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“It’s amazing the insights you learn when you talk to, listen and observe customers”


Most products fail from a lack of customers and NOT from Product Development.

Customer Development is a four-step framework developed by serial entrepreneur and business school professor Steve Blank. This framework is for discovering and validating the right market for your idea, building the right product features that solve customers’ needs, testing the correct model and tactics for acquiring and converting customers, and deploying the right organization and resources to scale the business.

Customer Development is about questioning your core business assumptions. Rather than assume your beliefs about your business to be true, you should apply a scientific method to building a business, in order to validate the ideas.

The advantages of implementing the framework are that you don’t spend loads of money discovering what works. But rather save the money for executing and scaling what you have already shown to work. An organisation applies a learning process, rather than merely executing what you assume to be the right business model.

If implemented properly, Customer Development helps a business become highly focused, capital and resource efficient, and while not a guaranteed success, more likely to find Product-Market Fit and market traction.

How we do it?
The process is used to discover, test and validate your business assumptions.  It is a systematic way to get to know your customers intimately – understand their needs, pain points, challenges, priorities, decisions, and motivations.  This time-tested process overlaps the product development lifecycle, to ensure that your product does not end up as a product that no customers wanted.

Customer Discovery
A specific product solves a known problem for an identifiable group of users

Customer Validation
The market is scalable and large enough that a viable business can be built

Company Creation
The business is scalable through a repeatable sales and marketing roadmap

Company Building
The company transitions from informal to formal departments

It is an effective process whether you are a corporate looking at expanding your market or an early stage company looking to validate ideas. You can apply the process to more successfully launch your products and services into new, existing, or re-defined markets.

Mary Cronin
Author: Mary Cronin
March 9, 2017
Mary is an innovation specialist, systems thinker and circular economy facilitator. As the founder of UpThink Innovation Agency, Mary works with SMEs and large organisations as a circular economy/climate change/ESG consultant.