Talk Early and Often
As a founder, you are your product’s chief advocate, but the natural consequence of this relationship is confirmation bias. This in turn makes it difficult to get an objective sense for where your product really stands. In this situation, one of the best things you can do is pressure test your offering with prospective customers.
“I started asking folks if they would pay $25K for it and most said ‘no.’ I kept asking until someone said ‘yes.’ Once the first customer said ‘yes,’ that’s when I knew we were ready to raise money.”
Co-founder and CEO, Cube
If you’ve identified your target customer, it is never too early to start talking to them. Initiating dialogue sooner rather than later builds deeper relationships, which in turn create more valuable conversations.
Ask candidly about the strengths and weaknesses of your product, and use that information to refine it. Compliments are nice, but they’re also free, so don’t be afraid to push customers and dig a little deeper on where things need work. When they’re ready to reach for their wallets, you’ll know you have something genuinely cohesive and compelling.
“Customer feedback fills in your blind spots,” says Rajeev Batra, who led Mayfield’s investment in Cube. “You know all your product’s highlights because you wrote the pitch, but it’s much harder to look at something you’ve worked hard on and point out its weak spots. You need honest user feedback for that, so start the conversation early, and build from there.”