Val Sopi

Founder and Chief Product Artisan
Handmade Spaceships, Inc.


The Customer is Not Always Right

August 19, 2015

One of the traditional ways of starting a business, especially in the Saas ecosystem, is to “get out of the building” and speak to customers as you’re validating your idea. Sort of the lean methodology of startup building. These methods could help you initially about what you should build and is your product something that potential customers will actually pay for.

However, the reality is much messier than these specific steps, because of the many intricacies that go into building a product that will sell. There’s really no blueprint in building a Saas product/startup. The academia and consultants will tell you otherwise, however once you actually start, you’ll find many awesome surprises along the way.

Stories are numerous about how someone started out by interviewing 100+ people, gathered valuable data, got verbal/written promises that these people would pay for the product once live, built the actual product, just to find out that 2 of them actually paid for it and canceled within the first month.

One of the reasons this happens is because the customer quite often will “think” that they need a certain feature/function, but will never actually use it. This is partly because, the way some of the customer development interviews are conducted, they may lead the customer in a narrow path that serves the creator’s thesis, but doesn’t translate in usability and need.

Also, the customer may not know what would be useful to them, until you actually present the solution and witness how it’s being used.

Innovating is our job and should be based on our learning, historical data, and calculated risk.

Getting out of the building and speaking to clients is an easy way to keep yourself busy, while you could be building and testing various ideas much quicker and getting instant feedback about what works.

The customer is not always right, their actions are.

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