Even the biggest brands in the world had to start somewhere. Most began with a basic minimal viable product (MVP) to test how an audience would react. None of the below really need any explanation about where they are today, but here’s more about their humble beginnings.
In 2004 ‘The Facebook’ was being tested out by 19-year-old Mark Zuckerburg as a social networking service for his peers. In his own words because, “I just figured it would be really cool if there was some website that I could go to that would tell me a bunch of information about my friends and the people around me.”
Starting off as a directory with contact profiles and a message board for Harvard students only, before growing into the version used by 2.96 billion that we all know and love/hate today.
Back in October 2007 cash-strapped Joe Gebbia and Brian Cesky realised that there was a massive shortage of hotel rooms in San Francisco and a big conference was on its way. They whipped up a simple website, Airbedandbreakfast.com, and managed to charge three guests $80 each to sleep in airbeds on the floor of their apartment. And that’s how the $38 billion website with six million listings in 191 countries began…
Starting life as an MVP in 2009 under the name ‘Ubercab’, founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp wanted to test if there was much demand for a ride-hailing app. With just a small number of cars in their fleet and an invitation-only service for San Francisco and New York, it focused on one feature only – booking a ride with their location. The features you know and rely on today – real-time tracking, split the fare, multiple drop-off locations – eventually followed.
This global sensation started out in 2008 as a small start-up with only one function: it allowed you to listen to music without downloading to your device. This feature was Spotify’s MVP. Its beta testers were a handful of influential Swedish music bloggers who loved the experience and spread the word about this revolutionary app.
Etsy was born in 2005 out of a common complaint of the time – eBay fees. Founders Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik came up with an alternative, fairer version for craft sellers and managed to get a ready and usable platform in just 2.5 months. A very simple version that focused on small bespoke crafters and their products with no sales fees for the first month.
Monzo began as a prepaid card service. It was built with products that already all existed. The first MVP rolled out in 2017 was an API that simply let you move money around and do what other banks’ digital platforms did not do at its time of launch – track your spending habits. This led to the creation of one of UK’s best online-only banks.
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