The Visioning Room

Customer Development – Why you’re not quite ready yet!

I’ve recently found myself taking a lot more meetings with entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, most of which I’ve been offering too much of my time. This is not without valid reasoning, but I do need to improve my selection criteria.

I love listening to people’s vision for a new product idea, and occasionally some of those folks prove to be equipped with the proper research and knowledge required to iteratively grow their business.

Unfortunately, however, most come to us with little more than speculative ideas. Few – if any – have actually tested their assumptions against their target audience. Rather, the immediate goal for these entrepreneurs seems to be to answer the question of cost for the sum of their “Big Idea”.

This morning, while sipping my requisite coffee, I stumbled on an intriguing post by serial entrepreneur Steven Blank. Upon its completion, I determined that the article should be on every fledgling entrepreneur and idea-man’s morning coffee reading list. Being that its broader message is so inline with my recent experiences, I felt the need to share it on my blog.

Steve Blank professes many of my thoughts of undeveloped, premature ideas being placed under the facade of a pitch ready to be presented to investors. Without concisely composing their thoughts, an aspiring entrepreneur’s pitch of 35 slides of rambling will not make the cut.

Blank insists that the more potential customers you interact with, the less your pitch comes across as a spew of hypothetical visions and more as tested findings conducted outside of your building. This all culminates in what Blank refers to as the “Lessons Learned” VC pitch which takes the VC along the journey of what you learned in the process of developing your customer.

The article is a compelling read, and certainly a worthwhile lesson from one of the godfathers of the lean startup movement.

2 Responses to “Customer Development – Why you’re not quite ready yet!”

  1. Jim Holland on February 2nd, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Jess – I enjoyed your post and reference to one key component of Steve Blanks “4 Steps to the Epiphany.” I often see organizations who fail to “actually test their assumptions against their target audience.”

    The result is either a quick failure or slow miserable death.

    Keep up the good post!


    • Jess Pugsley on February 11th, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      Thanks Jim. I’ve been following your tweets since you shared this post and look forward to discussing product management/marketing in the future.

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