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Why A Minimum Viable Product Is Important For Startups

Why A Minimum Viable Product Is Important For Startups

An MVP allows you to quickly launch your product in front of customers

Based on real feedback from customers, you can iterate and improve your product

By launching quickly, you can also focus on marketing and sales to grow your product

Wikipedia defines the minimum viable product (MVP) as a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and to provide feedback for future product development.

In this blog, we are going to look at the minimum viable product of five successful Indian startups and see what they looked like when they launched.

1. Ola Cabs

Ola Cabs is valued at approximately $6.2 Bn, and along with Uber is one of India’s most used cab services. They are present in all the major cities in India, and you can choose from more than 11 different vehicle types from a bike to auto to a sedan to a luxury SUV and more. Yet, when they launched in 2010, they launched with a simple MVP which allowed them to test their product quickly.

Key takeaways from Ola’s minimum viable product

  • They launched in just one city – Mumbai.
  • Today you can choose different vehicles on their website – but when they launched, you could only select the pickup time and duration.
  • The website had a simple layout which only focussed on getting a user to book a cab, and also to give feedback.
  • They launched without an iPhone or Android app.

Launching on just the website (without mobile apps) would have allowed their development teams to build the product faster. And by focussing on just one city (Mumbai) with a limited number of cars, they could get their product to market quickly. Based on feedback from customers and seeing what works they could iterate quickly and improve their product.

2. Swiggy

Swiggy, one of the most popular food-tech startups in India was bootstrapped in August 2014. Below is one of the earliest designs of their home page.

Here are a few key takeaways from Swiggy’s minimum viable product

  • They launched in just 1 city – Bangalore. Compare this to today, where they are present in more than 270 cities in India.
  • In Bangalore, they offered their services in only 7 locations. And within these 7 locations, e.g. Indiranagar – they only offered delivery in pre-selected areas.
  • They launched with a simple website. If you look at the home page, there is no search box, which is common in almost all delivery websites.
  • They did not have an Android or an iPhone app.
  • The design of the home page focussed on function – one strong headline, three main features and the delivery areas. Nothing else.

The advantages of launching this way instead of a full-blown app with all the features is that they could launch faster. The MVP had fewer features, and therefore the development team required less time to build it. This means they could test their ideas, assumptions about the initial product quickly, and use that feedback to iterate and improve the product in the future.

3. Paytm

You can use Paytm to recharge anything from electricity to TV to broadband and more. Besides using Paytm as an online wallet, they also have Paytm Mall which is similar to an E-commerce store selling thousands of items via their website. Yet, when they launched they only offered one service.

Here are a few key takeaways from Paytm’s initial home page

  • The only offered one service when they launched – i.e to recharge your mobile phone. Nothing else.
  • The home page layout was simple – and focussed on converting the user.
  • They did not have an iPhone or an Android app when they launched.

The advantage of launching with such a clear, simple feature is that the development time to build the website is less. This would have allowed them to launch and test their assumptions quickly. From there, they could iterate and add more features to the website.

4. Oyo

The hotel aggregator, Oyo is currently present in more than 500+ cities and has more than 12,000 hotels listed on their website. Yet, similar to the other startups mentioned in this blog, they launched with a simple MVP.

Key takeaway from Oyo Rooms initial website

  • They launched in just Gurugram with around 10 hotels. Today they have more than 12,000 hotels on their website.
  • They launched on the web via a website without an iPhone or an Android app.
  • They launched with an enquiry form. There was no way you could pay and book the room via their website initially. You had to instead fill in your details via their enquiry form – and wait for someone to get in touch with you.

The advantage of launching in just one city, without payments is that the development time required to build the first version is much less than compared to building it with a proper booking form, plus other features. This allowed them to get their product to market quickly, and then iterate based on actual feedback from customers.

5. Grofers

Grofers is one of India’s largest online grocery delivery services and you can get anything delivered from fruits and vegetables to household needs to pet foods. Yet, when they launched – their vision was a little different and the website started as a simple idea of delivering products from different merchants to their customers.

Key takeaways from Grofers initial website:

  • They launched with just 5 merchants all in one area in Gurugram. This would have allowed them to handle deliveries with less staff.
  • Their website was simple and listed all the merchants they worked with.
  • They launched with a website and did not have mobile apps.  

All the 5 startups mentioned in this blog launched with a much simpler version of their product. The initial product focussed on a few key features to satisfy early customers, and also to collect feedback to iterate and improve the product. By launching with a simpler minimum viable product, you can also move from development and focus on marketing and sales which are equally important to grow your startup.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.