The 5 Min Interview- What Did I Just Hear?

Learn more about CTC’s Lean Startup program, Ideadvance, and how we will pay you to do customer discovery!

If you haven’t read the first post in this series, The 5 Min Interview- the 30 min plan, go back and check it out.

We’ve talked about the value of a plan and the impact of getting more through the power of “Why?”  Now, you have pages of interviewee notes.  How do you make sense of it all?

Many are listening for signs that their technology does something new for customers.  But how well did you listen for the jobs to be done and processes to be improved? The focus on technology often means you’ve missed process innovation steps where technology adds value.  It’s the opportunity to listen for an innovative business model for rapid adoption of your technology.

Customer discovery identifies the first level business model that helps you makes sales and/or adds value to key investors and partners as rapidly as possible.  Below are some suggestions on what you might hear and how to connect to your business model canvas.

Technology Application: What are your customers telling you about their habits? 

Technology adoption is not a one-size fits all process.  There will always be some early adopters willing to try your technology.  Who did you identify as your early adopters? How might these early adopters help you reduce risk for the next customer segment? For more on this, consider Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.

Cost of Customer Acquisition: You might build it, but can you afford to get them onboard?

The Lean Startup process arises from the biggest startup challenge- no company can survive without customers.  While discovery can help you understand if there is a need, you should also hear if your team can get customers with speed. What have you learned about how to reach customers? What kind of data or proof of concept will get them onboard?  What specific channels do they buy through AND do you have the resources to access these channels?  Investors tell us this is the biggest weakness in founder pitches.

Milestones Matter! 

Treating discovery interviews as validation towards the final product overlooks opportunities to uncover incremental milestones that create value. Did you consider that a valuable product might not be the fully realized vision in your head?  It might not be the pharmaceutical or the fully functional software tool with all its bells and whistles. 

Instead, it might be a well-designed clinical trial that reduces risk for acquisition?  It might be a high-fidelity MVP that integrates into another’s platform. Consider that others have stumbled onto the same problem and likely are pursuing similar solutions, your business gains advantage by identifying milestones that add value.  Discovery helps you position your activities so you don’t waste time getting to the next critical, value-added milestone.

The interview process doesn’t have to be lengthy. In 5 minutes, you can get insight with a plan and by asking strategic questions.  But developing your interview skills takes practice. Consider CTC’s Ideadvance, SBIR Ready or SBIR Advance programming to help you refine your skills as you develop your ideas.

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