Y Combinator — a successful start-up incubator — has a mantra: Talk to your users!
Here is Y Combinator’s advice from the How to Start a Startup Lecture Series at Stanford (which I highly recommend!):
“At YC, we tell founders to work on their product, talk to users, exercise, eat and sleep, and very little else. All the other stuff I just mentioned — PR, conferences, recruiting advisers, doing partnerships — you should ignore all of that, and just build a product and get it as good as possible by talking to your users.”
Looking back at 14+ years of entrepreneurship, and falling into different of those traps — conferences, advisers, partnerships, not talking to users — I couldn’t be more passionate about this advice. Follow it, and your already miserable odds of success (remember: 90% of startups fail) have gone up significantly.
Okay. Now we know we need to talk to users. But how exactly should it be done?
Recently I discovered Jobs-to-be-Done, a fantastic framework which answers exactly this question. It helps you understand why people bought your product, in a depth I have never seen before.
I instantly fell in love and am currently applying it at Exsila to learn why people register and use our service. I visited an Exsila power-user on Friday and spent nearly three hours talking to him. What an eye-opener!
How to get started with this method
1. Watch the Milkshake video (5 min)
2. Listen to the Mattress customer interview (48 min)
3. Listen to the Mattress interview Debriefing (54 min)
4. Hooked? Then go wild and listen to all podcast episodes (currently my favourite show!)
5. Do you prefer reading? Check out this overview (17 min read)
6. Read the handbook (just 60 short pages, I just finished it today and am ready to rumble!)
7. Recruit interviewees
8. If possible, do all customer interviews face-to-face (or at least the first few ones)
9. Rule of 10: Do 10 interviews, analyze, and then decide whether to do 10 more