Note: This post appeared originally on the HTRLaunchPad blog.
We’re entering the fifth week of our twelve week program at the LaunchPad. As we experienced last year, many of our teams are opening up more questions than answers via their Customer Discovery process. Many are having a hard time getting people to talk to them and several are questioning their core hypotheses on multiple levels. It’s a little scary but experience tells us that this is a good thing- it means they are cracking open their business model and finding out where the real value may be hidden.
And a few may be discovering a key thing about doing a startup:
“If you can’t find 120-150 people to talk with about your startup, over three months, then you might ask yourself: Do I actually know anything about the problem I’m solving?”
This is the key to the uncertainty and questioning we saw at our last round of presentations. The word ‘pivot’ started appearing. A few changed focus, probably prematurely.
What’s really going on is they are just starting to talk to enough people. Typically at this stage they have talked to 15-25 in total, well below the expected 10-15 per week. This is where you discover how persistence, and making full use of every resource you have, are the keys to startup success. It’s also where teams discover that focus is critical. The more focused you are the easier it is attract interest and feedback.
While it seems that solving more problems should lead to more connections, it’s simply not the case. When you accurately define the problem -the main problem– that your startup is attacking, you become a lot more interesting. Why? Because you are starting to acquire expertise which you can share, adding value to your conversations.
But, ask yourselves: If after four weeks we’ve only had a handful of conversations, what are we doing wrong? Are we in the wrong market? Solving a problem that isn’t urgent and painful enough? Or maybe not really all that interested in what we thought we were doing? These are important questions to ask…and they can lead to breakthroughs. We saw it last year across the board.
So, hang in there and keep having conversations!