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The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets by Eric Ries, Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper

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New Products

Problem-Solution Fit

Whether you’re a startup or an existing business, when you’re building new products, what moves the needle is learning whether the product is aligned with the right customers and is solving a real problem. Much of the early data is qualitative.

Set a goal for interviews: “We will talk to 10 customers and validate that they have problem x.”

Identify key learning objectives, for example:

  • Customer belongs to the previously defined market segment x.
  • Customer feels deeply about the problem hypothesis. They experience the problem you think they do.
  • Customer is actively seeking a solution or currently uses an unsatisfactory workaround.

You are looking for a pattern: If two people feel deeply about the problem hypothesis, five respond, “Meh,” and three have no idea what you’re talking about, you need to iterate.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I find more people like the first two?
  • What differentiates the two from the other eight?
  • Can I refine my problem statement?

Go out and observe your segment and interview them again. Iterate until you find a pattern. Hopefully you can see why there’s not much use for developing a product prior to finding such a pattern.

As you uncover the segment that is defined around a shared problem or passion, follow up with solution interviews. Use the same steps.

“We will interview the customers we have identified as early adopters to validate that our solution idea interests them and will work in their environment.” By looking for ...

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