How do you know the interests of customers before launching a startup?

  1. Talk to everyone. Everyone. People at the coffee shop. People with whom you work (you are working while you start, yes?), your grandmother, people on Facebook… talk to everyone and get their opinion.
  2. Avoid confirmation bias. Friends, family, and anyone who thinks it’s a decent idea, will affirm you and encourage it. That doesn’t mean it’s actually a good idea.
  3. Do a competitive analysis: one of the primary ways that we study the market. A competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited. The worst thing you could be is one of those founders or entrepreneurs who says, “we don’t have any competitors.”

What causes you to fail? Aside from the many many things listed above? Simply: competitors who do what you are doing cheaper, better, or faster.

So why on earth would you start ANYTHING or invest in building ANYTHING if you haven’t yet determined that you won’t fail because of competitors??

(customers at this stage can’t tell you squat)

What you’re usually looking into is 7 things:

  1. What they offer and how (the product or service)
  2. Where they provide it and why there (distribution)
  3. How the monetize it and the model for that (pricing)
  4. What kind of capital and partners are they working with (resources)
  5. Who is on the team (people)
  6. How do they promote it and why that way (promotion)
  7. What sort of advertising are they doing (advertising)

(if you’re not sure why/how marketing, distribution, promotion, and advertising are different things, that’s a conversation for another time; trust me, they are).

Your goal?

To NOT fail by NOT doing what they’re doing well and by finding the competitive advantage you could develop by being better at that than they are.