Day 08 — Kicking Off the Customer Discovery Process

My goal for today was to plan out Sprint #1, where we would test out an idea to help kids build the skills and the confidence to manage a chronic health issue. It was time to put our processes to work.

Ideas are easy. Implementation is Hard. — Guy Kawasaki

But by mid-morning, I felt like I had skipped a step. Because we’ve been at this so long, I took for granted the need to define the problem. Over the past 2 years, I’ve probably talked to at least 100 families…do we really need more customer discovery?

The short answer: yes.

Our past discussions never directly focused on this challenge. And rather than solve a problem we had not yet defined, first we need to talk to the experts.

Going Back to Step 1 (credit-Steve Blank’s Lean Development Process)

For today’s customer discovery process, I relied heavily on this book, which is super easy to read and a great, practical application of Lean Principles.

The Idea

1. The Idea

There has been one unifying characteristic across all the parents, teachers, school nurses, healthcare providers, and families we’ve talked to in the past 2 years: kids. Kids are who we’re solving for. Kids are why everyone involved does what they do. Perhaps if we could teach kids the skills and the confidence to manage type 1 diabetes and other chronic health issues, everybody would win.

Seems like a good idea. But now we needed to validate it.

2. A totally unscientific approach to problem validation

I have a habit of diving into a good idea head-first, without considering the opportunity cost of that time or whether it’s actually a good idea. 2 weeks ago, before I started sharing Invincible in public, I sent out an Instagram story on Invincible’s account asking a simple question to families:

My totally unscientific straw poll to families on Instagram

I told myself if I received 5 responses the idea would be worth pursuing; 10 would be a home run (we normally get 1–2 responses at best to our stories). Instead, here’s what we got:

The Poll Results

After removing the 3 non-parent accounts that responded (thanks, friends), we had 20 total families who said they’d be interested in this program. We were onto something.

Defining Assumptions & Hypotheses

So I moved this idea into Sprint #1.

We’re tracking all the work progress in JIRA. For these experiments, I update each card’s description, lean canvas, hypotheses, and details. The process is still a bit clunky and will need to be refined, but here’s the card tracking the work:

Progress!

Customer Discovery Interview Prep

Step #1 — Writing the Interview Script

When planning customer discovery interviews, I write out a script of questions that I want to ask during the interview. In this case, I stole from Lean Customer Development, focusing specifically on understanding from parents the process for teaching kids the skills to be independent. Things I’d like to understand:

  • Is this a known problem for families?
  • What do they do families do today?
  • What is the bigger-picture goal for families in teaching skills?

The final result is a detailed interview script, including an intro and closing.

The Four Customer Discovery Interview Questions (Source-Lean Customer Development)

Step #2 —Finding People to Interview

Normally recruiting people to interview is the hard part. Luckily, that super-quick test gave us 20 potential families to start.

My goal for this week is to interview 5 families — with a stretch goal of 10.

Step #3 — Tracking Outreach

I took the names from the Instagram response and moved them to a simple spreadsheet to track the status of the outreach. There are much more advanced tools (e.g., Hubspot) to do this, but a table got the job done.

Step #4 — Outreach

All of my outreach was via Instagram Messenger. I’ve used this approach for interviewing kids for the Invincible Kids Network and the response rate is usually pretty good.

Here was my initial message I sent to 10 families (tailored for each person):

Outreach to Parents

What Now

Now we wait. If we’re successful, we’ll schedule some interviews and have at least 5 completed before the end of the week to better understand whether this is a real challenge that has a potential market with families or whether it’s a nice idea but not where we should focus. The uncertainty is all part of the fun.

See ya tomorrow.

My goals for writing this series are to 👇:For the next 6 months, I plan to start building Invincible in public. What’s in it for you? Hopefully, mistakes you can avoid mixed with some good ideas and tools that can be useful to you. And for me? Getting back some accountability you lose when you become your own boss.

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Startup founder surviving in his parent’s basement.

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Bob Weishar

Bob Weishar

Startup founder surviving in his parent’s basement.

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