I should have been reaching out to all those people um and that is something that i’ve taken from and realized yeah these are the missing things along the journey when i was doing hackath with my current work i work at a health startup that makes a social network for doctors and that’s what we do for everything we ask customers directly we connect with them we figure out okay what are your needs how can we make this work we put out uh wireframes we ask people on our team what they think we make a beta product and then from there customers look at it and they say wow.
This is stupid they give us feedback we iterate and that critical piece is what do potential customers think even in just the ideation stage making sure that you have your strengths weaknesses threats and opportunities nailed down really helps you plan for the future things you can ask potential customers include what product do you use for posting your hackathon and does it suit your needs so for us a lot of people said yeah we don’t really have something that works.
We’ve flopped between eventbrite and devpost and it hasn’t worked so that’s a problem what would convince you to switch from a competing product so for uh our hackathon it was sort of like well if it can successfully run all of the registration process which wasn’t very complicated and be bug free and show all the information pertaining to the hackathon and then have a way to submit your things that would be enough for us to switch that’s an important piece of information that’s really valuable to get from somebody and they may not know.
But it’s regardless it’s really interesting to find out the willingness to switch nobody really pays attention to it and that’s good that you brought that up um have you thought about like did you what kind of questions did you ask so for example if i’m already paying for something if i invested some money into training i’m talking about big other sas products that we had to deal with in similar situations uh you assume since your product is so great and it all has all these bells and whistles and it might be even free that they’ve willing to switch it automatically not understanding their whole uh buying process or operations process or things like that i really like you brought that point up because that’s something that a lot of us miss.
Don’t even realize that at any given time yeah and a lot of people don’t have the power to even choose because it’s set by the organization and essentially they would have to put in a huge level of effort to get that to be changed for instance in the startup i work at we’re very nimble we put things out very quickly and it’s an amazing experience but even there uh we have a member of our team who does all the wireframes and all the prototypes and there’s a piece of software that he uses that is to die for it’s amazing uh but to get our company to switch and pay for a different thing it’s it takes a lot more work than you’d think because the right people have to sign off on it.
Switching things and switching where money goes takes a lot of checks and balances so what’s usually your sales cycle some of those sales cycles it can take up to a year right yeah yeah it’s it’s a really long time and because of that there’s that commitment that you have to have and you need people who are pushing hard for it from the inside and even then it’s not a guarantee there’s there’s a lot of who knows a lot of unknowns but if you can identify what would make them petition for it what would make them say this is something i need.
Then you’ve got you’ve got somebody who will advocate for you and that is really powerful because then you’re not just testing okay do you like this idea then you have someone backing it who will help you promote it potentially and get actual users so this is part of why finding customers before you’ve even built anything can be really valuable because then you identify their needs and then you have advocates who are helping shape your product using their feedback another thing is how much would you be willing to pay for the product which is very similar uh and who do you know who would be interested because when you’re going out there.
When you’re asking people these things hopefully you’ll hit somebody who has connections and then from there you can find more people to ask more feedback to get and hopefully down the road more connections people be able to get using your product things to consider the other thing is that you’ll get a lot of advice hopefully and the best advice is when you get an abundance of really hard to take advice um this applies anywhere of course whether it’s your studies for instance i worked on a paper uh this past summer for summer research with some guys in france.
It was really cool and the my co-workers were super hard on me and they asked all the questions and they ripped me to shreds and they ripped me to shreds over and over and over and over again for three months before finally i had something that was like yeah okay this is a paper decent and then it got accepted it’s similar everywhere the more advice you get the harder it is to take that advice and the more critical it is those are the places where you have to rethink your product.
Rethink how things work and then that’s when you actually create something that’s better than the alternatives because your idea off the bat sure it might be better but what really makes it magical is when you have all this all of these changes from all sorts of people who are potential users and they have a say in where it goes and then you realize oh cool okay this is what it takes to make something that people will actually use so part one of the market validation and prototyping stuff that we’ve discussed so far has been making sure that you’ve identified what makes your uh your product or your business unique making sure that you understand what your strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats are you receive your uh your feedback from your users and then you probably might want to do step two over again and make sure that you understand okay yeah based on our feedback.