Listen to Customers

Truong, articles

During customer development, a start-up searches for a business model that works. If customer feedback reveals that its business hypotheses are wrong, it either revises them or “pivots” to new hypotheses. Once a model is proven, the start-up starts executing, building a formal organization. Each stage of customer development is iterative: A start-up will probably fail several times before finding the right approach.


  1. Founders translate company ideas into business model hypotheses, test assumptions about customers’ needs, and then create a “minimum viable product” to try out their proposed solution on customers.

  2. Start-up continues to test all other hypotheses and tries to validate customers’ interest through early orders or product usage. If there’s no interest, the start-up can “pivot” by changing one or more hypotheses.

  3. The product is refined enough to sell. Using its proven hypotheses, the start-up builds demand by rapidly ramping up marketing and sales spending, and scales up the business.

  4. Business transitions from start-up mode, with a customer development team searching for answers, to functional departments executing its model.


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