Chapter 3. Knowing Your Market

Your mentors, True Believers, early adopters, and the broader hardware-founder community will all provide invaluable feedback in the early stages of idea validation for your product. However, since your goal is to build a profitable company, one group of people is clearly the most important: the customers. They’re the people who will give you dollars. You can’t have an individual relationship with all of them, unlike the groups discussed in Chapter 2. However, you must know everything you can about them—who they are, what they need, what drives them, how much they’re willing to spend—so it’s extremely important to have conversations with them early in the product development process.

The time to identify and talk to potential customers is long before you’re thinking about moving toward manufacturing. The lessons you learn from these discussions will shape the product. They’ll also be extremely important for branding and marketing strategies, setting a price point, and identifying the distribution channels that are right for your company.

In the preprototype stage of customer development, the primary question you’re trying to answer is, “Who is likely to buy my product?” You can’t be all things to all people, so it’s important to identify the type of customer who is most likely to spend money on the first version of your widget. You’ll revise your offering for mass mainstream adoption somewhere down the line.

The Who, What, and Why of Your Product ...

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