Friday, August 10, 2012

Tristan Kromer's Customer Development and User Experience

Who is Tristan Kromer? According to his self-portrait
I poke, prod, and question startups. I've spent 3 years in Silicon Valley as a lean startup advocate, spent 10 in the music industry, worked 5 in IT security, lived in 5 different countries, and studied both philosophy and business (separately).
This "separately" is superfluous. With a few differences almost all in the Meetup room Wednesday evening in San Francisco  was like a carbon copy of Tristan. Just replace "music" with "fiction writing" and "IT security" with "Cloud Computing" and instead of 5 different countries, what about 6 different passports and here I am, yours truly. Not a single corporate envoy in this meetup.

Tristan does not believe in words. He believes in pictures. He also believes we can all draw.

You are a techie or not, you have the greatest idea that does this, and that. and is beautiful, and elegant. You start building the idea, but there is little insignificant problem. Who needs it? You don't want to build the wrong stuff.

You start building without meeting and discovering the people who will pull out wallets and pay you with pleasure and easily. Each day you do nothing, the risk of building the wrong stuff increases more and more

You need to assume , via an hypothesis. Who the right audience will be. You assign some metric and then you experiment


You need a strategy to bring the risk down over time. You ask, get answers, infer what to improve until you give people what they want. Now what they want is not what they tell you. You must use your expanded consciousness, in plain words, to read them beyond the words they say.
This is a four square to describe facts and demographics, behavior and personal goals (yes personal, not company goals or slogans or platitude). If the personal goal is to get married and have children, write it down. Things like "I want to contribute to the success of my company" is corporate babble.

Now the Figure 4 is nothing but the dry product of our imagination. This is when we go out of the building, and  have conversations where we embed these and other questions, without  being conspicuous
  • What challenges you
  • How do you cope today
  • How do keep track of your lateral thoughts
  • What question I should have asked and I didn't
The whole process described above is disarmingly simple. Yet, I am amazed on how few people were doing this. One of the reasons large companies make even more mistakes, is because they can afford them and because they are not humble. And when one is not humble, the spirit of prophecy is gone.
Everyone in the room wanted to become or continue as an entrepreneur, Not everyone has the risk tolerance for it. Like swimming, one must start by falling in the water. You either swim or else.

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