Customer Discovery and Problem Hunting

It’s vital to understand the commercial impact of your technology – before you build. But, let’s say you flipped the script, and created a brilliant solution to a TBD problem. Here’s what I’ve learned about problem hunting and customer discovery:

1. Understanding the customer is vital. This is done through interviews to map product-market, market-model, product-channel, and model-channel fit.

2. Structure is key. Stick to 5 interviews per week.

3. In-person first, video call second, phone call third.

4. Warm introductions and in-person events help tremendously. Very few (altruistic and kind) people will respond to a cold call.

5. Start with your current network. End all interviews with a request for further introductions.

6. Leave questions open ended. Listen way more than you speak. Take avid notes.

7. Ask “what didn’t I ask?” The responses to this question are often the most insightful.

8. Large sample sizes are key, but be targeted before the interview. Select a specific hypothesis and read the interviewee’s LinkedIn.

9. Join and interact with social media groups. Build rapport and ask.

10. Be grateful! Stick to your proposed time limit and thank the interviewee for their time.

11. Do not sell or talk about your product. You’re in information gathering mode only.

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