The Customer Development Model

I first came across to Eric Ries’s excellent StartupLessonsLearned blog when I wrote about fear slowing execution last week, and then on Thursday Jussi Laakkonen of Finish startup Everyplay was enthusing about Eric’s model of putting the customer at the centre of the development process, so I went back and took another look at Eric’s blog this evening, and found this presentation on the subject.

The key point is on slide 2 – which is that “More startups Fail from a Lack of Customers than from a Failure of Product Development” – ergo get something in their hands as soon as possible and start building their feedback into the product.  Eric’s belief is that this is very difficult with traditional waterfall and even agile developmennt methodologies.

  • MatthewWarneford

    Nic, you've probably already seen it, but if not check out Steves book Four Steps to the Epiphany:

    Great book. No-one would set out to build a product without a “product development methodology” – its too risky! Yet acquiring customers is still a bit 'black magic' (not the terrible chocolates!). Steve describes a process for customer development (figuring out what customers want). So, while I don't want to sound too evangelistic… I really think anyone involved in startups should check this book out! As a guy who loves processes, its great to have structure around the problem of product market fit! I believe this book was requred reading at IMVU.

    Its the GOF ( for customers.

    Check out Steves blog ( too.


  • mjpolanco

    Nic, as you are in Britain you are likely familiar with StrategyN's Outcome-driven model, which is clearer than custmomer development in placing the “job” that the customer is hiring the product/service to do at the center of the analysis. In customer development, the Day-in-the-Life (before & after) captures the importance of the customer's workflow, but StrategyN really digs deep here.

  • afternoon

    I came across this presentation a while ago, but rereading it really drives home the insight. That last slide is like a one-inch punch of knowledge for startups. Minimizing time through the loop is absolutely key, failing (or succeeding) fast and chalking up experience.

  • Great slide deck. I like the line on slide 24 – “only you can put your company out of business”.

  • Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

    Gof Putting

  • Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

    Gof Putting