It started with a scatter shot request to over a quarter-million people subscribing to two professional sites on LinkedIn; followed by a personal email request to my 26 industry contacts; and was capped by an outreach effort to bloggers, discussion group contributors, and select representatives from five companies on Forbes “100 Most Innovative Companies” list, plus personalized emails to word-of-mouth referrals. Welcome to the Customer Development process: It is damn hard work.
I knew this going into the process. Steve Blank, founder and leader of the Lean Startup process says so in The Startup Owner’s Manual (page 50).
Yet I’m drawn to wonder, are startups that target BtoB markets challenged to a greater extent? In his book, The Startup Owner’s Manual, Blank, along with co-author Bob Dorf, reference a startup snowboard manufacturer in one example. How easy is that? Take a day off, go up to a local ski resort and speak with millennials.
And if it holds true, BtoB Customer Development interviews are harder to come by than BtoC, is there an even steeper hill to climb when setting out to serve highly-regulated companies (my company, S-T-M Axiom’s niche)?
None of which really matters if your goal is to make your startup vision a reality.
Today starts a new phase in the process of asking for insights on the capacity constraints that are underpinning my business case assumptions with Robo-like cold calls placed to companies listed in a regional directory.