How a Cow Catches a Customer

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How a cow catches a customer

One of my favorite Dutch sayings is “you never know how a cow catches a hare”. It means something along the lines of ‘you can never tell how something will happen’. Last week I learned that when you start to build your first product, the opposite of this saying should be true. Let me tell you what I mean.

Erik Blog post Cow

You are the cow (no disrespect!). Your customer is the hare. As shown on the picture, you are eagerly wagging your tail, trying to ‘catch’ your first customer. If you don’t know how the cow is going to catch a hare, you need to go back and do more research.

In order to catch the hare you need to be aware of how the hare currently solves his/her current issues. It is not enough to be aware of the bigger picture: No, you need to go down to the dirty details.

You need to thoroughly understand how your customer solves issues and uses current solutions, how this solution process works. This thorough understanding is one of the reasons entrepreneurs who previously worked in the field they are building a company in, are more successful.

It is vital to know what triggers your customer to use the current solution. What steps are involved in this solution? Which steps are difficult to accomplish? And what do current solutions lack?

When our advisors asked for this process, we discovered that we lacked this level of detailed insight. This week we went back to the customer and asked, very precisely, how their current solutions worked. We found out that we could offer tangible insights our customer would pay for, which would be easier than our original (more complex) solution.

Although it is attractive to directly offer a better result (and complex solution), making a single step in your customer’s current solution easier might already help him/her a lot. This in itself could already be an awesome product. And on top of that, it is easier to make.

I found out that a cow catches a customer by closely examining how the customer walks and talks. By doing this, we were able to be much more precise in building our first product.

Erik van Vulpen is co-founder of Holland Startup’s first HR analytics startup. You can follow him on twitter at @van_Vulpen or on his personal blog

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