We completed the two sessions of our new Customer Discovery Workshop on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.  In all, 28 people had signed up to learn the best way to launch a startup. It’s all about identifying and understanding your potential customers and then creating products that solve problems they know they have.  It sounds so simple. Why then do the vast majority of startups proceed to build and launch products before they ever talk to customers? And then belatedly discover no one cares for what they are offering? Why is so much time spent on writing a business plan before gathering any facts directly from potential users?  This is a very expensive and time-wasting way to build a company. Usually, it leads to failure, discouragement, and angry investors. But talking to customers can be awkward and scary.

Attendees at the workshop learned of a better way to find out how to design and offer products and services based on an initial “guess” of what customers want.  The key is to get a good fit between a product and a market need. It takes over 100 interviews to figure this out, but the good news is that it is cheap to do. All it takes is perseverance and some skills in asking the right questions.  

We got lots of positive reactions to the workshops, so we will likely put on a third session in the spring.  But also, we want to move on to other topics like creating a minimum viable product, figuring out through what channels to sell a product, and how to enlist partners and allies.  Ultimately, we will offer a five-day Bootcamp for startups in June that will look at the whole startup-building process in intensive sessions. Be on the lookout for announcements of all these upcoming events.