We’re in the ninth week of the 2014 HTRLaunchPad accelerator program and it’s been an interesting ride. Several teams have passed the 100 conversations milestone and you can tell- they are pretty far along with their business models. There is definitely a correlation between the number of conversations a startup has and their progress. We started with 13 startup founder teams, including one from an existing and successful company. We’ve had two dropouts, including that team. However for them, their discovery process helped them determine that a new product idea they had been considering for over a year was not viable. This was considered a win by their management as they learned this in a little over a month. Their hypothesis was wrong and there was little interest in the market for their idea. Without the Customer Discovery process they probably would have spent time and resources putting something out there that no one wanted. Failing fast was a desirable outcome.
The other team that dropped out had two issues that are related. There was only one founder and he was pursuing his MBA. Doing startup projects with a single founder greatly reduces your likelihood of success. Why? Because you need a lot of time to have all those conversations and you need more than one set of ears and eyes when you’re learning. Different people hear different things. And it effectively doubles or triples the value of your conversations when you have two or three founders participating. Having a major outside task like finishing an MBA is not necessarily a problem (we had two successful team founders last year who were doing exactly that) but going it alone while juggling two complex tasks simply doesn’t work. It’s very difficult to schedule and have those 10-12 conversations a week by yourself!