Success in Startup Means Listening To Your Customers

Customers will tell you what don’t want to hear — if you’re lucky

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The customer isn’t always right, but rest assured they will tell you what’s wrong.

And that’s a crazy valuable opportunity waiting to happen.

I was reminded of this again last week when I sent out the new Teaching Startup web app for beta testing to a handpicked group of top entrepreneurs.

A little backstory: Teaching Startup has been a newsletter product that has worked extraordinarily well for over six months now — increased adoption, increased engagement, growing revenue. It’s an advice product via newsletter, so it lacked a central repository. Thus, the web app is an effort to take the product position from “answers-in-your-inbox” to “answers-on-demand.”

The beta was, in my mind, perfect. It was one small functional step that opened up an entirely new paradigm — completely useful, low friction, and a little ugly.

Then the feedback came in.

I won’t go so far as to say it was overwhelming. In fact, if anything, it was overwhelmingly positive. However, the suggestions all pointed to one small tweak I needed to make. The next version, which is going out to early access for all members this week, will be slightly different in UI, but very different in UX.

What I had done was built an app that was most useful for me, the proprietor, and not them, the customer. You actually see this all the time out there, from new companies and old companies alike. It’s even hard to recognize sometimes. It’s not a matter of “this product sucks,” it’s more a matter of “this product is pretty good, but it feels like I’m jumping through hoops for this to be effective for me.”

It’s such a small tweak, philosophically speaking. I had built the app to answer the question, “How do I get them what they need as quickly and efficiently as possible?” The proper thing to do is put myself in the shoes of the customer, and ask: “How do I get what I need as quickly and efficiently as possible?”

Yeah, those two questions sound almost alike. But that one small difference is actually glaring. The ripples ended up not changing the functionality, but how the user experienced it, from the very beginning to the end.

Apply those two questions to your own product and the machine that delivers it. You might be surprised by the difference in answers.

Are you serving the student? Or the teacher? The customer? Or your company?

If you join Teaching Startup now, you’ll be in the window for when that early access to the app arrives. Use invite code ACCESS and you’ll get a free trial plus half off your first paid month. Teaching Startup is answers for entrepreneurs at all levels, meant to be useful and affordable at $10 a month.

Written by

I’m a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. Building Precision Fermentation & Teaching Startup. Sold Automated Insights & ExitEvent. More at

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