I blogged about the “Startup Lessons Learned Conference on April 23” about three weeks ago and now the conference is tomorrow (April 23rd) in San Francisco. Whether you are planning to attend in person or at a remote streaming session (more than 60 locations are available see http://www.sllconf.com/streaming ) I think the best way to take advantage of the conference material would be to read two chapters from Steve Blank’s “Four Steps to the Epiphany” (cheaper at http://www.cafepress.com/kandsranch): Chapter 3 on “Customer Discovery” and Chapter 4 on “Customer Validation. Ash Mauyra has also written three blog posts from his entrepreneurial perspective that I have found to be the best description, “from the inside out” of what customer development feels like. I would encourage you to read the following in advance:
- “Customer Development for My Web Startup Part 1“
- “Customer Development for My Web Startup Part 2“
- “Bootstrapping a Lean Startup“
Now, write down your current key hypotheses and identify which of these you are going to test in the next two to thirteen weeks. Come up with a rough plan of attack before you come to the conference or watch the video. Here are some key hypotheses you may want to test;
- Who is your target customer? What are some simple tests or questions that can identify them?
- What problem or need of theirs do you address. What are symptoms–from your target customer’s perspective not yours–that they will admit to about the problem or need?
- What’s the minimum feature set you need to address the target customer’s need. What is the customer’s perspective on the benefits that it will offer?
- How do these benefits compare to your target customer’s status quo and currently available alternatives? How will you differentiate your offering?
- How will they value your offering? How much can you charge?
There are a number of good presentations planned for the day, see http://www.sllconf.com/program and review the description of the session against the hypotheses you want to test in the next three months. Schedule time now with your team and/or advisors to sit down for an hour or two sometime next week and revisit your hypotheses (maybe a talk has suggested a more important one you should address first) in light of what you hear at the conference. Update your plans accordingly.
If you are attending the conference in person I will be there all day and would be happy to spend some time to review your key hypotheses and near term set of experiments to measure and assess them. Please bear in mind my experience has been startups selling to businesses so there may be other mentors with more appropriate experience if you are launching a media or consumer oriented offering: I am certain any of the other mentors on site would be happy to review your plan of attack as well. If you are watching remotely please feel free to send me an e-mail outlining your key hypotheses and intended course of action for the next two to three months and we can schedule a short call to review them.
If you are organizing a Lean Startup Circle event in May or June these might be some useful topics to address:
- What I Learned at the SLLConf and Changed Plans Accordingly
- What We have Learned about key hypotheses from experiments in the last Month
You are also welcome to discuss these topics at a Bootstrappers Breakfast if one is available in your area.
I hope this will help entrepreneurs get the most out of the SLLConf experience and accelerate their businesses. Please feel free to approach me at the conference, I always enjoy comparing notes with entrepreneurs. We are rolling out a new service for folks trying to make sense of the electronic design automation industry in partnership with a semantic technology firm: I will be using the conference to walk through key assumptions we are making about the offering to ensure I haven’t overlooked something.
Update April 23: I am attending Steve Blank‘s talk at the Startup Lessons Learned Conference and I was reminded I have a number of posts on customer development that may help to offer a perspective on Customer Development 1.0 to provide context for his 2.0 version.
Update April 25: I have posted a “Startup Lessons Learned Coverage Roundup” that I will update through the end of May with news coverage and blog posts about conference sessions.