One of the key concepts in the Lean LaunchPad methodology is Customer Discovery, otherwise known by its call to action – “Get Out of the Building!” Expect to hear that phrase constantly during the first weeks of class.
It’s essential to the process that team PIs and entrepreneurial leads meet face to face with as many potential customers, users, and influencers of their technology as possible. There is no substitute for the comprehensive feedback you get by reading the eyes and body language of your customer. It can be ego-deflating as well, particularly when the customer’s value of your technology and how they’d use it is totally different than you thought – for the twentieth time!
So what to do? You keep going. Getting out of the building.
You’ll tweak your interview targets based on the comments you get. Over time, as you use this feedback to drive the evolution of your Business Model Canvas, you’ll get better at refocusing and finding next-stage customers. Remember the discussion about the multiple pivots your idea would go through during the I-Corps term? This refocusing on new customers and new needs is that pivot process in action. Your value proposition, customer, distribution channel, and other elements of your startup will move and morph based on the demands of your market. You usually end up in a very different place than you started.
To maximize the effectiveness of the Customer Discovery process, it’s important to be highly prepared from the first interview. Don’t accept that you’ll get better with experience. While true, don’t ad lib your way through the first sessions. When you create your first list of customer prospects, they’re likely to be the people you think are the best fit for your technology. Your best prospects. Why wouldn’t you prepare to do a good job the first time? Role-play with other people, including from other teams. Read and heed advice from the required text Talking to Humans (Constable, 2014). Find and watch videos online on Customer Discovery and interviewing skills. Be the best interviewer you can be from the first day. In doing so, you’ll position yourself to maximize your information gathering process. Within the Lean LaunchPad framework, the greater the volume and quality of your information, the quicker you may find a viable business model for your startup.