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What is customer development?

What is customer development?
When we build products, we use a methodology. For software, we have many - you can enjoy a nice long list on Wikipedia. But too often when it's time to think about customers, marketing, positioning, or PR, we delegate it to "marketroids" or "suits." Many of us are not accustomed to thinking about markets or customers in a disciplined way. We know some products succeed and others fail, but the reasons are complex and the unpredictable. We're easily convinced by the argument that all we need to do is "build it and they will come." What's wrong with this picture? Steve Blank has devoted many years now to trying to answer that question, with a theory he calls Customer Development. You can learn about customer development, and quite a bit more, in Steve's book The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Some notable bloggers have made efforts to overcome these obstacles. Still, I feel the need to add my two cents. Get out of the building. My final suggestion is that you buy the book and skim it.

The Beginner's Guide to Startup Analytics Becoming an entrepreneur is like stepping onto the most intimidating roller-coaster in the world. There are ups, there are downs and there are unexpected turns. Sometimes you feel a little sick afterwards and sometimes you’re just inexplicably happy. No matter how many times you ride the coaster (or how many people have rode it before you), each go-around feels a little different. The unpredictability and the risk are what drive many entrepreneurs to the startup life. So, why do so many entrepreneurs find startup analytics intimidating? It’s time to demystify this world of analytics! Why Metrics Matter Would you buy a house in a country you’ve never been to without looking at some pictures first? First and foremost, metrics help startups set goals. Metrics also help entrepreneurs make smart, informed decisions about their startups. Of course, there are a number of other reasons why metrics matter. Without metrics, we don’t know how far we have or have not progressed. What Metrics Matter

The Legal Issues You Need To Know If You're Launching A Startup In 2017 Thinking of finally launching that startup in this year? You'd be in for a ride even if the next 12 months weren't shaping up to be as change-filled as it appears they might. Crowdfunding laws are evolving, and the regulatory landscape is already shifting as the Trump Administration gets underway. Fast Company asked startup expert and lawyer Christina Oshan, cofounder and managing member of the J+O Firm in Brooklyn, for tips on forming a company, financing, and other things you may not have thought of—but will definitely need to if you're getting a business off the ground in 2017. What do startups need to do to set themselves up for success? One of the most important things is actually forming the company, which is something startup founders sometimes forget to do. Similarly, founders should remember to issue stock to themselves. Another important thing to consider is who you're starting the company with. Are there any other errors you see startups making? What about crowdfunding?

A value creation checklist This project you’re working on, the new business or offering, what sort of value does it create? Who is it for? What mindset and worldview and situation?Is it paid for by organizations or individuals? Do the people you seek to serve know that they have the problem you can solve for them? Are you leveraging an asset that others don’t have? If you’re solving an existing problem, are you hoping that people will switch to your solution, or is the goal to get users who are new to the market or unaware of existing solutions? How will people find out about the solution you are offering? Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur? If you’re selling to organizations, what will your customer tell the boss? Is there a network effect? Is there any substantial reason why your customers won’t simply switch to a cheaper alternative? What are the externalities and side effects like? How long can you sustain this? What's the value you create over a lifetime relationship with a customer?

52 Weeks of UX One of the core principles of UX is to solve existing problems, or problems that people are already struggling with. While this might not be as glamorous as inventing a brand new thing it is more practical: it makes identifying problems easier and people are much more receptive to your design. If you’re solving a known problem you don’t have to convince anybody that your design is valuable…they already know exactly why they want to use it. Unfortunately, there are far more problems than there are designers to solve them. Here is a simple framework that does just that: 1. If you ask people what their problems are, you’re likely to get a laundry list of issues as an answer. They complain about it. If people aren’t frustrated, it means the issue at hand is not a real problem yet or they don’t recognize it’s a problem. Sometimes people are frustrated and don’t know exactly why. 2. Look for behavior that shows people are taking action. 3. Prioritizing the Most Important Problems

The 4 Stages of 0->1 Products – The Year of the Looking Glass This was first published on my mailing list The Looking Glass. Every week, I answer a reader’s question. Q: In all my past roles, I’ve worked on products that were already mature, where my job was to support further growth by making iterative changes. Successful 0->1 products — ones that create valuable new intents for people at scale — don’t arrive into the world fully-formed. By giving names to the different stages of product development, knowing what stage each project is in, and understanding what matters the most in that stage, you can improve your chances of building products that have meaningful impact in the world. Stage 1: Define your People Outcomes A people outcome is a point of view about what should be different about a target audience’s behavior, understanding or sentiment if your proposed product is wildly successful. To define the right people outcomes… Identify the People Problem you’re trying to solve. Stage 2: get Product-Market Fit Stage 3: Reconciliation Stage 4: Growth

The Pitch Is Dead. Long Live the Conversation. Some months ago, I was at a conference about social innovation or something, and a young woman came up and asked if we could talk. I said “Of course!” and with that, she launched into a staccato pitch about some really useful thing she was doing in some place that really needed it. My nametag said “foundation,” and so of course she was doing what she is supposed to do, but I have the attention span of a four year old, and the one-way flow of information sent my thoughts skittering into the weeds. They went something like this: I admire your courage, your willingness to just rock up and do this. I know, I know—it’s awful. It’s because a pitch is a really weird way to communicate. That little episode at the conference made me curious, and so I asked a number of funders whom I respect whether they’d ever funded someone who’d initially accosted them in that fashion. Anxiety-provoking and ineffective. First, there are three common questions you need to be ready to hit out of the park: 1. 2.

Performing a Project Premortem Executive Summary Reprint: F0709A In a premortem, team members assume that the project they are planning has just failed—as so many do—and then generate plausible reasons for its demise. Those with reservations may speak freely at the outset, so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied. Projects fail at a spectacular rate. Research conducted in 1989 by Deborah J. A premortem is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem. A typical premortem begins after the team has been briefed on the plan. Next the leader asks each team member, starting with the project manager, to read one reason from his or her list; everyone states a different reason until all have been recorded. In a session regarding a project to make state-of-the-art computer algorithms available to military air-campaign planners, a team member who had been silent during the previous lengthy kickoff meeting volunteered that one of the algorithms wouldn’t easily fit on certain laptop computers being used in the field.

Product strategy means saying no If you’re building a product, you have to be great at saying no. Not “maybe” or “later”. The only word is no. Building a great product isn’t about creating tons of tactically useful features which are tangentially related. It’s about delivering a cohesive product with well defined parameters. As Apple’s latest advert points out, there are literally tens of thousands of permutations of your product based on every addition, both minor and major. So many reasons to say yes When your product gets traction, you’ll find yourself inundated with good ideas for features. But The Data Looks Good “We’ve tried this feature with a small group and engagement is off the charts.” But It’ll Only Take A Few Minutes The main problem with this argument is that the scope of work should never be a reason to include a feature in a product. Lots of bad ideas can be built quickly. But this customer is about to quit This is feature blackmail. But we can just make it optional This leads to death by preferences.

How to write a killer deck, and get funded Immad Akhund is the CEO and co-founder of Heyzap, the leading Social Games distribution platform beyond Facebook. Heyzap has raised $3.5 million to date and is Immad’s third Startup, He will be writing a series of articles for Lessons Learned. I have advised a number of Web companies on their way to raise money. I am often mentally ‘face-palming’ as they stagger through their initial pitch. The key preparation material that most people create for pitching potential investors is a presentation deck. The two most important aspects of pitching are: 1) being confident and 2) conveying a consistent powerful story. Confidence You must firmly know that you are doing a great thing for the potential investors. Story It is vitally important to weave a story through your deck. Structure Presentation decks should generally be no more then 6-to-10 slides, with three to five bullet points per page with lots of images and a few graphs. Iteration Creating the deck should take one or two days.

Understanding Value — Black Swan Farming Value, value, value. Everyone talks about it, and there is no shortage of opinions about what it is – but it’s hard to nail down and reach broad agreement on what people actually mean when they say it. Many seem afraid of attempting to measure or estimate the value of the opportunities that an organisation might pursue via various strategies and initiatives and projects. While of course many will focus on “delighting the customer”, or perhaps operational efficiency, at some point (eventually), the actions we invest our scarce resources in should help the organisation to sustain itself and possibly even grow. Given the scarcity, there’s just no getting round the fundamental problem that all organisations face. To make this easier, I’ve been developing and testing a simple framework for assessing the economic impact of the investment decisions we are making. Increase Revenue This is the revenue associated with either increasing sales to existing customers or gaining new customers.

The ‘Facebook Class’ Built Apps, and Fortunes Photo STANFORD, Calif. ALL right, class, here’s your homework assignment: Devise an app. Get people to use it. That was the task for some Stanford students in the fall of 2007, in what became known here as the “ Class.” No one expected what happened next. The students ended up getting millions of users for free apps that they designed to run on Facebook. Almost overnight, the Facebook Class fired up the careers and fortunes of more than two dozen students and teachers here. “Everything was happening so fast,” recalls Joachim De Lombaert, now 23. “I almost didn’t realize what it all meant,” he says. Neither did many of his classmates. But by teaching students to build no-frills apps, distribute them quickly and worry about perfecting them later, the Facebook Class stumbled upon what has become standard operating procedure for a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. Start-ups once required a lot of money, time and people. The Facebook Class changed Mr.

Startup = Growth September 2012 A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. If you want to start one it's important to understand that. Redwoods Let's start with a distinction that should be obvious but is often overlooked: not every newly founded company is a startup. When I say startups are designed to grow fast, I mean it in two senses. That difference is why there's a distinct word, "startup," for companies designed to grow fast. To grow rapidly, you need to make something you can sell to a big market. For a company to grow really big, it must (a) make something lots of people want, and (b) reach and serve all those people. Writing software is a great way to solve (b), but you can still end up constrained in (a). Most businesses are tightly constrained in (a) or (b). Ideas It might seem that it would always be better to start a startup than an ordinary business. The constraints that limit ordinary companies also protect them. Rate Value

Ten Rules for Web Startups #1: Be NarrowFocus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful. Most companies start out trying to do too many things, which makes life difficult and turns you into a me-too. Focusing on a small niche has so many advantages: With much less work, you can be the best at what you do. #2: Be DifferentIdeas are in the air. #3: Be CasualWe're moving into what I call the era of the "Casual Web" (and casual content creation). #4: Be PickyAnother perennial business rule, and it applies to everything you do: features, employees, investors, partners, press opportunities. #5: Be User-CentricUser experience is everything. #6: Be Self-CenteredGreat products almost always come from someone scratching their own itch. #7: Be GreedyIt's always good to have options. #9: Be AgileYou know that old saw about a plane flying from California to Hawaii being off course 99% of the time—but constantly correcting? #11 (bonus!)

The cult of the NDA To all those entrepreneurs with innovative, unique business ideas who want to capitalize on them before someone else does, I have one piece of advice: Get over it. Riding the tech boom of the late 1990's, there were an immense number of tech companies founded with thousands of innovative, smart new ideas. As a research analyst at an investment bank during that time, I personally visited with hundreds of these young companies, and even invested personally in a handful, either directly or through my firm's venture fund. Every one of these companies believed they had a unique idea, either a piece of technology, a business model, or a way of building a product. Non-disclosure agreements (NDA's) were the order of the day. At one point, there was even a venture capital conference called NDA , sponsored by the now-defunct (but apparently rising from the grave) Red Herring magazine. Unfortunately, none of these ideas were unique. Do the math. Why the cult of the NDA? You get the idea.