CHAPTER 4:Customer Validation

Along the journey we commonly forget its goal.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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WHEN I MET CHIP STEVENS IN 2002, he thought his startup, InLook, was on the road to success. Twenty months earlier, he had raised $8 million to build a new class of enterprise software for Fortune 1000 companies. Chip's product, Snapshot, would allow the chief financial officers of major corporations to manage profitability before the quarter closed. Snapshot measured every deal in a company's sales pipeline and compared the deals to top-and bottom-line corporate financial objectives. The software was able to forecast margin, revenue, and product mix, and allow a company to allocate resources before a deal closed. This meant sales cycles could be shorter, fewer deals needed to be escalated to senior management, and management could allocate resources to the best deals in the pipeline. While Snapshot could save a company substantial dollars in the long term, it was expensive, costing $250,000 or more.

Chip had raised his money in a tough economic climate, and while the economy still hadn't recovered, he was relatively happy with the state of his company. Product Development, after being seriously broken for the first year, was back on track. Chip had to personally take over engineering management for a while, but since his background included a stint as a VP and general manager, ...

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