The Top Ten Examples of a Successful Minimum Viable Product

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von René Reichelt
08.03.2022 - Lesezeit: 14 Minuten

With so many startups in the market these days, it can be difficult to get a foothold. Many fail to make the jump and face failure. To avoid this, it's a good idea to start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This saves costs and resources, and the product offered is optimized and further developed with the help of useful customer feedback. In this way, the start-up can see right from the start whether it is on the right track with its idea and can react quickly and efficiently in the event of problems.

We have picked out ten examples that illustrate the importance of an MVP. Before we look at them, we first need to clarify what exactly a Minimum Viable Product is and what should be considered.

What is an MVP and what is it used for?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a minimalistic but fully functional version of a product, digital interface or service. This first stage of development is used to attract early adopters and validate the idea.

An MVP initially offers only core functions without additional elements. It thus concentrates on the essential features and tests directly with users whether and how they are accepted. With the help of initial customer feedback, the product can be adapted, optimized and further developed accordingly, without possibly "wasting" useful resources and financial means in advance by setting the wrong focus.

After Frank Robinson was the first to formulate the concept of the MVP in 2001, it became known primarily through the further execution of the American Eric Ries. In 2008, the latter developed the so-called Lean Startup method, which gave rise to an innovative movement among entrepreneurs. The basic idea of this movement is to learn from practice and to base the further development of one's own offering as far as possible on user feedback. In this way, Ries wants to help start-ups achieve success faster and more effectively.

Advantages of a Minimum Viable Product:

  • The quintessence of the product is in focus and is also clearly recognized by employees, enabling them to work more efficiently on its implementation.

  • The product can be quickly introduced to the market and directly used by early adopters.

  • Low financial risk

  • Possibility of optimally adapting the product to users' needs through immediate feedback, while the development process is still progressing.

Things to keep in mind:

Even if the MVP is only a "short version" of the final product, it must really be fully functional. In particular, make sure that the product is technically stable (if it is a digital/technical offering or the product is advertised digitally) and that the user experience is well thought out and cleanly implemented. In addition, women entrepreneurs should have already thought further ahead than just to the launch of the Minimum Viable Product. What do we do if factor XY is criticized by users? How do we proceed then, what could be possible solutions for any problems? The readiness to act as soon as problems arise must be given and planned for.

As imperfect as this first version of the product may be, it must still manage to inspire its users and convince them to continue using it in the long term. The target group is rightly demanding and will not forgive problems just because a product is still in its infancy. To fail because of glitches like technical inaccuracies or inconsistencies in the user experience is infuriating. Ultimately, it destroys the essential first impression that sticks in the customer's mind.

When not to use an MVP:

Too soon: A Minimum Viable Product is not to be understood as a prototype that one carelessly brings to the market in order to "just test it". It also does not replace usability testing and prototyping. The development of an MVP should always be well thought out. The product does not have to be complete, but it must be ready to be actively presented to customers and offered for use. Until you are really sure that you have fully understood the quintessence of your product and have implemented it in such a way that the user derives a clear benefit from it that impresses him, it is usually not worth releasing an MVP.

Too high a risk: Is it a product that serves a niche that no one has addressed before? Here you have to weigh things up carefully: Does it make sense to release the offering while it is still in the development phase? If the initial offering phase fails or major problems arise from it, how quickly can we act and release an optimized version? What an MVP should not do is directly scare off the niche served accordingly and lose it for itself. In the worst case, imitators will be found who will quickly offer the idea in a modified, optimized form if proper advance planning and thinking has not been done.

Safe idea: The idea being offered has already been validated elsewhere and poses no particular risk? If this is really the case and the product will function so "foolproof" on the market, there is also no need to launch a "short version" in advance. Then it's better to go straight to market with the "big bang" when everything is already optimized. Small details can always be adjusted afterwards based on user feedback.

Attention, risk of confusion - the difference to the Proof of Concept.

The Proof of Concept (PoC) is often confused with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Caution is advised here, because anyone developing an MVP should already have dealt with the PoC in detail.

A Proof of Concept validates that the demand for a certain product/service etc. actually exists and that it is worth investing in. At this point, no customers are involved yet.

In the case of the Minimum Viable Product, this validation has already taken place, because the corresponding product has already been developed on this basis. The next step is to validate whether the implementation has been successful or whether improvements need to be made.

Let's assume, for example, that a startup wants to open a vegan ice cream parlor. In the PoC, it determines that demand for it is particularly high in district XY of a certain city. So, in principle, it is a good idea to invest in a vegan ice cream parlor. Now the MVP is launched, but the start-up only offers three very extravagant flavors and only oat milk for milkshakes. The feedback from customers shows that more varieties are desired, including "standard varieties" in the vegan version and more choices for the milk. The start-up can now expand its range based on this feedback.

Types of MVPs

1. Software prototypes

Prototypes of a software with its core functions are complex to create, but make up the most common MVPs. In this case, the software is constantly advanced and continuously adapted in agile development.

2. Product designs

Especially for digital solutions such as software or apps, it makes sense to create sketches or more complex wireframes as an MVP. Such a mockup can be used to optimally show how the finished product will look and function.

3. Demo videos

In the form of demonstrative videos, the product can be explained particularly easily and well. From the reactions of the users, helpful conclusions can be drawn about the development of the offer.

4. Landing pages

A landing page offers a quick and relatively uncomplicated solution to introduce the new product to a broad mass of users in a short and concise way. By means of a call-to-action (e.g., users can be notified by e-mail about updates to the product), interest and potential willingness to buy can be measured at the same time.

5. Piecemeal

For a Piecemeal MVP, elements of existing tools are brought together to illustrate how the final product will work.

6. Concierge

The Concierge MVP simulates a personalized software solution that is initially controlled manually by developers. Before the complex digital process is developed, it can be tested whether there is sufficient interest among female customers at all and how the product idea is received by them. In practice, this could look like this: for example, in a platform for product recommendations, the recommendations are first compiled manually by employees instead of an automated, AI-supported selection. The user is educated that she is testing a still preliminary, manually controlled process.

7. Wizard of Oz.

Similar to Concierge, the Wizard of Oz MVP involves manually controlling a fully functional product for the time being. To the outside world, however, it looks as if the product is already finished and all processes are automated. The user is not aware that the offering is still in the test phase and has not yet been fully developed. This type of MVP is particularly suitable for complex technological offerings that require a lot of time and financial effort in development. It is a way to ensure that all the effort will be worth it and how the process needs to work.

10 Examples of Minimum Viable Products

1. Airbnb

When former classmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia moved to San Francisco in 2007, they were struggling to pay the rent. A simple idea emerged: they rented out their apartment to attendees of a design conference who couldn't get a hotel room. They created a simple website, uploaded pictures of their apartment and soon had three paying customers. Thus began the journey of Airbnb, which was then called AirBed&Breakfast. Today, Airbnb is estimated to be worth around $18 billion (source:

2. Dropbox

Dropbox's founders, Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston, designed their MVP simply. Without having developed anything yet, they shot a demo video. In it, they explained the features of their planned product and received positive feedback. Dropbox was developed and reached its top estimated value of $12 billion so far in 2018 (source:

The founders' approach to their MVP, mind you, came with a risk: After all, a simple video alone does not guarantee success. Just because users express interest on the basis of a demo, the actual handling/use of the end product can still fail the user. This consideration should therefore be kept in mind when taking the "easy way out" of a pure demonstration before any development.

3. Etsy

Colleagues Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, Jared Tarbell and Haim Schoppik were working as freelance website programmers for a craft forum. When users complained that eBay's fees were too expensive and that it was too complicated to use, the idea for Etsy was born. The eBay platform served as a proof of concept for the founders that the demand was there, and based on the feedback in the forum, they were able to directly optimize problems from eBay for their own site. They created a simple and sparsely designed website that attracted thousands of users in the first few days. As of 2020, Etsy has over three million active sellers, generating a net profit of $96.4 million in the second quarter of 2020 (Source:

4. Spotify

The core function Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon focused on for their MVP was the pure, flawless function of streaming music. They wanted to be the best at that - and they succeeded. After testing the desktop app they developed on friends and family, they made the beta version available to select music bloggers in Sweden. They loved it, and Spotify became popular. Today, Spotify boasts 299 million monthly users and 138 million premium subscribers (Source: Translated

5. Amazon

It's hard to imagine life without the "big A" these days. But Amazon, too, started truly small. In 1994, Jeff Bezos sensed his opportunity with the emerging popularity of the Internet. Where about every conceivable product in the world is available today, the young Bezos focused on a special niche back then: he sold books online.

Instead of setting up a complicated online store directly, he focused on the core function and his niche, developed a simple, rudimentary website - and succeeded.

6. Instagram

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom had to learn from mistakes with his MVP. The previous version of the now popular platform was called Burbn and had numerous functions and features. Users were confused by the MVP and hardly used the app. One feature, however, excited users - the ability to share photos.

Systrom completely overhauled the app and reduced it to its core functions: sharing, liking and commenting on photos. Instagram thus serves as both a negative and a positive example: Negative in the sense that Systrom didn't set a focus for his MVP at the beginning, and positive in the sense that he truly made the most of customer feedback and successfully turned the tide, so to speak.

7. Facebook

Today, Mark Zuckerberg unites several social media platforms under the name Meta, such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. But Facebook started in 2004 as a tiny platform in Zuckerberg's room on the Harvard campus. The website Zuckerberg developed originally served as a universal directory to connect Harvard students exclusively. A few months later, Facebook had already become so popular that the platform was expanded to three other prestigious universities: Yale, Stanford and Columbia.

In 2005, more universities were added, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand, and over 25,000 students from various countries. Finally, Facebook became publicly available in 2006. The platform now has 2.5 billion monthly users (source:

8. Apple - The first iPhone

It may be hard to believe, but Apple's first-generation iPhone can also be considered a Minimum Viable Product. Of course, significantly more resources and funding were spent on this to develop the MVP. Nevertheless, the first-generation iPhone confirms one principle of the MVP: it was reduced to its core functions.

The first iPhone had a limited number of apps to offer, without the ability to download new ones. There was no notification function, nor could you copy and paste text, and the iPhone was contractually tied to a carrier with a minimum two-year term.

However, Apple was not interested in launching the perfect new mobile device directly onto the market. The goal was to find out whether customers would accept the idea of a cell phone with an on-screen keyboard, as well as the ulterior motive of a single device for everything (instead of a cell phone, iPod, etc., as before). The goal was achieved, users embraced the idea, and so in 2008, just one year later, the iPhone 3G was launched, offering new and better features.

9. Groupon

Groupon's founder, Andrew Mason, had to accept failure before he focused on the essentials, started from scratch and successfully launched Groupon within a month.

For Groupon's predecessor, The Point, Mason spent nearly a year doggedly realizing his vision and implementing the platform exactly as he ideally envisioned it. Users didn't embrace his vision, however, and The Point failed. But Mason learned from his mistakes and started over. For Groupon, he initially worked with a simple WordPress blog where he posted daily. Coupons at the time were emailed manually as PDFs. Groupon became a success.

10. Uber

In 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had an idea: offer cab services as cheaply as possible. They developed a simple, fast and cheap MVP solution and matched drivers with iPhone owners in San Francisco, who weren't afraid to allow credit card payments in an unfamiliar app.

Two years later, entrepreneur Ryan Graves responded to a tweet from Travis Kalanick seeking employees for Uber. Graves later became the first CEO of Uber, which reported net assets of $75.5 billion in 2019.


All these MVP examples make clear the immense importance of a Minimum Viable Product and how uncomplicated and fast you can achieve success with it if you have a good strategy. If you follow the most important principles, focus on the problem of your target group and the corresponding solution, reduce the product to its core functions and implement them in a carefully thought-out way, you can turn an MVP into a popular business. The MVP examples also show how important feedback from actual users is and how much it can pay off to learn from failures and mistakes.

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