Why “Minimum” should be “Billable”

The Billable Viable Product model is the future for Lean Startup techniques because customers have become wary of giving their time to an MVP. My Traction to Revenue Process chart is a helpful guide to the steps involved.

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) model has long been touted as an efficient lean startup technique that can save companies massive amounts of resources, in terms of both money and time. The MVP model poses a series of challenges that make it important to quickly morph the MVP into the Billable Viable Product model. A BVP doesn’t allow for complacency because you have an obligation to your clients to fulfill and exceed their expectations — an obligation that’s non-existent with MVP.

With BVP, you don’t have the luxury of beating around the bush and avoiding the very essential topic of money. Unlike MVP, where you ask customers for help and advice without any quid pro quo, with BVP, your founders are out there, telling customers that they can try this great product for a limited time for free (during the pilot) and then they will have to pay for it.

This approach means you’ll either start making money a lot faster than if you took the MVP route, or you’ll fail fast. And the faster you fail, the less resources you waste and the faster you can move on to another idea that may be more viable.

It also doesn’t hurt that it keeps everyone focused on the most important thing, which is you’re doing what you’re doing to make money. Yes, you want to help people. We all do, but in the end, we all also have to make money, and by staying focused on that goal, you’ll either achieve it or fail much faster.

The market and the consumer has evolved to the point where a MVP on its own can actually do more harm than good. Launching half-baked products that are more idea than product can damage your startup’s commercial viability to the point where you might as well pack up and go home. The market today has expectations and has become cynical about testing MVPs.

So, while the MVP will not truly become obsolete, it is no longer viable as a lean startup technique on its own. Instead, MVP should quickly morph to that of a BVP model, which will not only help you meet market expectations, but also help you find out sooner rather than later whether your idea is commercially viable.

The Traction to Revenue Process by Greg Twemlow — read more