When startup owners hear about starting with an MVP, most seem sceptical about the idea. They want to present a fully functional product to their clients. Although it’s better to start small and improve your product during ongoing journey rather than waste your time and money without gathering even feedback from users. Using an MVP is a great opportunity to discover the needs of the market and in creating a successful product. Below are the top five companies that started with an MVP and have grown worldwide.
Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston, was aware of the strong competition on the market resulting from the many cloud storage start-ups available online. Before having any real product Dropbox released a “barebone” website. It had a short 30 second video describing the idea of their cloud storage, and showing why it was different from the other products available on the market. They collected over 70,000 email addresses in one day – that’s impressive, right?! The power of good marketing, together with a great product idea, is the key to success. After receiving plenty of positive feedback, Houston knew what he should pay more attention to and improve on, which allowed the Dropbox team to validate their product and release it soon after the video was launched.
Twittr – the original name of one of the leading social network platforms today – was initially designed for Odeo employees. They were able to send messages to other employees or create group conversations. And you know what? There wasn’t anything like hashtags or replies back then. All that came after Business Insider noticed that Odeo employees began spending huge amounts of their own money on monthly SMS bills. Funny, huh? The company asked their employees to test the product and ended up with people paying to use Twittr. It wasn’t hard to see the market potential – hence, we witnessed the foundation of Twitter on July 15, 2006.
It all started back in 2007 when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had a desire to run their own business. They were struggling to pay the rent for their apartment in San Francisco. At that time there was going to be a design conference in town; and as you know, big conferences attract a large amount of people from all over the world. They decided to share their apartment with some visiting travelers, who would normally have accommodation in nearby hotels. Firstly they took a few pictures of their loft and posted them on a simple website. Soon they received inquiries from attendees of the conference as to whether their offer was still available. That was how they discovered a potential niche in the market. People prefer a warm homely atmosphere rather than renting room in hostel or hotel. Their MVP helped them to examine the market and customer needs.
The CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason, started his great adventure with a website called ‘The Point’. The idea of the platform was quite similar to today’s Groupon. It was a place to bring people together so that they could do things they couldn’t do as a single unit – like fundraising or striking. Unfortunately, it didn’t get a lot of attention. That is why Andrew decided to go in a slightly different direction, while sticking to the general idea of the platform. By using the same domain, he started running a WordPress blog called ‘The Daily Groupon’. He was posting daily deals, and when somebody asked for a specific deal he would generate a PDF file and send it to them via email. Instead of spending money on creating a new product he used the existing website. He then created an MVP to test if people would be interested in the product he was offering.
If you are a music lover you should try Spotify – that is if you are not using it already. Today they have over 60 million subscribers. But it wasn’t always like that. According to Henrik Kniberg, who is an Agile and Lean Startup consultant, Spotify uses a 4-stage iterative product cycle:
Think It – First, you have to decide on the product you are going to work on, and then build a prototype so you can test it.
Build It – Build a real MVP and give it to users to test.
Ship It – Collect data and improve, while gradually releasing your MVP.
Tweak It – Collect feedback and improve your product until it is complete.