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Customer Development 101
for Startups
Why do most
startups fail?
“No market need” (42%)
How to tie our customers
into planning?
You cannot get to know
your customers while
sitting inside a
coworking space...
“In a startup
no facts exist
inside the
building, only
opinions.”
(Steve Blank)
“Getting out of
the building”
=
Customer
Discovery
(Customer Development)
“We're easily convinced
by the argument that all
we need to do is “build it
and they will come.”
And when they don't
come,...
“Customer development is not an excuse to
slow down or change the plan every day.
It's an attempt to minimize the risk of ...
Validating
hypotheses
about...
Problems
Customer
segments
Needs
Problem–
Solution
Fit
‘Minimum
Viable
Product’
Different questions to
look answers for...
A) Do [X type of customers] consider
[Y issue] a problem?
Did they actively try to resolve it?
How? How much time and effo...
B) When it comes to
[X topic], what do [Y type of customers]
consider the biggest problem?
Did they actively try to resolv...
C) Which type of customers consider
[Y issue] a problem, if any?
Finding the right customer archetype,
your target market.
It is important to seek customer validation and
feedback throughout the whole product lifecycle:
● Who should be my target...
Validated learning via
talking to customers
Observing your customers in
their natural environment can
be combined with an open-
ended interview or even with
an inform...
Customer discovery via ‘interviews’:
1. Set up hypotheses about problems, needs, customer segment(s).
2. Phrase questions ...
How to phrase your
questions the right way:
“If I had asked
people what they
wanted,
they would have
said faster
horses.”
(Henry Ford)
Ideal questions
● Past experiences
(What, When, When was the last time)
● Facts (How much, How often)
● Processes (How did...
Remember...
this is ‘qualitative’
feedback.
“The rule of thumb is that hearing a statement from just one participant is an...
Validated learning via
triggering actions:
Minimum Viable Product
Landing page
Concierge +
Wizard of Oz
Buttons that
measure
interest for a
feature +
“ghetto testing”
Crowdfunding
How many...
Is your solution...
Painkiller or Vitamin?
“A lot of times,
people don’t
know what
they want until
you show it to
them.”
(Steve Jobs)
1. Validate basic hypotheses
about problem & customer segment(s) via interviews
or similar.
2. Build & measure MVP with sp...
*Disclaimer:
You may still fail.
But it decreases the risk of
having (too many) illusions.
Let’s see some
real projects!
Yepsnap
Survey + Landing Page MVP
Concept Key hypothesis
Use Yepsnap
marketplace sell your
best Instagram photos
as stock photos.
There are
Instagrammers
(w...
Attracting potential
customers to survey
via ad on Instagram
● Right where target customers are
● Pre-screening early adop...
Validation Step I: Survey via Typeform
● Very theoretical question (even if the concept was also novel), which is actually...
● Another theoretical question, but it revealed to us some
psychological drivers to be tested in comms / marketing.
Valida...
II. MVP: Landing Page: Sign Up + CTA
● There were people that actually
started to use the hashtag.
● As for now, the hypot...
Sortpad
Remote Problem–Solution interviews
Concept
An app that makes it
super easy & fast to
organize mobile photos
with quick swipes.
Customer segment
to test
Paren...
Interviews via MTurk (17 US parents)
Example: Problem–solution fit: finding painkiller
use cases
Example: Identifying target archetypes (behavior)
Example: Identifying target archetypes (behavior)
[+We also did some informal user tests on the spot
to iterate usability and improve onboarding.]
Ntice
Problem-oriented interviews
Concept
An app that helps you
find people you are
mutually attracted
based on events.
Customer segments
to test
College gi...
Interviews with college girls
● Have you ever hooked up with / started dating a guy at/after a
party?
● Remarkable positive / negative experiences in th...
Zinbox
Mapping archetypes and Pain & Gain
Concept
An email ‘skin’ that
makes overviewing &
managing your emails
more ‘natural’ and
efficient.
Customer segments
to t...
Profiling
customer
archetypes &
their
problems
Mapping use cases + archetypes
Mapping potential strategic directions for product
development
Now it’s your turn:
Think about your main (assumed) customer segment.
Make 3 assumptions about them, their habits, needs &...
To read
Books:
● Rob Fitzpatrick: The Mom Test (Book)
● Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Cus...
Visit Blog
Contact me on
Linkedin
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers
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How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers

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A useful guide for entrepreneurs and product teams, from an international customer research professional (working with 25+ tech companies).
- How to avoid building a product that nobody wants and validate your ideas before wasting your time.
- How to find relevant customer problems and relevant ideas for solutions.
- How to collect feedback from your target markets to make better and faster decisions about product, marketing, customer experience etc.
- Get out of the building: where and how to do 'research' with customers and users on a shoestring and where to find these people
- What to ask: how to set up your hypotheses and the right questions
- How to test your idea through an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- Real-life examples based on my experiences with 25+ tech companies and startups, including interview and MVP projects
- Advice from the lean startup movement's most important thought leaders
- Bonus: recommended books and blogs to read

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How to build better startup products by getting feedback from customers

  1. 1. Customer Development 101 for Startups
  2. 2. Why do most startups fail?
  3. 3. “No market need” (42%)
  4. 4. How to tie our customers into planning?
  5. 5. You cannot get to know your customers while sitting inside a coworking space...
  6. 6. “In a startup no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.” (Steve Blank)
  7. 7. “Getting out of the building”
  8. 8. = Customer Discovery (Customer Development)
  9. 9. “We're easily convinced by the argument that all we need to do is “build it and they will come.” And when they don't come, well, we just try, try, again.” (Eric Ries)
  10. 10. “Customer development is not an excuse to slow down or change the plan every day. It's an attempt to minimize the risk of total failure by checking your theories against reality.”
  11. 11. Validating hypotheses about...
  12. 12. Problems Customer segments Needs Problem– Solution Fit ‘Minimum Viable Product’
  13. 13. Different questions to look answers for...
  14. 14. A) Do [X type of customers] consider [Y issue] a problem? Did they actively try to resolve it? How? How much time and effort did they spend on it?
  15. 15. B) When it comes to [X topic], what do [Y type of customers] consider the biggest problem? Did they actively try to resolve these problems? How? How much time and effort did they spend on it?
  16. 16. C) Which type of customers consider [Y issue] a problem, if any? Finding the right customer archetype, your target market.
  17. 17. It is important to seek customer validation and feedback throughout the whole product lifecycle: ● Who should be my target customers? ● What are my target customer’s real problems? ● Is there a need for my concept? ● Should I change anything about it? Should I pivot? ● How does it fit into the customer journey? ● How and where people will use my product? ● Continue throughout the whole product design process (see user experience research)... ● ...and beyond, seeking feedback about the usability, new features and offerings alike.
  18. 18. Validated learning via talking to customers
  19. 19. Observing your customers in their natural environment can be combined with an open- ended interview or even with an informal product concept / usability test.
  20. 20. Customer discovery via ‘interviews’: 1. Set up hypotheses about problems, needs, customer segment(s). 2. Phrase questions the right way. 3. ‘Go’ where your customers are / take chances. 4. Chat them up confidently (but avoiding bias) 5. Take notes / get note-taker if possible 6. Continue until you see repetitive patterns 7. Collect learnings objectively. Compare to hypotheses. Set up new ones.
  21. 21. How to phrase your questions the right way:
  22. 22. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (Henry Ford)
  23. 23. Ideal questions ● Past experiences (What, When, When was the last time) ● Facts (How much, How often) ● Processes (How did you) ● Digging deeper (Why did/didn’t you)
  24. 24. Remember... this is ‘qualitative’ feedback. “The rule of thumb is that hearing a statement from just one participant is an anecdote; from two, a coincidence; and hearing it from three makes it a trend.” = Focus on recurring patterns and answers (only), but even then, take it as inspiration, not as something certainly set in stone. Be aware of the cultural context of the respondents.
  25. 25. Validated learning via triggering actions: Minimum Viable Product
  26. 26. Landing page Concierge + Wizard of Oz Buttons that measure interest for a feature + “ghetto testing” Crowdfunding How many people sign up Beta test communities
  27. 27. Is your solution... Painkiller or Vitamin?
  28. 28. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (Steve Jobs)
  29. 29. 1. Validate basic hypotheses about problem & customer segment(s) via interviews or similar. 2. Build & measure MVP with specific customer archetype in mind. 3. Learn. 4. Iterate. Combining ‘interviews’ with MVP
  30. 30. *Disclaimer: You may still fail. But it decreases the risk of having (too many) illusions.
  31. 31. Let’s see some real projects!
  32. 32. Yepsnap Survey + Landing Page MVP
  33. 33. Concept Key hypothesis Use Yepsnap marketplace sell your best Instagram photos as stock photos. There are Instagrammers (with good quality photos) who would let their photos be sold.
  34. 34. Attracting potential customers to survey via ad on Instagram ● Right where target customers are ● Pre-screening early adopter user material ● Already triggering action with CTA ● 1150 respondents collected for survey.
  35. 35. Validation Step I: Survey via Typeform ● Very theoretical question (even if the concept was also novel), which is actually not advised. ● The ‘twist’ / realiy check method: the survey led to the landing page. Approx. 35% of the respondents ultimately signed up.
  36. 36. ● Another theoretical question, but it revealed to us some psychological drivers to be tested in comms / marketing. Validation Step I: Survey via Typeform
  37. 37. II. MVP: Landing Page: Sign Up + CTA ● There were people that actually started to use the hashtag. ● As for now, the hypothesis seems to ‘feel’ correct.
  38. 38. Sortpad Remote Problem–Solution interviews
  39. 39. Concept An app that makes it super easy & fast to organize mobile photos with quick swipes. Customer segment to test Parents with small kids. Some hypotheses Have tons of photos of the kids, many shots of the same situation. Keeps memories well arranged and documented but don’t have much time to deal with it.
  40. 40. Interviews via MTurk (17 US parents)
  41. 41. Example: Problem–solution fit: finding painkiller use cases
  42. 42. Example: Identifying target archetypes (behavior)
  43. 43. Example: Identifying target archetypes (behavior)
  44. 44. [+We also did some informal user tests on the spot to iterate usability and improve onboarding.]
  45. 45. Ntice Problem-oriented interviews
  46. 46. Concept An app that helps you find people you are mutually attracted based on events. Customer segments to test College girls. Key hypotheses Taking the first step is rejected. Fear of disappointment / public humiliation too high. (+ what are the main pain points?)
  47. 47. Interviews with college girls
  48. 48. ● Have you ever hooked up with / started dating a guy at/after a party? ● Remarkable positive / negative experiences in this regard? ● Did it happen before that it was you who approached the guy? ● What’s been the most annoying thing about getting to know guys? ● Has it happened before that you browsed male participants of a party/event to find cute ones? ● Have you ever tried to collect feedback from a guy/guys regarding how attractive you are? Example topics
  49. 49. Zinbox Mapping archetypes and Pain & Gain
  50. 50. Concept An email ‘skin’ that makes overviewing & managing your emails more ‘natural’ and efficient. Customer segments to test ‘Business’-minded professionals, ordinary users, ‘geeks’ Challenge Concept had unclear focus. Who to target and what’s their single biggest problem with email?
  51. 51. Profiling customer archetypes & their problems
  52. 52. Mapping use cases + archetypes
  53. 53. Mapping potential strategic directions for product development
  54. 54. Now it’s your turn: Think about your main (assumed) customer segment. Make 3 assumptions about them, their habits, needs & problems (related to your concept). ‘Translate’ these into questions. *What and how would you ask to validate whether you are on the right track?* *Where and how would you find relevant people to ‘talk’ to?*
  55. 55. To read Books: ● Rob Fitzpatrick: The Mom Test (Book) ● Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development (Book) ● Ash Maurya: Running Lean (Book) ● For metrics that matter: Alistair Croll & Benjamin Yoskovitz: Lean Analytics (Book) Online: ● Blog of thought-leader Eric Ries: http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/ ● Customer Development Labs blog, with case studies: http://customerdevlabs.com/ ● For customer research and validation: http://smalltalx.com/ ● For User Experience research: http://uxstudio.hu/ux-blog/
  56. 56. Visit Blog Contact me on Linkedin

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