Category Archives: Bootstrapping "The Four Steps to Epiphany"

Online Problem Presentation

I made a form for customer development with Google Docs. Ok this not a First Customer Contact, but maybe it will help although.

If you are interested in the state of Linux on laptops you should fill in this form.

Your thoughts on Linux on laptops…


Bootstrapping “The Four Steps to Epiphany” suspended

The Bootstrapping “The Four Steps to Epiphany” series is suspended for a while.

That is because I was working on a small business plan to get some support money. So it is not bootstrapping any more.

In the next week I will come back to Bootstrapping “The Four Steps to Epiphany”. With financial support or not.

#2 First Customer Contact

Only a brief post.

Today I made my second First Customer Contact.

I got some new insights, the person I met was totally different from the first.
He was much more introverted than the last one. On the other side he was a great programmer
and technically very advanced.

Maybe one day he could be a partner or something.

His greatest problem with Linux (He uses Debian) is that upgrades don’t run smoothly all the time.

Oh yes, I still talk to much about my idea and listen not enough. Puh, listening is harder than you think 🙂

#1 First Customer Contact

This weekend I had my “First Friendly Contact”. Surprisingly the conversation didn’t take about 20 minutes, it took about one hour and a half.
This was a quite interesting experience for me, facing people and not telling them about your idea. Instead you try to get their ideas and thoughts on the topic.
This is a quite difficult task. I often switched back to telling and justifying mode, where I was justifying my idea. The ultimate goal in customer talks is listening, this is harder than you think.

What went well

  • It was easy to get the potential customer telling about the problems.
  • I learned some new insights about customer problems and feelings.
  • I was easier than expected to get the customer telling his insights on the topic.

What went not so well

  • I did not listen enough.
  • I was arguing to much, how good my idea would be.

What I learned

  • Listen, listen, listen! It’s harder than you think.
  • Programmers and Geeks need to earn money with their software, too.
  • Distribution channels in the free software world can be improved.
  • A lot software projects lack good centralized documentation.

This was my first official Customer Development conversation.

FrOSCON 2009: Expanding Market Knowledge

Last weekend I was at FrOSCon in St. Augustin, Germany.

The FrOSCon is one of the three greatest open-source conferences in Germany. I thought this should be a good place to meet influencers and learn about the open-source market in general.

I got to know Dries Buytert the project lead of Drupal CMS. He held a very interesting key note about growing a (oss) community. Dries is a very nice guy, he finds a good balance between being a geek and being a great communicator. Dries is an entrepreneur also, he founded Aquia, a Drupal based startup, that wants to be to Drupal what Redhat is to Linux. I have no doubt that Dries will succeed with his company.

Dries Buytaert FrOSCON Key Note
Dries preparing his key note (shot from my Nokia N810)

I learned a lot about the my customers, that they:

  • have the problem I assume.
  • are a strong Tribe, that has clear symbols and guidelines that they live by.
  • have the same needs and desires that most people do.
  • are mostly men. Connect that to the bullet before.

Besides that I got to know a bunch of people that work in neighbor markets that could be helpful in the future.

At the end the FROSCON was a very interesting event for me, that was fun, too.

Making the First Friendly Contacts

Now my job is to get contacts to people that could be my assumed customer. To learn more about their lifes, needs and feelings.

The List

The List is how I call the 50 contacts you want to meet in person.
At the moment The List has 9 entries. But now I am a bit lost to find more people to put their names on The List. I hope to get more names for The List after meeting with a few guys that are already on The List.
If I am lucky, somebody will eventually join me and my business idea, what would be of great help. At the moment I find it very hard to go on my own.

Return Rate

I tried to contact four guys on The List and three agreed to meet.
We will meet in a bar in my hometown Wiesbaden, Germany.

Kurhaus Wiesbaden Germany
Kurhaus Wiesbaden, Germany. Photo: marfis75

I chose a casual place (No, not that one in the picture!) to reduce tension, that people don’t hold back with their oppinion and to save some money :).

I will try to present them my problem and my product hypothesis and then step back. I assume that it is key to let them tell me their opinion and their feelings about the problem and my solution.

I will write about my experience from the First Friendly Contacts in a later post.