This article is part of a series of articles, as an example how to use Customer Development in practice. If you didn’t read the introduction, please read it first.

Before you start Customer Development there are 2 checklists to fill. The checklists are based on Customer Development from Steve Blank.


Below I filled the checklists for the example project. It is market with [Co-founders wanted:] explanation…

Checklist 1: Board and management Buy-in
Goal: Agreement among investors, founders and team commitment to the Customer Development Process

Reference: Manifesto Rule nr 14

  • Commit to use of Business Model and Market Type [Co-founders wanted:] Only one founder. Founder is committed.
  • Understand the difference between “search” for a business model and “execute” a business plan [Co-founders wanted:] Founder is familiar with the book Customer Development so he understands the difference.
  • Learn differences between Product Development and Customer Development [Co-founders wanted:] Founder is familiar with the book Customer Development so he understands the difference.
  • Discuss number of “funded Pivots” available and how board and team will measure the progress. [Co-founders wanted:] Founder is familiar with the book Customer Development so he understands the difference.

Customer Development process emphasizes learning and discovery

  • Is there board and founding team buy-in process? [Co-founders wanted:] Yes, founding team is only one person.
  • Is there is enough funding for 2 to 3 pivots in Discovery and Validation? [Co-founders wanted:] There is no extra funding. Founder doesn’t need income from Pivots. Small investments are covered.

Discuss Market Type (initial decision)

  • Existing, Re-segmented, New or Clone? [Co-founders wanted:] Re-segment
  • First pass with board on initial agreement of Market Type  [Co-founders wanted:] Only Re-segment, focus is shorter Learning Cycles
  • First pass with board on different funding needs by Market Type [Co-founders wanted:] Re-segment, funding in future depends on Co-founders. Target is that no extra funding is needed.

Agree on Customer Development Time Frame

  • Approximate time for Discovery and Validation (cash)  [Co-founders wanted:] Significant income is needed within 5 months. It is short but possible.
  • Discovery exit criteria determined  [Co-founders wanted:] Exit after 4 months, when no co-founded (is client in this case) is found.
  • Validation exit criteria determined  [Co-founders wanted:] Validation is 1 client after 4 months.

Exit criteria

  • Buy-in of the team and board for Customer Development process  [Co-founders wanted:] done
  • Market Type and exit criteria for search step  [Co-founders wanted:] defined (see previous step)

Checklist 2: The Customer Development Team

Goal: Set up the Customer Development Team

Reference: Manifesto Rule #1

Review the organizational differences between Customer Development and the traditional product introduction process:

  • Founders spend time outside the building   [Co-founders wanted:] clear
  • No VP of Sales or Marketing   [Co-founders wanted:] no way
  • Initial Team responsibilities   [Co-founders wanted:] Founder is doing customer development alone but has technical support.

Team setup and Goals

  • Agree on who leads the team   [Co-founders wanted:] founder is the lead
  • Agree on the “getting out of the building” methodology   [Co-founders wanted:]  agreed
  • Agree on % of customer feedback online vs eyeball   [Co-founders wanted:] 20% eyeball, 40% by phone/skype, 40% online
  • Agree on the team roles for each of the four Customer Development Steps   [Co-founders wanted:] not defined yet

Enumerate 3 to 5 Core Values of the Founding Team

  • Not a mission statement
  • Not about profit or products
  • Core ideology is about what the company believes in

[Co-founders wanted:] Core values:

  • The learning cycles of Customer Development can be shorter and much more efficient then incubators and investors are doing
  • Bootstrapping is the starting point, Co-founders take care about own income and minimal for the costs of first Minimum Viable Product.
  • Customer development is the standard

Exit criteria:

  • Buy-in of the team and board for Customer Development process
  • Are the right people in those jobs?   [Co-founders wanted:] Founder has people that can support him technically.

>>> Go to next part (part 2)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.