Your First Dozen Enterprise Customers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, Demos, Lead Generation, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

traction-bookMy interview with Gabriel Weinberg was originally published Sep-8-2010. He was doing research for what became his fantastic book Traction. We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and I can remember he kept returning in different ways to what was needed to close your first dozen enterprise customers.

Founder Story: Edith Harbaugh of LaunchDarkly

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Design of Experiments, Founder Story, skmurphy

I got to know Edith Harbaugh (@edith_h) when she was moderating the Lean Startup Circle Group and published two guest blog posts by her: “It’s Your Execution, Not Your Idea” and “Managing Email Conversations With Customers.” I also invited her to take part in a webinar on Innovator’s DNA: Experimenting Skill. During the roundtable conversation she mentioned some lessons learned from a bicycle trip across the United States–I thought to myself, anyone willing to bike across the country is ready to become a technology entrepreneur. So when she emailed me that she had co-founded LaunchDarkly I reached out to interview her. What follows is an edited transcript.

The Next Best Thing But Not Yet

Written by Max Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development

It will be twenty plus years before there is a 3D printer in most homes due to limitations of the cost of the machine, material, obtaining software and learning how to use the software. Other fundamentally problem that prevent 3D printers being adapted by the public are to understanding of design, physics, and material science and a change of behavior of making things at home.

Innovation: the Trick is Managing the Pain

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Any innovation effort is a painful struggle punctuated by false starts and dead ends. Your efforts are met with lack of interest even when a basic invention is working and active resistance when it starts to replace the tried and true. Like any childbirth the trick is managing the pain long enough to deliver.

The Uncanny Valley of Email Automation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Consulting Business, Customer Development, Sales, skmurphy

Trust is built over repeated interactions between people. If your business requires long term relationships then you have to make sure that investments in automation are not deployed in a way that undercut your ability to have real conversations. Unfortunately, some uses of email automation tools are pushing sales conversations into the “Uncanny Valley” because they strive to simulate–but miss–a genuine personalized touch.

5 Ways To Start Customer Discovery Interviews

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy, Workshop

Customer discovery interviews are essential to testing key B2B product hypotheses and understanding your target customers’ needs. Broadly there are five ways that you can reach out to potential customers to have a discovery conversation. All of them assume that you have a clear picture of who your target is and a few key questions that they will be willing and able to answer that will indicate they have a problem or need your solution may address.

Few–If Any–Silicon Valley Secrets

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Consulting Business, Customer Development

I signed up for a mailing list a while ago from a reasonably famous entrepreneur and he sent me this mass email in late November promising to share “Silicon Valley Secrets.” I don’t know if it’s because I have worked in Silicon Valley for more than three decades but I found the whole thing kind of sad (of course, he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank).

Webinar Replay: Innovator’s DNA Series Overview

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Customer Development, Video

Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy walk through a five part webinar series on “The Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen,and Clayton Christensen. Sean thinks it’s the best book on innovation and entrepreneurship for 2011 and useful for any team that is trying to innovate. Each webinar will be in a roundtable format and include first time entrepreneurs and experienced innovators discussing lessons learned applying the five key discovery skills described in the book.

Serious Problems With Business Model Canvas For Startups

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in checklist, Customer Development, skmurphy

Q: I’m just about to get out of the building to validate hypotheses and start learning, but I have a problem with the business model canvas. I have been advised to develop detailed hypotheses before starting customer discovery. This is my startup and I have no idea how to fill in the business model canvas channel box or answer Steve Blank’s BMC channel/pricing hypotheses question on “the price at which half of the customers say yes.”

Customer Development and Channel Development

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

I am rescuing a dialog on customer development and channel development I had with Ash Maurya from the comments to his “Lessons Learned in 2010” blog post. I am still at work on the “system of simultaneous equations” model and I think his new thinking on the “Customer Factory” is moving closer to iterating against multiple constraints simultaneously. I know with Theory of Constraints you should focus on the rate limiting constraint but after a few iterations everything can start to pinch.

I continue to work with the Okaloa team on Discovery Kanban and think that it also allows for the integration of option management into the next set of actions you are considering. This is still a work in progress and I welcome comments or suggestions for improvement.

Tristan Kromer on Testing Customer and Value Hypotheses

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

These are excerpts from  Episode 9 of Outlier on Air: Tristan Kromer, A Lean Approach to Business.  They are in the same sequence the took place in the interview but a number of stories and asides have been omitted to focus on what I felt were some extremely valuable insights from Tristan Kromer on clarifying and testing customer and value hypotheses.

No Such Thing as a Random Sample of Five People

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

Q: I have 3D printed a couple prototypes of my product. I am going to get user feedback by letting security guards–my target market–test if for free for a few days. How many prospect should I have test it before I can determine if there is a market for the product.

Since you are 3D printing and can iterate I would start by getting feedback from five folks: see Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users by Don Norman for some research on why this is a reasonable place to start.

You will more than likely end up talking to more folks before deciding if there is a market or not but working with a small group at one time and testing iteratively will be easier to manage and teach you things more rapidly.

What Are Core Skills For Customer Development?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development

Q: What is the core mission for customer development at an early-stage start-up? Wat are the skills necessary to execute on that mission?

Customer Development Mission

Core mission is early customers, early revenue, early references. All of these reduce risk, demonstrate traction, and make subsequent sales efforts easier (and for bootstrappers, keep the lights on).

User Experience Research vs. Customer Discovery

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Sales, skmurphy

Q: Why don’t you ever blog about User Experience Research (UX)?

The short answer is that we don’t do it.

Our Clients Want Leads and Deals

My clients come to me for help generating leads and closing deals, so that narrows my focus.

We don’t sell studies to larger firms that want a lot of fingerprints on the gun if things go wrong. If things go wrong for too long for my clients they are out of business. It tends to keep me–and them–focused very directly on revenue. We tend to focus much more on the “job to be done” by the product instead of constructing user personas.

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