The Blind Pivot

Taxonomy of the Lean Startup Anti-Pivot

Pivoting has been up and down the Gartner Hype Cycle at least twice now. Sometimes it's an accurate term to describe what entrepreneurs have to do to survive: adapt to customer feedback.

However, sometimes it's an annoying buzzword that is poorly understood and grating to the ears. I'm on a constant search for good patterns for entrepreneurs to follow and bad anti-patterns to avoid. So as a follow up to my Taxonomy of the Lean Startup Pivot, here is the Taxonomy of the Lean Startup Anti-Pivot. Complete with a piñata!

(Special thanks to Mike Woloszynowicz - @mkbiz for coming up with the term "Blind Pivot" and inspiring this post.)

Blind Pivot - Changing business models without getting out of the building and talking to the humans.

Continue reading

Pivoting on Investor Feedback a.k.a Beware of Mentors

Don't outsource your decision making.

Let me explain.

Investors, mentors, advisors, and other experts are great to talk to. They'll offer valuable insight on market sizes, suggest great customer acquisition strategies, and sometimes offer you wads of cash to continue with your business.

But when I hear someone say,

Based on feedback from our investors we've pivoted our idea.

...I can't help but cringe. (Update: This behavior has now been dubbed The Assisted Blind Pivot)

I've said it again and again...the only expert on your business is you.

Continue reading

How to Lose a Customer in Six Easy Steps

Customers matter. Customer development doesn't end with product/market fit. Your customer support process is an ongoing dialog with the customer that provides valuable information to just just fix problems, but discover new product opportunities.

Companies that forget the customer are denying themselves the right to innovate.

The Saga

It started simply enough, there was a fairly obvious $8,364,175.00 error in my financial statement from Mint.com (now owned by Intuit) that prompted me to contact customer support with this email:

Mint is showing "Your $8,364,175.00 purchase from Peated has cleared your PayPal - PayPal Account account."

It should go without saying that I have not spent over eight million dollars on anything. The charge was 175 EUROs.

Thank you,

Tristan

Continue reading

rock star

Top 3 Ways to Fail at Customer Development

The squarest disco ball you'll ever see

The customer confirmed all of our hypotheses! We're awesome! I mean really, who wouldn't want a square disco ball? Let's go build it!

Bullshit.

In the unlikely event that your revolutionary new product, the square disco ball, is actually a customer need, the customer will still challenge your expectations of what the product should be with either:

Pricing discrepancies - "I would've paid more than $2000 for that." Unexpected use cases - "This will make a great piñata!" Marketing material miscommunication - "What is this disco thing of which you speak?" Ridiculous feature requests that no one else will want - "Why doesn't this disco ball come in a nice plaid?"

If you take the time to talk to customers and learn absolutely nothing new about your product, even if only a few random brainstorm ideas, then you probably were talking to not with the customer.

Continue reading

Lean User Experience Residency with LUXr

The Lean Startup movement is only a couple years old, and Customer Development as first described by Steve Blank isn't too much older. So it was a bit of a shock for me to learn that there is a whole academic (and practical) discipline out there which has been doing something suspiciously close to Customer Development for well over two decades.

Not to put down Eric Ries, Patrick, Brant, etc., but that's far more mature than anything Lean Startup has yet done. So I figure they've got something good to teach me.

Continue reading

Stay Tuned for Hacking User Experience

I've got about five posts in the queue but I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to proof and publish them. I've spent the week hacking away on MonkeyMake.it as part of the LUXr.co residency program where I'm learning more about User Experience design under the mentorship of Janice Fraser (@celevergirl) and her #leanUX mafia including my friend Tim McCoy (@seriouslynow).

So in short, sorry...got to run! I'll be back next week with a series of posts on User Experience. I'll got through all the tips and tricks I'm picking up as well as how we're applying them for MonkeyMake.it

Until then, please enjoy this monkey and check out what we're doing at MonkeyMake.it:

A monkey could write this blog...and one does.

Continue reading