Customer Development &
The Value of Ideas
• Customer Development
• Value of Ideas
• Economics of Ideas
• Value Propositions
• Closing Thoughts @DaveParkerSEA
• Serial Entrepreneur - Five Startups, 2 sold, 1 closed, 2 Active.
• Board Member - Mid Market Companies, six exits
• FormerVC - $250M Intl Fund
• VP Programs & People at UP Global
• Husband & Dad @DaveParkerSEA
Section Title 2 Section Title 1
No campaign plan survives ﬁrst contact with the enemy
Field Marshall Helmuth Graf von Moltke
No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers
• You want to spend the next ﬁve weeks answering real
• It takes as long to build a small idea as a big idea
• Investors have opinions on every idea - you need facts to
• You want to build something that matters
• Passion is important but not sufﬁcient
What is Customer Development?
• Talking to Prospects about your idea
• Maximizing learning
• Showing a demo
• Getting real <hard> feedback
Who isYour Customer?
• Business to Business
• Business to Consumer
• Not both
• What problem are you solving for them
• What’s different at Launch and at Scale?
• You need to survive to get to scale
• Interviews work - surveys don’t - panels, maybe
• Get out of the building - Interview real prospects (they aren’t
customers until they pay)
• Ask for referrals & Introductions
• Have a great value prop <below>
Sidebar - Build a List
• Build an email list of prospects
• Ask them to opt-in
• Setup a free Mailchimp account
• Send a two week update (every two weeks)
• What we built, what we’re going to build, where we need
Tracking Customer Dev
• Business Model Canvas is great… and to start, match:
• Value Prop
• Customer Segment
• Let customers deﬁne priorities of your build (not what’s
easiest to build)
• If you have a “Fatal Flaw” in your idea when do you want to
know - ﬁve weeks or ﬁve years?
What to Ask?
• Ask them about their biggest problems & how they solve
• Ask them about tools they use today
• Challenges they have in their work
• Magic wand question - what would you make go away
• Ask the questions to disprove your hypothesis
Test/Learn/Pivot on your MVP
• What is your biggest risk? Take it on ﬁrst!
• State you hypothesis
• Ask if it’s a problem
Mobile App for
Mobile App for
Cost of Ideas
• Ideas do matter and so does Execution
• Bad Ideas well executed will fail
• Great teams in bad markets will fail
• What’s the Cost of an Idea?
• How do you tell if your idea is a good idea?
Value of Ideas
• What will a customer pay you?
• Does it save or make them $$?
• Pain Pill orVitamin?
• What’s the value of entertainment?
• Bad Ideas & Bad Markets
Progressive Improvements & Copycats
• Most ideas are a progression
• Adding design to the ugliest thing you know
• There are very view innovations - and customers won’t be
looking for it!
• Copycats are ﬁne - if you know the market
Cost of an Idea
• What will it cost to build it?
• Build length, team,“man months”
• Cost to maintain it?
• Support/customer service
• What’s your roadmap
Cost of Customer Acquisition
• How will you acquire customers?
• Direct Sales, channel, web direct, white label, retail?
• What will it cost you to sustain trafﬁc
• Paid search - requires demand
• Organic search - slow
• Excludes PR and one-time efforts