Hans van Gent - @jcvangent
Doing

Customer Development
(and stop wasting your time)
Why bother talking to
people
(when you could be building)
image by xensin
So do you know
what the most
dangerous
word in startups is?
With this word
You are making decisions in a vacuum.
With this word
You can take action for years, and end up
nowhere.
The most
dangerous
word in startups
Assumptions
about potential customers,
about potential problems,
about potential solutions.
Assumptions
Assumptions
about potential customers
image by epsos
Personas
are fictional characters created to represent
the different user types within a targeted
demographic, attitude an...
Personas
A persona is a kind of an imaginary person with
a name, history, and story who has a way of
doing things.
Personas
A persona should have enough psychological
detail to allow you to conveniently step over to
the persona’s view an...
Personas
A persona can function almost like another
person in the room when making a decision—It is
“Magnus.” He looks at ...
about potential customers
Describe a stereotypical customer
as detailed as possible
Facts & demographics
• Name, Gender, A...
about potential customers
Places
• Where (online and offline) can you find him/her?
Forums? Comment sections of which blog...
Check out http://personapp.io/
Questions to ask
when developing personas
#1 What is their demographic information?
Questions to ask
when developing personas
#1 What is their demographic information?
#2 What kind of job do they have?
Questions to ask
when developing personas
#1 What is their demographic information?
#2 What kind of job do they have?
#3 W...
Questions to ask
when developing personas
#1 What is their demographic information?
#2 What kind of job do they have?
#3 W...
Questions to ask
when developing personas
#1 What is their demographic information?
#2 What kind of job do they have?
#3 W...
Assumptions
about potential problems / solutions
image by edouardv66
Paul Graham - @paulg
“Build something people want!”
By talking to people you can find
out about their problems.
But it’s super easy
to screw up these
conversations.
icon by Stefano Vetere
Henry Ford
’If I had asked people what they wanted, they
would have said faster horses.’
Anybody will say your idea is great
if you annoy them for long enough.
A man wakes up, turns on the
radio, goes upstairs, turns on the
lights, and kills himself.
Why?
image by Spirit_of_69
(Not...
image by wstryder
(Note: this slide, and several other, are accompanied by a mini-workshop which is really hard to replica...
#1 Use a script or survey
Three ways to horrible screw up
customer development
Always know your big 3
questions
Don’t stress to much about choosing the “right” important
questions. They will change. Ju...
Questions to dig into feature requests
# Why do you want that?
# What would that let you do?
# How are you coping without ...
Questions to dig into emotional signals
# Tell me more about that.
# That seems to really bug you - I bet there’s a story ...
Softball and anchor questions
How’s it going with..?
Interesting: tell me more about that..
Can we go back to what you wer...
#1 Use a script or survey
#2 Talk about your idea
Three ways to horrible screw up
customer development
Dear mom,


Don’t you think my idea is great?
Love,
your son.
Not just your mom lies.
People want to be helpful, so they tell you what
they think you want to hear.
The mom test
www.momtestbook.com
Rob Fitzpatrick- @robfitz
The mom test
• Never ask their opinion, especially about
your idea
• Ask about their life
• Ask about specifics in the pas...
Good or bad questions
Inspiration: the mom test
“Do you think it’s a good
idea?”
Me
“Do you think it’s a good
idea?”
“Would you buy a product
which solved this
problem?”
Me
“Would you buy a product
which solved this
problem?”
“How do you currently deal
with this problem?”
Me
“How do you currently deal
with this problem?”
“When does this problem
pop-up?”
Me
“When does this problem
pop-up?”
“What makes this time
consuming and go off
track?”
Me
“What makes this time
consuming and go off
track?”
“Has this ever been more
time consuming or gone of
track more than normal?”
“Please show me how..”
Me
“Please show me how..”
“Please tell me how…I’m
trying to learn from you..”
Me
“Please tell me how…I’m
trying to learn from you..”
“Talk me through the last
time you had this problem”
“What did you try to do
about it?”
Me
“What did you try to do
about it?”
“How much would you pay
for this?"
Me
“How much would you pay
for this?"
“How much money does
this problem cost you?”
So we just had a meeting
So we just had a meeting
But did we make progress?
“Sound great. I love it!”
Emma
“Sound great. I love it!”
“Brilliant — let me know
when it launches!”
Jeremy
“Brilliant — let me know
when it launches!”
Compliment
+ Stalling tactic
They don’t care
“There are a couple people
I can intro you to, when
you’re ready”
Jeremy
“There are a couple people
I can intro you to, when
you’re ready”
Partial commitment
(is there a valid reason he can’t connect you
now)
“I would definitely buy
that!”
Emma
Danger!!!
(a promising signal, but people can’t predict
their own behaviour)
#1 Use a script or survey
#2 Talk about your idea
#3 Sell
Three ways to horrible screw up
customer development
Be an apprentice, not a sales person.
Recording interviews
#1 Write in their words, not yours
#2 One phrase per card / sticky note
#3 Pair. One interviewer, one...
Slide by: http://www.foundercentric.com/
Check out http://www.custdevcards.com/
Running the process
(Note: these are another set of workshop slides as taught during Evolv Weekend, ping @jcvangent for mo...
Customer
Hypotheses
Problem / Pain
Hypotheses
Riskiest
Asumptions
Minimum
Success
Criteria
Experiments
Results
Solution
Hy...
Who is your customer? Be as specific as possible.
(time limit: 5 minutes)
Customer Hypothesis
What is the problem? Phrase it from your customers
perspective.
(time limit: 5 minutes)
Problem / Pain Hypothesis
Define a solution only after you have validated a problem
worth solving.
(time limit: 5 minutes)
Solution Hypothesis
List the assumptions which must hold true, for your hypothesis
to be true
(time limit: 10 minutes)
Riskiest assumptions
What are your 3 big questions? .
(time limit: 5 minutes per interview)
Experiments
Call the criteria the results need to meet for the assumption
to be validated.
Minimum Success Criteria
State the results of the experiment compared to the criteria,
and thus if it’s validated or invalidated, and if you’re goi...
And remember..
There are no facts inside
the building..
Let’s talk
http://www.jcvangent.com/
by Hans van Gent / @jcvangent
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)
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Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)

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Why would you bother to talking to people while you actually could be building your product? Because everything you assume could be wrong. Time to validate those assumptions and start your business on the right track.

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Doing customer development (and stop wasting your time)

  1. 1. Hans van Gent - @jcvangent Doing
 Customer Development (and stop wasting your time)
  2. 2. Why bother talking to people (when you could be building) image by xensin
  3. 3. ’Most startups fail due not to the failure of product development but due to the lack of customers’ Steve Blank - @sgblank
  4. 4. So do you know what the most dangerous word in startups is?
  5. 5. With this word You are making decisions in a vacuum.
  6. 6. With this word You can take action for years, and end up nowhere.
  7. 7. The most dangerous word in startups
  8. 8. Assumptions
  9. 9. about potential customers, about potential problems, about potential solutions. Assumptions
  10. 10. Assumptions about potential customers image by epsos
  11. 11. Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behaviour set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.
  12. 12. Personas A persona is a kind of an imaginary person with a name, history, and story who has a way of doing things.
  13. 13. Personas A persona should have enough psychological detail to allow you to conveniently step over to the persona’s view and see your products and services from her perspective.
  14. 14. Personas A persona can function almost like another person in the room when making a decision—It is “Magnus.” He looks at what you’re doing from his particular and very specific vantage point, and points out flaws and benefits for him.
  15. 15. about potential customers Describe a stereotypical customer as detailed as possible Facts & demographics • Name, Gender, Age, Education, Occupation… Behaviours • What books does he/she read? What's he/she already doing to solve the problem you want to solve for him/her? Problem & needs • What are her points of pain as HE/SHE thinks about them? What product or service, similar to yours, is he/she using but unsatisfied with? Then, what problem is he/she trying to solve with that? What challenges keeps him/her up at night trying to google the answer? Goals & dreams • What is he/she trying to accomplish? What is most important to him/her? icon by Paulo Sá Ferreira
  16. 16. about potential customers Places • Where (online and offline) can you find him/her? Forums? Comment sections of which blogs? Social networks? Meetups? LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Groups? Key influencers • Who does he/she trust as a thought leader? Who knows a lot of your customers and can introduce you to them? icon by Paulo Sá Ferreira Describe a stereotypical customer as detailed as possible
  17. 17. Check out http://personapp.io/
  18. 18. Questions to ask when developing personas #1 What is their demographic information?
  19. 19. Questions to ask when developing personas #1 What is their demographic information? #2 What kind of job do they have?
  20. 20. Questions to ask when developing personas #1 What is their demographic information? #2 What kind of job do they have? #3 What does a day in their life look like?
  21. 21. Questions to ask when developing personas #1 What is their demographic information? #2 What kind of job do they have? #3 What does a day in their life look like? #4 What do they value most? What are their goals?
  22. 22. Questions to ask when developing personas #1 What is their demographic information? #2 What kind of job do they have? #3 What does a day in their life look like? #4 What do they value most? What are their goals? #5 Where do they get their information?
  23. 23. Assumptions about potential problems / solutions image by edouardv66
  24. 24. Paul Graham - @paulg “Build something people want!”
  25. 25. By talking to people you can find out about their problems.
  26. 26. But it’s super easy to screw up these conversations. icon by Stefano Vetere
  27. 27. Henry Ford ’If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’
  28. 28. Anybody will say your idea is great if you annoy them for long enough.
  29. 29. A man wakes up, turns on the radio, goes upstairs, turns on the lights, and kills himself. Why? image by Spirit_of_69 (Note: this slide, and several other, are accompanied by a mini-workshop which is really hard to replicate without being in the room. If you want to bring me in-house and hear the punchline, ping @jcvangent)
  30. 30. image by wstryder (Note: this slide, and several other, are accompanied by a mini-workshop which is really hard to replicate without being in the room. If you want to bring me in-house and hear the punchline, ping @jcvangent)
  31. 31. #1 Use a script or survey Three ways to horrible screw up customer development
  32. 32. Always know your big 3 questions Don’t stress to much about choosing the “right” important questions. They will change. Just choose the 3 questions which seem murkiest or most important right now. Doing so will give you a firmer footing and a better sense of direction for your next 3. Knowing your list allows you to take better advantage of serendipitous encounters.
  33. 33. Questions to dig into feature requests # Why do you want that? # What would that let you do? # How are you coping without it? #Do you think we should push back the launch date, add that feature, or is it something we can add later? # How would that fit into your day?
  34. 34. Questions to dig into emotional signals # Tell me more about that. # That seems to really bug you - I bet there’s a story here. # What makes it so awful? # Why haven’t you been able to fix this already? # You seem pretty excited about that - it’s a big deal? # Why so happy? # Go on.
  35. 35. Softball and anchor questions How’s it going with..? Interesting: tell me more about that.. Can we go back to what you were saying about..?
  36. 36. #1 Use a script or survey #2 Talk about your idea Three ways to horrible screw up customer development
  37. 37. Dear mom, 
 Don’t you think my idea is great? Love, your son.
  38. 38. Not just your mom lies. People want to be helpful, so they tell you what they think you want to hear.
  39. 39. The mom test www.momtestbook.com Rob Fitzpatrick- @robfitz
  40. 40. The mom test • Never ask their opinion, especially about your idea • Ask about their life • Ask about specifics in the past 
 (“talk me through the last time you…”) • Talk less and listen more
  41. 41. Good or bad questions Inspiration: the mom test
  42. 42. “Do you think it’s a good idea?” Me
  43. 43. “Do you think it’s a good idea?”
  44. 44. “Would you buy a product which solved this problem?” Me
  45. 45. “Would you buy a product which solved this problem?”
  46. 46. “How do you currently deal with this problem?” Me
  47. 47. “How do you currently deal with this problem?”
  48. 48. “When does this problem pop-up?” Me
  49. 49. “When does this problem pop-up?”
  50. 50. “What makes this time consuming and go off track?” Me
  51. 51. “What makes this time consuming and go off track?”
  52. 52. “Has this ever been more time consuming or gone of track more than normal?”
  53. 53. “Please show me how..” Me
  54. 54. “Please show me how..”
  55. 55. “Please tell me how…I’m trying to learn from you..” Me
  56. 56. “Please tell me how…I’m trying to learn from you..”
  57. 57. “Talk me through the last time you had this problem”
  58. 58. “What did you try to do about it?” Me
  59. 59. “What did you try to do about it?”
  60. 60. “How much would you pay for this?" Me
  61. 61. “How much would you pay for this?"
  62. 62. “How much money does this problem cost you?”
  63. 63. So we just had a meeting
  64. 64. So we just had a meeting But did we make progress?
  65. 65. “Sound great. I love it!” Emma
  66. 66. “Sound great. I love it!”
  67. 67. “Brilliant — let me know when it launches!” Jeremy
  68. 68. “Brilliant — let me know when it launches!”
  69. 69. Compliment + Stalling tactic They don’t care
  70. 70. “There are a couple people I can intro you to, when you’re ready” Jeremy
  71. 71. “There are a couple people I can intro you to, when you’re ready”
  72. 72. Partial commitment (is there a valid reason he can’t connect you now)
  73. 73. “I would definitely buy that!” Emma
  74. 74. Danger!!! (a promising signal, but people can’t predict their own behaviour)
  75. 75. #1 Use a script or survey #2 Talk about your idea #3 Sell Three ways to horrible screw up customer development
  76. 76. Be an apprentice, not a sales person.
  77. 77. Recording interviews #1 Write in their words, not yours #2 One phrase per card / sticky note #3 Pair. One interviewer, one note keeper
  78. 78. Slide by: http://www.foundercentric.com/
  79. 79. Check out http://www.custdevcards.com/
  80. 80. Running the process (Note: these are another set of workshop slides as taught during Evolv Weekend, ping @jcvangent for more info)
  81. 81. Customer Hypotheses Problem / Pain Hypotheses Riskiest Asumptions Minimum Success Criteria Experiments Results Solution Hypotheses Get out of the building and test Define riskiest assumptions and experiments Progress Report Board team: Progress Report Board v1.2 Progress Report Board team: First validate that your customer has a problem Then, state what your assumption is of the ideal soluotion, and build your experiments to validate those assumptions Fill in your persona sheets and refer to those, you can give them names to match their personality Of all the assumptions you have, state the one, which if proved wrong, will invalidate the whole business Design an experiment which will (in)validate the riskiest assumption most efficiently Call the criteria the results need to meet for the assumption to be validated State the results of the experiment compared to the criteria, and thus if it’s validated or invalidated, and if you’re going to pivot, iterate or persevere Inform us on the problems your customer or persona is having and how severe those pains are according to you
  82. 82. Who is your customer? Be as specific as possible. (time limit: 5 minutes) Customer Hypothesis
  83. 83. What is the problem? Phrase it from your customers perspective. (time limit: 5 minutes) Problem / Pain Hypothesis
  84. 84. Define a solution only after you have validated a problem worth solving. (time limit: 5 minutes) Solution Hypothesis
  85. 85. List the assumptions which must hold true, for your hypothesis to be true (time limit: 10 minutes) Riskiest assumptions
  86. 86. What are your 3 big questions? . (time limit: 5 minutes per interview) Experiments
  87. 87. Call the criteria the results need to meet for the assumption to be validated. Minimum Success Criteria
  88. 88. State the results of the experiment compared to the criteria, and thus if it’s validated or invalidated, and if you’re going to pivot, iterate or persevere. Result
  89. 89. And remember..
  90. 90. There are no facts inside the building..
  91. 91. Let’s talk http://www.jcvangent.com/ by Hans van Gent / @jcvangent

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