Concierge MVP or Service-First Forces You To Be Your Own Test Pilot

A concierge MVP or service -first approach delivers the benefits that your product offers as a service or consulting first, charging for the result not your time.

Concierge MVP or Service-First Forces You to Be Your Own Test Pilot

concierge mvp

A concierge MVP or service-first approach offers a number of advantages:

  1. It forces you to focus on customer value–what is the customer actually paying for:  if a prospect won’t pay you to put a set of holes in one of his walls he won’t buy your drill.
  2. It forces you to assume most of the risk in a deal with a prospect. If there are uncertainties about requirements or constraints you cannot ship the product “with some assembly required” if you are offering the result at as a service. If they don’t know how often they will use your product or if they can achieve the results you promise you drastically reduce this uncertainty by asking them to pay only for what is used.
  3. It forces you to move quickly down the learning curve on assessing and quantifying both the customer’s problem or needs and the likely impact of your product. If you are charging for the result, you cannot ask for payment after the product has passed some simple self-tests in the customer environment or a customer has completed the toy examples or training exercises you have bundled in. You have to focus on delivering a result that will have a positive impact on their business.

Example: New Products Are Like “Guest Room” Towels

I was reminded if this in reading a short story by William Eleazar Barton, “The Guest-Room Towels” in his book “Safed and Keturah.”


There came to me a man who said. The trouble with thee, and with the Church, and with all who labor with thee, is that thy Methods are Old. We are living in a New Age, and the Old Methods are Inadequate.

And I answered. Thou speaks truly, and perhaps wisely.

And he said. How is it that if what I say is Certainly True it is only Possibly Wise?

And I answered him, Because there are no kinds of unwisdom so great as those that are founded on Truth that is Ill Considered. What New Methods dost thou advocate?

And he Got Busy with a Line of Talk about his New Methods, that never had been tried anywhere, and which were certain of but one thing, that they never would work.

And he said. How dost thou like my New Methods?

And I said unto him,

I went to a certain city, and lodged with a friend who sent me to my bed in the Guest Chamber. And it was a Comfortable Chamber, and his wife had made it ready for my coming. And among the other Preparations, she had hung the towel-rack full of New Linen Towels, which she had purchased by the Dozen, and there were Six of them in my Room. And they were Very Nice Towels, and well worth the Price that she paid, for Linen was Going Up. But when I essayed to wipe my face upon them, then I could not do it. For those Towels were every one of them as Stiff and as Shiny as a Sheet of Tin, and likewise as Impervious to Water. So I mussed them up, one of them and yet another and another till I had polished my face with the Metallic Surface of all six of them.

And I said unto him, There must needs be New Methods, and I would not be last in the use of any of them that are good. Neither do I care to be the first to dry my face upon a New Towel. Let him that is ambitious for New Experiments try it before me, and after it hath gone to the Laundry and come back, less Shiny but more Serviceable, then will I try it.

It is enough for me that I must wear my own New Boots.

William Eleazar Barton, “The Guest-Room Towels” in his book “Safed and Keturah.”

How to Plan and Execute a Concierge MVP or Service-First Approach

Identify the “so what” or result that the customer will buy your product for. Another popular framework is “jobs-to-be-done.” What “job” will the customer hire your product to do?

  1. It may be a report or a visualization of data about their business.
  2. It may be a diagnosis: a list of problems you have identified in the configuration or operation of their business.
  3. It may be the transformation of one set of inputs into a more useful output or format.
  4. It can be as simple as selling a particular result: selling the “hole in the wall” instead of the drill.

Fundamentally you have to craft an offer that is explicit about what the customer is actually paying for–which is often distinct from what you may have to do to deliver it. This encapsulates your technology and/or expertise in a service project with the following key parameters:

  • Outputs – What does the client get? What problem do firms hire you to solve?
  • End Time – How long will it take?
  • Cost: How much will it cost?
  • Inputs – What do you need to get started?
  • Controls / Interim Observations – How will we jointly manage the project and our mutual expectations? Here you have to expose enough of your internal processes and controls to satisfy the customer you will deliver on your promise. These are also important to manage evolving expectations or changes in requirements after the project starts.
  • Start Time – When can you start?

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Photo Credit: licensed from Brian Jackson via 123RF (Image ID : 32147706)

Safed the Sage Stories

Barton published 326 of these stories in five volumes between 1917 and 1925:

  • The Parables of Safed the Sage (1917)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Safed the Sage (1919) In the foreword Barton explains the origin of the name Safed:
    “So far as we know, no man except the author of these Parables bears or has borne that name. He did not wish to choose a name either from the Bible or from the Arabian Nights, and so invented one. The name was not, however, invented wholly out of nothing. There is in Northern Galilee a village called Safed or Sefet, lying north and a little west from the Sea of Galilee, and plainly visible from the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, and believed to be the “city set on a hill, which cannot be hid.” The author visited this site some years ago, and the name came to him somewhat spontaneously as a convenient one for the character which he has assumed in these chapters
  • Safed and Keturah (1921)
  • More Parables of Safed the Sage (1923)
  • Fun and Philosophy of Safed the Sage (1925)

Garth Rosella and Stan Flewelling collected 80 of William Eleazar Barton’s stories in “Parables of a Country Parson” (a reprint of their earlier “Millionaire and the Scrub Lady“).

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