A few years ago, I was working on my own startup. I had done the customer development and got great feedback. Brimming with confidence I emailed all the people who had expressed an interest about the beta launch.
No one signed up...
I realised that I had fallen into a double trap.
I had listening to what customers wanted without testing if the pain was there. They said they loved the idea, but not enough to sign up, let alone pay. I had also asked crappy questions and allowed myself to falsely validate the idea.
Ask better questions to validate solving pain
The number one thing that could have saved me three years would have been to ask better questions.
Because of the experiences I had with my startup, at the first Leanconf we gave away copies of Rob Fitzpatrick's excellent book - The Mom Test. A MUST READ book on customer development.
There are a ton of links on the subject. I’ve hand-picked a few of the best links from stellar customer development gurus.
- Cindy outlines what you should be learning from customer interviews. Ironically the example is very similar to my failed startup idea!!!
- Here is an uber list of customer development questions.
- Justin Wilcox always has great Customer Development advice, read how he interviews customers.
Extra bonus - Ryan Hoover from Product Hunt points out the more effort demonstrated by the user, the stronger the pain is that needs solving.