Gauging Customer Value - Lessons Learned from HTR LaunchPad Demo Days

Posted by Michele Nichols on Wed, Jun 05, 2013

Heeding the Signs

stop to assess customer value and key messages

The business community of Rochester packed Geva Theatre last night to hear the founders of 12 start-ups pitch their concepts. These entrepreneurs are 12 weeks into the discovery process of the HTR LaunchPad program, exploring the viability of their products in their target markets. Nearly all had experienced dramatic shifts, or pivots, in their product offering, their target customer or their go-to-market plan. 

Each founder was given 5 minutes on stage to tell their story. 

The founder of myWriteMate learned that she loved to build, but the barriers presented a bigger challenge than she wanted to tackle. Her path now will be one of licensing rather than company building. Rather than blindly pursuing her original aim, she sought truth and was open to hearing competitive challenges and tough customer feedback. The result? She saved herself years of angst and wasted money. 

Others, such as the founders of GradeSnap, entirely redefined their product offering to fill a void. After discovering that the market for their original concept was extremely small and inaccessible, the founders of GradeSnap decided to focus on an area where they really saw a need: recruiting.

You can read all the elevator pitches on the HTR LaunchPad Blog.

What You Can Do

These founders were sharp, well rehearsed, and on message. Whether you're a seasoned business owner or fledgling entrepreneur, there are lessons to be learned from this event: 

  • Tell a story. A single, on-point story. It needs to present a clear solution to what HTR LaunchPad calls, the “one” problem: It should speak to one pain point of one distinct customer segment.
  • Reinforce your story with simple, powerful graphics. If you give a PowerPoint presentation, use only one picture per slide, but make it interesting enough to hold your audience’s attention for 10-30 seconds. Also limit text to one or two words to drive home your point.
  • Know how you'll monetize. Pick the straightest path to the money. We’d all like to be the Super Entrepreneur who slays dragons and leaps over mountains to reach our goal, but sometimes the smarter choice is to change course and avoid these obstacles altogether.
  • Go to market with the simplest product as fast as you can. Add features and functionality after you start generating revenue. 

These start-ups and founders have a unique advantage: They're not so invested in status or being right that they ignore warning signs. They're open to bad news and fast to react. 

How are you testing new ideas? Can your team hear the word "no" and run with it?

Learn how we help high tech businesses test viability early, or meet with us to discuss vetting your idea in the market.

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Topics: Business Insights, Change and Innovation, Positioning, Branding and Identity