Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lean Canvas and Customer Interviews

This past week I have been working laying out a lean canvas and starting to apply some of the customer development lessons I have learned so far.  I almost feel like I am back in sixth grade science again making a hypothesis and setting up experiments to help prove that hypothesis.  My goal was to lay out my problem, solution, customer segments, unique value proposition, and revenue streams on paper.  There is a great free tool for this at  http://leancanvas.com.  I then created some initial experiments to test if the assumptions I have made are really true or not.  Getting all of this info down in written form has helped free up my mind, and easily visualize my idea.  It is similar to a business plan, but takes less time and provides a lot of the same thought pattern.  It is also a lot easier to modify than a formal business plan.

My initial hypothesis experiments are being done through customer interviews.  Last week I reached out to several friends for referrals of people who meet may target demographic for a customer (parents of children grades k-3).  I also posted a request in some of my LinkedIn groups, Twitter, and Facebook.  I was surprised to get a few emails within 24 hours from interested participants.  Some were not local, and so those interviews had to be done by phone.  Others were in the Chicagoland area, and I was able to meet up for a cup of coffee and get some great insight to what parent's are currently using for reading practice, what problems they face, what solutions they envision, and the price point of which they would be willing to pay for a solution that meets their needs.

The whole customer interview process has been exciting so far.  I have to admit I was a little scared to find out that my idea was not really something people would want.  The results seen so far are very positive, but I have been surprised by a few responses I have received.  Those responses are helping me refine the real problem parents find in practicing reading with their children.  I was also presented with a few features that I had not thought of, but parents seem to think were important.  Overall the process has been refreshing.  It is helping me narrow down a MVP solution that my customers will want to use and spend money for.

My goal is to get about 10 more interviews completed before I take further steps forward in building an actual product to test.  If you are a parent of a child in grades k-3 that would be interested in participating in some of our early development activities, then I ask that you email me at james@readingglue.com.  We can do it over a cup of tea / coffee if you are local to the Chicagoland area.  I am also open to talking to you over the phone if you are distant or feel more comfortable having a discussion this way.  Anyone that helps out in the early customer development period will have first access to the software when it is ready to test.  I am proud of the great customer advisers we have started building relationships with so far, and look forward to working with all of these people as we continue down the road to a full product launch.


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