The past couple of weeks, I have been a vivid student of Customer Development, a methodology specifically useful for software startups. I have been familiar with the notion but not until emailing with a very helpful developer and entrepreneur that asked me to have a deeper look at it did I do so. And I am glad I did!
In other ventures, we have pretty much done the same activities as preached by Customer Development, but in a much more disorganized manner. We would make ad hoc decisions on what needs to be done at any given status quo and take action until coming to the next milestone and make more ad hoc decisions. Very non-scientific and time-consuming.
Customer Development as a concept has organized my view on startup activities significantly. Although it has been formulated for software startups, I can definitely see that we can apply its teachings to our construction and hotel product businesses, too.
My two favorite features: 1) Validating your product with the market before developing it, and 2) time-to-market will be much shorter.
We have pretty much done things the other way around. First, we’d launched a product and fine-tuned it along the way as we meet and get feedback from hundreds of customers. In the end, we’ve got a pretty solid offer but, oh, has it taken time, man! Yes, indeed, it has.
Right now, I am contacting a number of potential users of a travel search product as I’m trying to develop, and hope to have gathered an advisory board in the coming days. These helpful souls will (hopefully) praise the idea to the heavens or (hopefully not) damn it to hell. Either way, with the feedback, some twitching and turning ought to perfect the features, before the real developing starts.
More on Customer Development:
1) Ash Maurya’s blog
3) Steve Blank’s homepage (creator of Customer Development)
4) Search for “Customer Development” on Slideshare.net