They Build MVP First. How to Start Minimum Viable Product in Software Development

Yana Troianska

July 13, 2017

Experience of implementing MVP can be different, it may be positive, negative, and even painful. But we want to share success stories of implementing MVP from the world’s top companies. 

The main purpose of this article is to present a collection of different opinions, success stories, and useful resources which describe the minimum viable product concept.
In other words, it is a cost-effective approach that helps business test a product idea by receiving feedback from early adopters.

Minimum Viable Product

  1. What is a minimum viable product?
    An MVP is a product with minimal features deployed to early adopters to get feedback.
  2. The most important thing about any new product is that it…
    Solves problem! Potential users have to view your product as a solution to their problems.
  3. What is the first thing you should work out before building a minimum viable product?
    Before proceeding, you should determine if potential users care about your product.
  4. What type of customers is an MVP aimed at?
    Early adopters. They’re likely to buy or try your MVP and give their feedback on how the product could be improved or changed.
  5. What is the most important feedback you need from early adopters?
    At this stage, you want early adopters to help determine which features need changing and which ones you should add or remove.

Here are three case studies of companies that successfully followed the MVP approach.

Case #1. Dropbox

Minimum Viable Product

Drew Houston, the CEO of Dropbox
Drew Houston made an extremely easy-to-use file-sharing tool. You can install its application, and a Dropbox folder will appear on your computer desktop. Anything you drag into that folder is uploaded automatically to the Dropbox service and instantly synchronized and replicated across all your devices.

Drew faced the following challenge: it was impossible to demo working software in the prototype. The product has technical barriers for the end users, like online components that require high reliability and availability. To overcome the probable risk of developing a product that nobody wanted, Drew made something that nobody expected – he made a video.

The video was the minimum viable product. Drew recounted, “It drove hundreds of thousands of people to the website. Our beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people overnight. It blew us away.”
Real signed-ups validated Drew’s product idea and proved its value.

Case#2. Airbnb

Minimum Viable Product

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia faced a problem renting a San Francisco apartment, especially after the landlord raised the rental price. Guys found a design conference coming to the town, and hotel places were sold out.

The initial idea was to provide cheap accommodation for attendees. Brian and Joe took pictures of their apartment and uploaded them on the simple website. They had three guests from India, Boston, and Utah. Originally such a step was a proof of concept, which disrupted the accommodation industry. Check out this article to learn more about how Airbnb scaled up to a worldwide service.

Case #3. Buffer

Minimum Viable Product

Joel Gascoigne, CEO at Buffer:
One problem with a single feature. Joel believed that a single feature was worth the whole application. The main idea was to build a way to queue up tweets without scheduling each tweet separately. He found himself spamming people with more than five tweets at once while reading tech and startup news. Existing apps which the market offered at that time hadn’t been implemented, and he felt that it was time to build them himself.

He followed Eric Ries principle of the lean startup (Eric Ries.The Lean Startup). By running a small test, he launched a two-page Minimum Viable Product and tweeted the link asking followers what they thought about it. That’s how he made the first validation.

The full story behind Buffer MVP you can read here.

Key insights:

Minimum Viable Product

MVP tests will answer technical questions about your product. Crucially, they will also help you determine if your core products are something users want and need.

Don’t spend months (or years!) perfecting a product without ever showing it, even in very basic form, to potential users. You need their feedback.

Releasing MVPs to early adopters will tell you what you need to change and help you do it quickly.

Check out the interview with our client from Studio Ninja, who also started his project with MVP


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