Great businesses have been talking to their customers to drive and inform them for centuries. The Lean Startup methodology when combined with good product management habits has brought modern tools, tactics and concepts to help make it easier for all of us to be customer driven.
As I’ve practiced customer development and product management at venture-backed companies like KISSmetrics, Backupify and oneforty, as well as my own startups Lighthouse and Greenhorn Connect, I’ve found there’s been a lot more talk than action in the field; too many people say they’re lean but don’t actually practice it. I believe much of that is due to too much talk about theory and too little on how to actually do it.
I hope this page can help you understand exactly what to do with explicit examples and anecdotes.
I’m writing an e-book on Building Customer Driven Products.
You can sign up for updates, early access to chapters and help shape the topics I cover by signing up here.
Keys to Getting Started being Customer Driven:
How to Structure (and get the most out of) Customer Development Interviews
– If you have any questions about how to actually conduct a customer development interview and what to ask, this is a post that will help you immensely. The post is loaded with example questions, a good structure to follow and key pitfalls to avoid that I’ve learned in doing hundreds of interviews.
I also have given this as a presentation, most recently at Lean Startup Machine San Francisco in December 2013:
How to Write a Product Thesis to Communicate Customer Needs to Design and Engineering Teams
Once you gather all this customer feedback, insights, and data, you need a way to communicate to the team what you learned. This is critical especially for your engineering and design partners you should collaborate with to come up with a great solution. The Product Thesis is a bite-size, easy structure I learned from Josh Elman a VC at Greylock who ran product at Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.
95 Ways to Find Your First Customers
– As Paul Graham says, you want to do things that don’t scale early on for your startup. This is a massive list of such ideas which can help you find your first customers to talk to for custdev interviews as well as help you find channels you’ll build to in a more sophisticated way.
– An overview of the first two steps in Steve Blank’s 4 Steps to the Epiphany. These are the steps to getting to the coveted “Product-Market Fit.” It was a presentation I gave to Swedish entrepreneurs visiting Silicon Valley in August 2013.
Managing Product Using Lean Practices:
The Lean Product Lifecycle
– So you understand the Lean Startup methodology and the concepts behind it. Great. But how do you actually feed this into building a great product? Through discussions with dozens of product managers, I came to understand the Lean Product Lifecycle that takes your product building process and makes it align perfectly with the Learn-Build-Measure loop.
The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Customer Driven Company
– Customer Development should not be just one person’s job in a company. While at KISSmetrics, we involved everyone on the 30+ person team in the process. This talk I gave at 500 Startups can also be viewed here.
…And a few other posts that may help
- Don’t build that feature! How to use the 5 Why’s to learn what your customer really is saying
- How Do You Get Back on the Customer Development Horse?
- 5 Lessons Learned in a Lean Startup
If you ever have questions, please reach out! I’m happy to help.
You can find me on Twitter @Evanish or Email me at evanish dot j at gmail.
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Great overview, Jason. I just Tweeted this, I think it’s really helpful for entrepreneurs looking to try going lean, but unsure where to start. We just hit product/market fit, and I wish I had read this before a lot of our learning through mistakes :)
Thanks for sharing it and glad it was helpful!
I hope you’ll take the time to write about some of your experiences getting to product market fit. It’s by sharing what we know that everyone benefits. If you do, please let me know and I’m happy to return the favor of a share!
Will do :)
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Hey Jason, what happened with the book?
Great question. I’ve got good news and bad news:
1) Bad news: I have not had time to finish the book.
2) Good news: I have not had time to finish the book, because the tactics I recommend have worked. They helped me launch Lighthouse which is now doing very well and consuming all of my time.
I don’t have a timeline to complete the book, but it’s still on my bucket list for when I have more time.
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