How to know whether your idea is a good one
20th June 2016
How can entrepreneurs build a successful product? A useful starting point is to draw on Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model that focuses on three key areas:
  • Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel
  • Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions
  • Customer validation: Does my customer’s problem actually exist?

Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel

It’s a cruel paradox. One of the qualities you need to be a successful entrepreneur is the very thing that can trip you up early on: conviction. You must be ready to truly challenge your conclusions. Searching should lead us to ask:
  • Who are my customers?
  • Do they really need my product?
  • How am I going to reach them?
  • Does my product solve their problem?
  • Finally, will they buy it?
When it’s done properly the product development process will likely lead you to a totally different end product. Avoid the very common mistake of just going ahead and building it.

Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions

Blank suggests you write a one- or two-page hypothesis for each part of the Business Model Canvas. In truth, it will save you time and hard-earned cash. Example: Finding assumptions for the Foyles app We recently helped Foyles extend the book shopping experience onto their customers’ smart phone. Their value proposition was “search this store on your mobile”. This proposition had to be tested before Foyles spent time and money building an app. And this meant working out their riskiest assumptions. But how? By putting their value proposition down on paper, we were able to see the need for the product, as well as the solution and the expected results. This is how Foyles was enabled to easily spot their riskiest assumptions. Foyles example - White October For one day, they posted signs around their West End stores, promoting the in-store search app with wi-fi to enable customers to try. Except (and here’s the thing) there was no product yet. When a customer logged on they were told the app was currently being developed, with a thank you for showing interest of 10% off a book. Foyles example app - White October This enabled Foyle’s to validate their assumptions. Your decision to proceed should be based on evidence you’ve collected.

Customer validation: does my customer’s problem actually exist?

Your product will be used by people. So it makes sense to get a deeper understanding of your customer. Certainly, understanding your typical customer and the issues they have goes hand-in-hand with collecting the quantitative data in the Foyles example above. And having both forms of validation allows you to go back and strengthen your Business Model Canvas. Once you’ve completed your customer conversations, you’ll be ready to adapt your Business Model Canvas. From here, your decision to proceed with a product should be deliberate. Establishing whether a customer problem actually exists will help you make your decision and it is what will enable you to move on to building your Minimal Viable Product – or the simplest version of your product that will get people excited. White October will be an Exhibitor at this year’s Venturefest on 29 June. Dave Fletcher will be speaking at the session on Digital Product Development at 9.30am and a session on Procuring an agency at 16.15. Get connected now.  

About the author

Dave
Fletcher
White October
Dave Fletcher is founder and Managing Director of White October, a digital agency that works unusually closely with its clients to create web and mobile products.

Latest news

Finalists announced for the Trusts’s 2019 Enterprise Awards

Finalists announced for the Trusts’s 2019 Enterprise Awards

The judges for the Trust’s 2019 Enterprise Awards gathered on a hot July day at the new Wood Centre for Innovation at Stansfeld Park to READ MORE

Using Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

Using Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

The hiring process is a critical gateway to economic opportunity, determining who can access meaningful employment and who can achieve ... READ MORE

The new Milk-Round: if students all want jobs in start-ups these days, how do you attract and retain them?

The new Milk-Round: if students all want jobs in start-ups these days, how do you attract and retain them?

Oxford University runs many careers fairs annually where established organisations present their graduate programmes, to attract the ... READ MORE

 

PARTNERS

Book Now!

Now in its 21st year, Venturefest Oxford continues to bring together entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs with investors, support services and a host of like-minded people who want to be part of the county’s business success.

All tickets include: complimentary bus travel to and from the event, access to all Venturefest Oxford sessions, exhibition, showcase, complimentary tea & coffee, lunch and closing drinks reception. Early bird tickets on sale from 23rd April!

Student entry is free of charge – valid ID will be required.

 

Keep in touch

Sign up to the Venturefest Oxford newsletter to make sure you are the first to hear the latest news. The next newsletter will be coming out soon! Make sure you're on the list!

 

 

 

 

Email Preferences

 

Wednesday 11th September 2019
Oxford Brookes University,
Headington Campus