Customer Development by the Numbers
A couple of days ago, more than two hundred founders, CEOs and marketers got together with some very sharp thinkers to talk about making startups successful under the umbrella of FutureM—a week-long series of events about what’s next in marketing.
MITX, which I’m honored to be on the board of, organized FutureM with the help of dozens of businesses. I loved the idea of FutureM and decided to put together an event on customer development because the most common problem I see in companies I work with through FastIgnite is poor linkage between product development and marketing, which is often combined with premature scaling to boot. Customer development is the best methodology I know of to deal with this problem in early- to mid-stage startups. Steve Blank coined the term 8+ years ago, and the methodology has been well-tested and much improved over the years.
I partnered up with General Catalyst Partners to organize the event because they are a venture firm that gets the combination of agile development and customer development—it’s practiced in many of their portfolio companies and plays a key role in how they engage with seed and Series A startups. (Being a part-time exec-in-residence at GC made it easier to pitch the crazy idea of putting together an excellent customer development event on a night when there were at least four other major events going on in town.)
Gus Weber from Microsoft’s NERD Center joined our group and became the event host. Next came the keynote speaker—Bob Dorf, a known marketer, six-time founder/CEO and investor in two dozen startups who is also Steve Blank’s co-author for the next version of the customer development “user guide,” tentatively titled, Customer Development: The Second Decade, due next spring.
This is how our eponymous event was born, and here it is by the numbers…
|1,000+||views of the live stream and video from the event|
|388||people who wanted to attend|
|316||tweets using hashtag #custdev2—follow the link to get a sense of what attendees thought|
|275||people who showed up despite the rain|
|250||minutes from the beginning of the event until the cleaning crew turned off the lights and kicked us out of the building|
|240||seats in the room|
|109||people who tweeted using #custdev2|
|42||dollars; the cost of the lean startup bundle on AppSumo (thanks to Eric Ries of StartupLessonsLearned for mentioning this)|
|32||micro-campaigns to reach out and recruit attendees (no mass mailings)|
|15||apps and items in the lean startup bundle at AppSumo|
|10||percent increase in @gcvp Twitter followers|
|3||books you should read:|
|2||new names announced:
|1||faulty network cable, which nearly prevented the live streaming of the event.|
I will close with a final comment from Bob Dorf:
“Many of the audience questions seemed to turn one way or another on the point that “gee, this is hard, pivots are hard.” So, I accomplished my mission. Entrepreneurship is hard. Damned hard. And if you buy the recent research that one in 3,000 “cocktail napkin” business ideas turns into a business that hits out-of-the-park valuations, that sets the bar far higher for every entrepreneur in startup mode who is passionate about hitting it out of the park. Anyone else should really go get a comfortable W-2 job someplace. Long before I met my wife of 33 years, I lost a very serious, hot live-in girlfriend because she said (literally) “I think you love your business more than me.” She was probably right and I hope she found a wonderful W-2 guy. Startups are hard. I hope that the Customer Development process and lean startup discussions gave the many passionate entrepreneurs in the room a hint at a roadmap to ease their travels.”
Let me know your thoughts on the event or customer development in the comments or at @simeons.