Tag Archives: Startup 101

Ah, but that first “yes” is glorious

Yesterday, I mentioned how hard Lean Startup can be in practice. It’s one thing to have the abstract knowledge of what to do – it’s quite another to do it. It sounds so simple to find ten people who will buy your product before building it. But that doesn’t say anything about the emotions you’ll experience when you talk to people who won’t buy you’re product. “It’s a great idea, but it’s not for me” is longhand for “no.”

Undeterred, I continued to make my pitch to potential customers. At lunch with some friends today, I got one of them to a maybe – he would have purchased it 3 months ago, but his situation doesn’t warrant it today. If his situation warrants it again next month, he would strongly consider it.

And then I found the right customer – one who said “YES! I want that!”

Oh … my … GOD!

If all those initial no’s had the familiar sting of rejection, that first yes was simply AWESOME. I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight because I’ll be digesting some of the specifics I learned from these conversations – and because now I have a specific customer to think about – what would it take to please Tom?

I still have only one person who said they would pay – I need TEN. I’m going to learn different things from all of them, but hopefully I will see patterns emerge that inform the next step in this journey.

One really important detail I learned today is the TYPE of customer who is perfect: account execs. My perfect customer (at least based upon the first one that I’ve found) has the title of Account Exec. That gives me a useful new focus for Customer Development. Before I was just talking to anyone in business. Now I know a specific type of businessperson to focus on – that should make finding nine more customers easier (we’ll see).

Sorry to be so abstract about my idea. It’s not because I’m secretive – I just don’t want encouragement (on the specific idea) from my non-customer friends at the moment. I need the discipline of finding ten real customers before I move on to the next stage. For me, that stage will be creating a 30-second marketing video, as VC Dave described. I COULD do that now, but again, I think I would get too much encouragement from friends who wouldn’t actually be willing to pay – I want some buzz, sure, but one negative of this particular product idea is that it’s expensive compared to alternatives (due to a higher cost structure). Once I get ten people willing to pull out their wallets for my product, then I’ll let you know what it is and get all that wonderful encouragement (and criticism).

Before you can get to ten, you have to get to one. That first one is glorious … Tom, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Smile with tongue out

The second installment of my Startup 101 column in Visual Studio Magazine came out today, and it’s on this very subject – talking to customers. Let me know what you think.

Have a question about your startup or want to practice your pitch? Register for the next Smart Bear Live with Jason Cohen!

Startup 101

I’ve started a new writing project – a Startup 101 column for Visual Studio Magazine. My goal is to introduce programmers to basic startup concepts and highlight other useful resources for entrepreneurs.

The inaugural installment went live yesterday, summarizing Lean Startup for developers. Initial reviews have been positive, so it looks as though I’ll keep at it. Please read it, tweet it, tell your friends, and send me some feedback!