Sometimes, all you need for a successful startup is a simple idea and a (very) basic MVP (Minimum Viable Product). In this article, we’ll look at some very simple MVPs that won the startup game. We’ll see how they used simple tools, like WordPress, to start their businesses.
I’m sure there are wayyy more interesting examples out there. I’ll add the most interesting ones here as I find them.
Even though I have no illusions about creating a billion dollar business, I’ve also created my first personal MVP as well: Coffee Radar. By the time you’re reading this, maybe it’s not an MVP anymore. 🙂
Some interesting MVP examples, with an initial basic website
The MVP of Dropbox wasn’t a product at all, it was a video! Drew Houston, one of the co-founders of Dropbox, recorded a video to capture and demonstrate the functionality of the envisioned product. He then directed interested users to a form to join a waiting list. In his case, his video was an immediate success, and was crucial for Dropbox to understand if the market had enough interest for its product.
Rather then starting with a big investment, Nick Swinmurn created a simple website, to post pictures of shoes he personally photographed at a local mall. When a customer placed an order, he would head back to the store to purchase the product, and then send it to the customer himself. Despite this wasn’t a sustainable business idea, it helped Nick gauge interest for his e-commerce website. Roughly 10 years later Amazon purchased Zappos for $1.2 billion.
Some interesting MVP examples, initially built with WordPress
When it first began, Airbnb was nothing more than a simple WordPress blog. Co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, both product designers, put out a simple offer: guests could sleep on air mattresses in their living room and benefit from complimentary WiFi and breakfast.
They aimed their service at a particular market: attendees of conferences in San Francisco. Their initial website had limited functionality – there were no options for choosing multiple dates, pinpointing precise locations, or filtering by price.
Once they saw that their concept – leasing out their own apartment – had traction, they expanded the idea. Chesky and Gebbia decided to create a platform where others could also host guests, paving the way for the global Airbnb network we know today, currently valued at 94+ billion (July 2023).
Groupon, started as a simple WordPress website in November 2008. The core idea was to feature deals from local businesses. These deals were time-limited and appealed to bargain hunters. Users interested in accessing these discounts were asked to subscribe. In turn, Groupon sent them their desired coupons in the form of PDFs via email.
Roughly 2 years later, in April 2010, the company was valued at$1.35 billion.