June 2, 2021
Examples of Minimum Viable Products
As we’ve seen, an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is a proven way to minimize risk and gain greater clarity on your product’s viability and desirability. 3Pillar Global has worked with a wide range of successful products that demonstrate the MVP’s value as a critical link in the chain of Agile production.
In this article, you’ll learn how our collaboration helped improve product processes, features, and performance. In fact, the MVP was foundational to the ultimate success of these products. We’ll also take a look at some famous products that began life as stripped-down MVPs.
A Look at Some 3Pillar Global MVP Projects
CARFAX For Police
CARFAX is the leading vehicle history report service in North America. Over time, the company has transformed from a fax-based system to a digital-first approach. 3Pillar has been CARFAX’s product development partner for nine years, during which time Carfax has amassed over one million users on the used car listings app and 500k+ downloads of the myCARFAX app.
The Challenge: CARFAX wanted to expand from the private sector—helping car dealers and consumers with reports on their vehicles—and venture into the public sector with an app to support police officers in the U.S. and Canada. Before CARFAX for Police, officers either had to record accident information manually or rely on outdated and possibly inaccurate digital information.
The Goal: Provide officers with a standardized digital application to collect and share accident reports.
The Approach: The 3Pillar team leveraged user research, design prototyping, interviews, and prototype testing to learn fast and uncover the minimum viable feature set, never forgetting who comes first: the customer.
Bernie Doone, Director of Information Services at 3Pillar, says, “Importantly, we served as champions of the customer and influenced CARFAX’s thinking on what the MVP product needed to be in order to drive adoption.” Then, explains Jonathan Hotz, Senior Manager of Product Development, CARFAX used the MVP to “evaluate the workflow of capturing accident information for police officers.”
The Outcome: CARFAX for Police now empowers officers to capture robust, accurate data and file it with the state reporting authority at the scene of the accident. And the numbers don’t lie: CARFAX is reducing report completion times by about 50 percent.
A Leading Research Company Consumer Technographic
This firm is a respected research and advisory firm with a global reputation. They work with tech and business leaders to facilitate growth through customer-focused insights and strategies.
The Challenge: Because of the stagnant stage of its legacy product, the company was experiencing a downward trend in user engagement and a subsequent loss in revenue. They needed to address this trend and boost product engagement while solving customer needs, which included an upgraded website search function.
The Goal: Implement new features and functionalities that would help reverse negative engagement trends and reduce the risk of user attrition.
The Approach: Bernie Doone says the 3Pillar team used a similar approach to the successful methodologies they use with CARFAX. In other words, the team prioritized the customer and used rigorous testing and product management techniques to uncover existing pain points. Then, they validated their assumptions with an MVP and built out a collaborative roadmap that incorporated stakeholder feedback.
The Outcome: The new-and-improved customer insights platform the 3Pillar team helped develop is “another success story,” according to Doone. In quantitative terms, it means high customer NPS and a 20 percent increase in existing product revenue.
DecisionLens Classic uses an analytic hierarchy process to make complex decisions about financial portfolios and investment strategies. It’s well suited for government and large, mature companies such as Boeing, thanks in part to its slow and measured decision process.
The Challenge: The company realized that the product, then simply called DecisionLens, wasn’t well suited for the commercial market. One troubling indication: Commercial clients were not renewing their contracts.
The Goal: Create a more dynamic product that would be able to shorten the decision-making process, and in so doing, be better suited for the rapid pace of the commercial market.
The Approach: The 3Pillar team realized they could not build on top of the old product; a PoC (Proof of Concept) was needed to convince their stakeholders of the feasibility of the idea. This was a success, and the decision was made to create an MVP. The whole team then focused on building the MVP and integrating the old and the new app, now called DecisionLens Accelerate. Cassi Lup, Senior Manager of Product Development, describes the project’s trajectory: “[It] started as an MVP based on a B2B product offering and resulted in a completely new B2C offering by DecisionLens.”
The Outcome: In the fourth quarter of 2019, 3Pillar finished in time for a soft launch that landed DecisionLens one of the biggest commercial clients in their portfolio. The official release for the new product was in Q2 of 2020. Without 3Pillar’s help, DecisionLens wouldn’t have been able to finish the MVP and go to market in a timely manner. Plans are in the works to merge DecisonsLens Classic and Accelerate into one product, with the help of the 3Pillar team.
Fortune magazine launched in 1930 and was the brainchild of Henry Luce, a co-founder of Time Inc. Today, the Fortune Media Group is a multinational corporation that publishes a range of respected business media. Fortune Connect, a membership platform for mid-career professionals, launched in October 2020. In the words of Diana Sabau, Technical Manager at 3Pillar Global, the platform is “designed to give rising leaders the skills, confidence, and network to drive change in the world and at their companies.” It does this through a combination of self-guided learning, journalism from Fortune’s expert business journalists, and weekly networking events.
The Challenge: Launch the MVP within an aggressive timeframe that was accelerated by the pandemic.
The Goal: Fortune wanted to meet its 2020 financial goals—despite the pandemic’s adverse effects—with help from the new membership platform.
The Approach: To shape the creation of the MVP, the 3Pillar team began by winnowing down the list of proposed features to a manageable set. “We negotiated and selected a cohesive subset of [features] that were valuable enough to users and could be presented by Fortune to potential customers [who could then] sign membership contracts with them for a group of their aspirational executives,” Diana Sabau explains.
Sabau says that the 3Pillar team went above and beyond to help Fortune achieve their goals and minimize time to value, support the production team, define what Connect could be at launch, and adjust to constantly changing requirements. Using the Agile framework of rapid iteration, the 3Pillar team took the MVP from concept to market in a mere 6 months. In fact, Sabau elaborates, “If we check the first commit in Github, it is impressive to say that our team managed to collaborate, build, and deploy to production a fully functioning product in just four months!”
The Outcome: The Connect MVP’s rapid deployment helped Fortune meet its fiscal goals in the midst of a pandemic. The CTO of Fortune’s letter to the 3Pillar team is further proof of the success of this project: “We’ve built the right product at the right time, and the process of innovation and doing the unknown will transform Fortune. […] The Fortune executive team thinks you are all magic.”
Other Famous MVPs
Look around you, and you’ll discover that most of the products you use regularly—if not daily—began life as MVPs. And depending on your age, you may even remember their early, more minimalist incarnations.
Some famous MVPs include:
- Facebook: It’s a behemoth now, with approximately 2.8 billion monthly active users, but Mark Zuckerberg’s Billion Dollar Idea began modestly in 2004 as a bare-bones way to connect college students via a message board.
- Foursquare: This app didn’t start out as the complete city guide it is now. In 2009, the MVP featured just one gamified function—people could check in to certain locations with the hope of winning badges.
- Groupon: These days, you can get a deal on just about anything on Groupon. Shop for anything from facials to meals to treadmills. But the e-commerce giant began more humbly in 2008 as an MVP landing page for people to subscribe to a weekly PDF email of coupons.
- Dropbox: Today, Dropbox has over 700 million registered users, but the file upload giant began as a simple video MVP created in 2007 by Lean Startup founder Eric Ries. The video walked potential users and investors through the benefits of the proposed product. Thanks to the MVP, signups increased from 5,000 to 75,000.
- Amazon: It’s hard to imagine the online shopping giant as a minimum anything, but Amazon’s MVP was actually just a simple online bookstore. Founder Jeff Bezos researched the top 20 products that could be sold on the internet. He winnowed this list down to five products, including videos, CDs, and computer software. But he decided that books were the most marketable idea and launched the MVP in 1995. The rest, as they say, is history.
The list of famous MVPs could go on and on. Lindsay Kloepping, Director of Product Strategy at 3Pillar, correctly points out, “Most of the popular consumer-facing products you see today started as MVPs.” Clearly, creating a Minimum Viable Product is a step you shouldn’t skip if you’re looking for rapid, low-risk validation about the value of your product.
At 3Pillar Global, we strive to minimize time to value, solve for a real need, and excel at change. Creating an MVP puts these foundational principles into practice. Learn more about 3Pillar’s services and how we can help you create a minimum viable product to test and validate your assumptions with real customers by contacting an expert today.
Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.
FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.