Thursday, October 6, 2011

Customer Validation - 33 Great Articles

I saw a great post from Tristan Kromer Pivoting on Investor Feedback a.k.a Beware of Mentors.  It was a top post on StartupRoar on Tuesday.  His basic point was:

If someone, including me, tells you something isn’t a great idea and there’s no market for it there are only two acceptable responses. Either:

"That’s interesting. I’m going to take that thought out into the field and validate it with my customers."


"You’re wrong. I’ve spoken to dozens of customers, I have a validated customer persona, built an MVP to test key behavioral hypotheses, and the data doesn’t back what you’re saying."

imageToday I had two conversations with early stage startups (see Free CTO Consulting).  In both cases, I was the mentor telling the person that the idea, as I understood it was "not great."  One was an enterprise software product.  The other was a consumer play with possible viral growth.  Neither felt like a slam dunk.  Would it take more work to sell the enterprise product than they could make on it?  Would the consumer one get traction and be viral?  In both cases, my gut said that as framed it needed work.

In both cases, the founder and I brainstormed on ways to shift the product in order to get closer to what I perceived as something that would be great.

Neither had done enough customer validation to be able to say the second line that Tristan suggested.  There certainly had not been enough validation of the concept as it stood.  I would guess that most people who are providing feedback on your idea have a pretty good filter for what you have done to validate the concept.  If you've not Done Your Homework, it will be obvious.

In both cases, the answer was that the founder would go to find other ideas, turn those into paper descriptions and validate it with customers.  Customer Validation 101.  And that's the first response that Tristan suggests.

Now some helpful articles on Customer Validation, Customer Development, Lean:

  1. Six Idea Validation Tests to Pass Before Startup
  2. Customer Validation Really Starts with In-Person Interviews
  3. A Day in the Life of Your Customer
  4. How to Know If Your Startup Idea is the Next Big Thing
  5. Some Startups Forget to Validate a Business Model
  6. The Challenging Pace of Lean Startup
  7. How To Prioritize Feature Development After Launching an MVP
  8. The MVP is a Process not a Product
  9. Digging Deeper into Lean Business Model Canvases
  10. Wasting Time Validating Assumptions?
  11. Startups Need to Make Leaps of Faith, But Not Blindly
  12. Lessons Learned: Validated learning about customers
  13. Entrepreneurship as a Science – The Business Model/Customer Development Stack
  14. You Can’t “Feature” Your Way to Success
  15. The Phantom Sales Forecast – Failing at Customer Validation
  16. Customer Development and Marketplaces
  17. No Business Plan Survives First Contact With A Customer – The 5.2 billion dollar mistake.
  18. Vision Synching in a Lean Startup
  19. The Fallacy of Customer Development
  20. Entrepreneurs, Lower Investors’ Risk by Validating your Start-up Company’s Business Proposition
  21. Lessons Learned: What is customer development?
  22. How I Test The Market Validity Of A Product
  23. Customer Development Gut Checks
  24. Build a Path to Customers from Day 1
  25. Top 3 Ways to Fail at Customer Development
  26. Creating Startup Success – Customer Development + Business Model Design
  27. Customer Development and Marketplaces
  28. Hubris, Passion and Customer Development
  29. Free Customer Development Help –
  30. The Fallacy of Customer Development
  31. Hubris Versus Humility: The $15 billion Difference
  32. Less is More, More or Less
  33. Yes, but who said they’d actually BUY the damn thing?

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