Supercharging startup validation
When developing a new product, continual customer feedback is key for staying on track. Unless you’re blessed with a giant network, your sources of feedback are likely to dry up eventually. At Intrinsik, we combine several automation tools (We-Connect, Hubspot, Calendly, and others) to ramp up our product validation processes.
During a recent talk at the Founder Institute in Hong Kong, students were focusing on “idea validation”. In short, they were trying to confirm that potential customers would like (and preferably need) their product. So far the students had asked peers in their respective industries; family and friends for their opinions. The challenges they faced were two fold. Firstly, the quality of the feedback (many people don’t want a hurt friends feelings). Secondly, the limited number of relevant people they could ask. So the question was, what to do next?
Obviously, deep and strong relations are invaluable to validating your product. Some of Intrinsik’s most valuable advisors have been around since day one. That being said, getting fresh input from individuals outside of your circle (“randoms”) is great for two reasons: 1) New perspectives on your platforms (goes without saying); 2) they might not get what you do or even push back. The former is obviously important, but the latter might be more so. It helps you grow thick skin (you’ll need it), learn new ways to sell your platform, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant feedback. Now that we’ve established that new perspectives are valuable, let's get to our outreach flow!
We-Connect.io for Linkedin
Listen, I’m also not a real fan of automated reach out tools. But let's be real, when you pitch to someone for the first time it - sooner or later - becomes a template that you repeat. The art is in the reaction to the initial reactions of your newly found validators. Also, who has time to plow through Linkedin and write 50 custom reach-out messages per day.
In comes We-Connect, this Linkedin tool lets you reach out to specific professionals without pissing off the platform. After writing a script for an initial invite and receiving a response from a contact, you make things personal. I’ve reached out to 2,000 contacts in the last 2 months with clear analytics to improve my outreach wording.
Nurturing and connecting
After a brief chat through We-Connect I try to move towards a 15 minute introduction call or email. My newly acquired validators are busy people and I’m a random guy asking for that valuable time. In that light, I try to optimize the journey towards the aforesaid goals.
After clearly sharing that I want to be respectful of their time, I either:
Share a link to my call/meeting scheduler (Calendly, Mixmax, etc.)
Confirm that I can email them at the address in their contact Linkedin info
It’s always preferable to meet people in person as it shows a higher level of investment from both parties, but you gotta take what you can get. While Intrinsik is in quite a niche market (bespoke medical devices) in a small market (Hong Kong), I managed to setup 4-10 meetings on a weekly basis. You can do it too!
Pen is mightier than the nothing
When your new validators push back on a call / meeting, it's time for the second best option, email. After having confirmed their email address and interest in receiving more information, I add them in Hubspot. From here we email them a lightly customized template with basic company information and a presentation. Depending on the reaction, we get increasingly personal in an effort to get their thoughts on our (new) ideas.