A common struggle faced by founding teams is understanding the distinction between creating a technology and creating a business. History’s entrepreneurial graveyard is rife with brilliant, unappreciated inventions — technologies created by talented engineers who, sadly, didn’t know how (or couldn’t be bothered) to convert invention into enterprise.
Even after having read (and believed) all the right books over the last couple of years, our team here at keen.io began the TechStars journey with an alarming blind spot in this area. In one of our very first mentor meetings here at TechStars, I betrayed my own underdeveloped business savvy when I declared that, in five years’ time, “The entire internet should be using us!!” While I still believe this is largely true from a technical perspective, it’s pointless and borderline masturbatory from a business perspective.
Thankfully, we’re getting help with that.
On day 1 at TechStars, David Cohen made it pretty clear that, however many customers you’re talking to right now, you should probably be talking to more. During the first month of this program, ten customer calls per week is the minimum (not counting friendlies like your old boss, your buddy at company X, etc.). Four weeks later, I can tell you that this has been much more difficult and much more important than we anticipated.
If focusing on customer development means, like it did for us, not writing any code for a month straight, then so be it! It’s the only way you can be sure you’re creating something people actually want, not just something they should want.