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What happens when your product comes down from your ivory tower? 17 April, 2015

Posted by varoom in Management, Strategy.
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I see quite a few entrepreneurs who feel firstly they know best what a customer needs and secondly there is no need to talk to customers before they develop their product. They disappear up into their ivory tower and develop the product in isolation.

Now; who’s to say they are wrong? Maybe they do know best what the market needs. Far be it that my crystal ball is any better than the next persons. However, what if they are wrong and the product being developed is not quite what the customer needs? They could risk all that investment in time and product development and just have to start again.

What’s the harm in talking to a few customers? I believe you always learn something from interaction with real customers, this could be to your advantage, you may discover a killer feature that changes completely your business prospects. You will, perhaps more importantly, learn what you don’t need to do and save yourself some time and money.

Investors will nearly always want to see customer engagement before they invest. So if you need to raise funding that interaction with customers and the development of a product which has early demand from that market will enhance your prospects. Also you will demonstrate that you have invested R&D resources wisely on features that have real customer demand.

The lean startup business model together with agile development techniques can reinforce the need to become closer with your early customers and use them to test out your product features as you proceed with development.

So don’t be afraid of engaging with customers, the right ones will understand the concept of a product in development, they will give you valuable feedback, they will ensure you build the right product and help you avoid wasting time and money on features you don’t need.