I like to structure my “Problem Presentation” like this:
1. State the top 3 problems 2. Ask customer to prioritize problems and identify any higher priority problems 3. Have customer describe how they solve the problem today 4. Very briefly describe how you might solve the problem 5. Ask Customer whether your approach would solve their problem 6. Would they use your solution if it were free? 7. Would they pay $X/yr? 8. Ask for referrals to other customers
The list below includes some of these folks I know personally, some just by reputation- but collectively they’ve grown products up to millions, 10s of millions, and in some cases, 100M+ users.
Typically they use quantitatively-oriented techniques centered on virality across different channels such as iOS, Facebook, email, etc. There’s lots of iteration, A/B testing, and experimentation involved. There’s also really great growth hackers centered around SEO, SEM/ad arb, and other techniques, but for the most part I’m just listing out the folks around quant-based virality. The important thing about virality is, it’s free So it’s an important skill for startups.
Last week one of the schools I teach at invited me to judge a business plan contest. I suggested that they first might want to read my post on why business plans are a poor planning and execution tool for startups. They called back laughing and the invitation disappeared.
At best I think business plan competitions are a waste of time. But until now I haven’t been able to articulate a framework of why or had a concrete suggestion of what to replace them with.