Successful MVP Cases and Their Hard Lessons Learned. Part 1

9 March 2020 Writer: Lera Grechanik 2342 views

You should have already been familiar with the MVP concept, still it can be not clear enough how it should be used and what benefits as a business owner you’ll get. One of the best choices is to jump straight to real examples. You probably know that market leaders use the MVP concept while developing their product, what helps us learn from their mistakes and achievements. So, let’s get started.

Airbnb: a problem before the solution

An initial version of the Airbnb website has almost nothing to do with the picture you see now. But this version is a classic example of MVP turned to business.

The question about the “minimum” is one of the essential ones for almost all startups. To get clear and detailed answer one can check Airbnb’s case.

The project first appeared back in 2007. It was just  “a few bucks decision” of two friends from San Francisco. Basically, they considered an IDSA Conference an event huge enough to bring visitors to the city. So why not to get some profit? As far these events always have issues with hotel accommodation availability, the guys decided to provide some kind of alternative to visitors. They created a simple website just to promote an offer.

Airbnb first website

Airbnb's first website

This page is a Minimum Viable Product itself. There are only key features – no options, no interactivity. Everything is simple and clear. Still, there are all essential fields to make it work – contacts, addresses, some pictures.

And it was enough to attract 3 customers and get $240. The guys did not wake up as millionaires the next day, but they definitely fortuned a goldmine.

Inspired by the previous success, the guys tried once again during the 2008 Democratic National Convention and 2008 SXSW. They were also trying to reach the investors though, however, their attempts were not that successful.

The whole story changed in 2009 when the startup got its first major investment - $600,000. So the work started. Among the main steps was a redesign of the website, renaming (when they changed the name to Airbnb as a more laconic), and implementing a new approach to collaboration with property owners. So now we all have one of the most famous MVP website examples. What lessons we can learn?

An MVP can help you validate your idea but you’ll have to look for growth opportunities on your own

One of the most common mistakes is to think that if your MVP did not bring you thousands of dollars in a day it is a complete fail. But, honestly, MVP is not about that. It is, first of all, about the product validation. It lets you figure out if the product is needed at all. But after you come to a certain decision everything is just starting.

Airbnb MVP

MVPs can be used to validate different parts of your Startup

MVP is a simple way to validate your idea or the solution. But we recommend to begin with the idea validation, as far there’s no reason to create a solution to the issue no one has or cares about. So there’s no need to pay more.

But let’s return to the story. The first version of the website was, in fact, just a try, an attempt to test the problem. In short, it sounds “Would people want to stay at someone’s home instead of a hotel? Would they pay for it?”

But do we consider their MVP as a solution? Well, not exactly. There was no option to choose between the properties, no reviews, no booking or online payment.  But as soon as they added some features they moved to solution validation. In other words, they were simply checking if the product solves the problem with the minimum set of features. As soon as this step is processed, the project can be considered an MVP software example.

Read also: How Much Does MVP development cost Cost in 2022?

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Dropbox: the marketing trick that changed everything

Dropbox is often put into the same list as Airbnb and called a typical MVP. It clearly shows that it is important not just to develop a high-quality product but to reach your target audience and make it hear you.

Like many other startups, the idea of Dropbox appeared out of personal experience. Drew Houston got tired of moving the data between different devices. And the day, when he forgot his flash drive and was close to despair, was the exact way when Dropbox was born.

The task was tricky from the very beginning. The thing was in hardware infrastructure building to ensure full implementation. Another issue was integration with different devices. In short, the product required a lot of work and was very time-consuming. It would be an irrational waste of time to develop something that no one would need. However, it was something, Drew Houston could not create all alone.

In fact, the idea was appreciated, but Houston needed a co-founder. And he found the person after releasing a demo. Later fortune smiled to the guys – Michael Moritz noticed them and provided the project with $1.2 million for further development. The product was launched in a year.

The company decided to attract new users with short demos. They did not talk about the features, did not compare the product with the competitors. Instead, they focused on showing the real use cases. Just what it can do and what can be used for. They say it is better to see than hear. And it worked. The videos went viral, attracting new and new users. Bingo!

There was a referral program as well. And, surprisingly, it turned out to be even more successful. According to the program, both a referral and a new user got extra space after registration. Thus a new wave of shares appeared, granting a 100% organic growth rate. This made Dropbox a company we know today.

Dropbox first website

A good Product with no promo is a bad Product

All Startups have one in common – a challenge, and it is not even creating a good product. This part is relatively easy. The real challenge is to find a channel to promote itself and get in touch with customers. Dropbox made it perfectly. 

It is also true that small startups are limited in resources and can’t afford to pour money into advertising. The solution is viral content, providing the product with a lot of organic traffic. However, it is much cheaper to create.

Look for Startup ideas around. Literally

If you look at both these stories of success, you will simply catch one thing in common they have – both projects came from experience. Remember it while thinking about your own startup. You can get a lot of advantages just trying to solve some common issues. In other words, you get a better understanding of the problem in general. To know something from the inside is useful – you become aware of any smallest detail.

Another juicy point is a couple of potential customers on the list from the beginning. Yes, they can hardly be considered a source for MVP validation, they still provide you with feedback.

At last, motivation. Working on something that touches you personally always turns out to be more productive. Simply because forgetting the flash driver at home all the time you can really go wild.

We are providing you with the other famous examples of MVP in the next article! Hope, you’ve already got at least a few handy ideas on your own startup development.

Looking for a Tech Partner in Crime to provide you MVP app development services? Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to build your next Web or Mobile Product!

Areas of responsibility - brand and growth marketing. Strongly believes that software development is an art and marketing is not just about sales but about sharing your passion. Her educational background in the field of business and marketing allows her to create expert content and help others to grow and expand knowledge.

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