null product

A thought exercise: the null product is a fully realized product, but with no features.

Imagine the null product for a SaaS: Customer's have to be able to login (confirm their email address, reset their password), choose which plan to subscribe to, pay a monthly fee, update their expired credit card etc. All of those capabilities are required regardless of the actual product features that represent the value you are providing.

Contrast that with an eBook. The customer has to be able to pay for the book (once), download the book, put it on their eReader. And those capabilities are needed regardless of whether the book contains zero words or 1 million words, whether it involves years of research or no research.

The amount of effort to produce a null product will vary greatly depending on the platform it targets, and the experience of the founder. If you need to learn a whole new language, or work with an emerging platform, or pay consultants to configure parts of the platform, the cost of the null product is much higher. If you target a medical industry and require HIPAA compliance, then the null product is higher in that industry. If your target industry is space flight, your compliance requirements add to the cost of the null product. Many other industries have regulatory requirements that raise the complexity of the null product.

The effort to produce a null product is the minimum bound of the denominator of your product's potential ROI.

Another name: "MNVP" minimum non-viable product (contrast with MVP)

← NPV Opportunity Cost → ↑ Glossary

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