Courtesy of the National Science Foundation thru Michigan Technical University 11/12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz 07/13
Lesson #1: Get to know your “potential” Customers. Since you’re are not a big corporation, don’t act like one. “The big boys know their customers, so they go from their lab to the big Market,” says the professor. “We have to do it the other way around, from the bottom up. We ask potential customers: What is your pain? And then we ask ourselves if we have something that will cure it. Hopefully at the end of the day, we know what problem our discovery can tackle and how much they’ll pay you for it. A lot of startups fail because they don’t do this. I cant over-emphasize the importance.
How it Works. It seemed obvious, Entrepreneur Winslow said. Of course you should talk with the people who might buy what you’re selling. Actually doing it is a different matter. In two short afternoons, the lead Entrepreneurs were required to contact & interview 10 potential customers. “I’ve worked in an academic setting my whole life, and it made me nervous to go out and talk to people I’d never met,” he said. ” But I discovered that people are really open and willing to talk about their industry and their problems. I’ve become much more comfortable making “cold calls”.
The I-Corps Curriculum is based on an entrepreneurship course by Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley guru of eight (8) Startups and Author of “How to build a Startup”. The whole theme behind the I-Corps method Steve Blank developed, is to “Get Out & Talk to Customers”, Researcher Diebel said. “By the time we’re done, we will have contacted 100 “potential” Customers.”
Validating the Market. That’s a critical first step toward launching a business. “If you are ever going to get a technology-based company financed, you need to validate that market,” Researcher Diebel said. “Conducting 100 interviews is something you will need to do before you can be successful anyway. [Wiz4biz: Before you are overwhelmed, I think you can get by on talking to 5 to 10 – particularly if you see similar results.] NSF’s focus is on getting that work done up front.” NSF also stresses that the Lead Entrepreneur is the key player. “It’s not about whether a company directly benefits,” Researcher Diebel said. “The focus is on giving a new set of skills to lead Entrepreneurs that they can use throughout their careers.”
[ Validating the Market contintued + I-Corps commitment & Reference info in the next Premium Content ]