At first, the Buffer MVP looked like this

After he added a pricing screen to check the customers’ reaction to that. So he could process the verification further and find out if people are ready to pay for the product. As soon as this idea was validated a swell, the development process started.

Eventually, Joel added one more page to his MVP

So the first Buffer version was created in about 7 weeks. But at the same time, Joel continued coding in the evenings and during the weekend, so the app could be out faster.

Try to test your idea before you even start coding

It is the basic MVP lesson, as well as a development principle. Try to get the feedback and process the validation before you code.

But you should keep in mind that there’s a gap between a desire to buy the product and actual transaction. So if 100 people signed to the product, they will not end up in 100 purchases. Though they might be interested in the idea and complete the transaction later on.

Also, you should be careful here – if the product does not have support at the beginning and people are not ready to pay for it, it means you should reconsider the concept and your next steps.

The examples, listed above, clearly show that the best way to process the idea validation is to create a simple landing page and to monitor the users’ feedback. 

Keep your product really minimal

The version of Buffer you see now differs from the initial one, as far back then it was possible to schedule the tweets only. And it was enough to attract users and even get some support from the very beginning, so the service grew.

So the main point here is to remember that to validate the idea a minimal functionality is enough. If the customers give you good feedback, you can start working on more advanced options. 

Uber: scale gradually

The story here is similar to the previous one – the idea was to pair customers and drivers and to make the taxi less expensive. The initial version of the app also was different from the modern one in terms of functionality and ended up in this list is another one example of successful MVP implementation. The MVP looked as follows:

  • just a PHP web app, similar to the mobile app;
  • the customer could order just one car from the available ones;
  • the app was available only in the San Francisco area and only on iPhones;
  • the app was not available in the AppStore. It was possible to install after contacting some of the founders, so they can send you a specific code;
  • you couldn’t pay directly in the app.

 

One of the first version of the Uber app

At the very beginning, there were few orders. But the more cars the company got, the more orders they received. It was too time-consuming, so they made a decision to contact drivers to allow them to order processing on their own. 3 out of 10 agreed and it was the beginning of a completely new business model. And the beginning of the #1 taxi app in the world as well.

Pivots and iterations are ok

There are cases when you might decide to make changes to your project. They may be related to the customers’ issues (pivot) or your solution(iteration). And iterations are a normal part of the development process, you will face them almost 100%. Pivots are different, not every Startup deals with them.

Uber is an example of a successful switch from the initial plan to the channel establishment and direct communication between the parties. And it was the model that made Uber efficient and successful. However, the model itself made its way to other industries.

 

Uber's MVP website after a few iterations

Scale gradually

The startups, mentioned in the article, at the beginning were the small ones and did not have a big budget behind. Moreover, their aim was to deal with one specific issue and initial versions were far less advanced than the ones we know now. This approach allows validating the ideas without wasting too much. It also provides all the opportunities to be focused on the initial goal and proceed with looking for the best solution. But the most important advantage of such an approach is that it allows you to work on the project, keeping in mind the information you received from the users.


That’s it! We believe that these impressive MVP examples will inspire you to start your own Startup development.

And if you are looking for a Tech Partner in Crime to build your next world-famous product, contact us and we’ll do our best to help you!

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