Stating the obvious: customer discovery is essential for startups that hope to achieve product-market fit.
Unfortunately, most of us are not skilled when it comes to talking to strangers. Each member of a startup's founding team was hired for a specific reason, but customer outreach rarely leads the list.
Early-stage startups that hope to refine their value proposition and triangulate target users cannot afford to sit back and wait for customer intelligence to roll in.
Instead, founders need to conduct their own product and marketing experiments using robust methodology that produces actionable insights. If that sounds like extra effort, it shouldn't: it's an essential aspect of your job.
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Elise King, program director of Human Ventures’ entrepreneur-in-residence program, interviewed three founders from her company’s portfolio to learn more about the tactics they used to acquire data:
- Pre-MVP/customer discovery phase: Tiny Organics
- Mid-MVP phase: Tabu
- After product is in-market: Teal
“The overarching theme seems to be this: Listen to your demographic, learn from their experiences in order to find a way to truly service them, and don’t be afraid to pivot if needed,” advises King.
Product experiments are easy to manage, but they're most effective when multiple team members are involved. Instead of having one person share their findings with the company, rope as many stakeholders into the process as possible.
I managed customer listening sessions at one startup that were so fruitful, our product managers, designers and engineers started attending. The direct interactions they had with early users helped us make smarter choices and fueled growth.
Go talk to some strangers: what might you learn from your earliest, most loyal customers?
Thanks very much for reading; I hope you have a great week.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+
Will the Citrix-Tibco merger create enterprise magic? Vista clearly thinks so
Most companies find it difficult to adapt to changing environments, but for legacy enterprise giants like Citrix Systems and Tibco, change is a mountain that keeps getting taller.
Where some see problems, though, others see opportunity: Vista Equity Partners and Elliot Management are betting that merging Citrix and Tibco to create an enterprise giant with leading products will help open cross-selling opportunities and market share, Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm report.
“Both companies are now on make-it-or-break path, [but at least they are] no longer lingering on the doldrums of slow innovation,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research.
How to build and maintain momentum in your fundraising process
Capturing investors’ attention isn’t enough when you’re raising money — often, you have to convince them your funding process is efficient and that you’re talking to other investors.
Momentum is key to building this level of interest, writes Nathan Beckord, CEO of Foundersuite.com, and that energy will propel your entire fundraising process.
After opening with a “great hack for asking for email introductions,” Beckord shares five hustle tips for maintaining and capitalizing on momentum that will maximize investor interest and appeal.
Bullish or bearish? What to expect for Europe VC activity in 2022
European venture capital had a stellar 2021, recording investments of €102.9 billion, up 120% from 2020.
Ample capital, great quality startups, and healthy deal flow are a few factors that will drive the European startup market to even greater heights, Nalin Patel, EMEA VC Analyst at PitchBook, and Christoph Janz, co-founder at Point Nine Capital, told Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm.
However, a slow-down is also likely, as changing exit expectations linked to public market declines may trickle down to early-stage venture investment in Europe, Janz said.
“There’s institutional momentum in the market via funds that VCs have already raised, and FOMO won’t die out overnight. On the other hand, public markets are jitter-inducing and exits are on hold,” Alex and Anna wrote.
To cool down China’s overheated robotics industry, go back to the basics
Robotics and software may be lumped in together when we talk about tech, but the investment philosophies for each are wildly different.
So while China sees a bubble of rapid investments in robotics startups whose valuations are rising even faster, software investors must work to understand the robotics industry, its financial needs, and timelines before they jump in, says He Huang, partner at Northern Light Venture Capital.
“Investors and companies need to go back to business basics and resist the industry’s typical impatience for exits on both sides of the negotiation table.”
Joe Rogan, economics, and why capitalism is making people blame the CCP
Streaming platforms love exclusive content — at this stage in the industry's development, these deals are the only things that distinguishes one company from the next.
In 2020, Spotify licensed Joe Rogan's iconoclastic podcast for more than $100 million.
But today, hundreds of scientists and doctors say Rogan is using his perch to spread COVID-19 misinformation, and the resulting furor has led several musicians to pull their work from the platform.
“This put Spotify in a pickle,” writes Alex Wilhelm in The Exchange.
“The company wants to have both a commodity music business and an exclusive podcasting business. But instead, its exclusive podcasting strategy was undercutting its core value proposition and revenue driver, namely offering most recorded music for a regular fee.”