Meeting Your Customers Where They Are

July 20, 2022

We recently started hosting General Partner Office Hours at Renew as a way of providing value to founders while we’re still raising the fund. These conversations have been amazing and not gonna lie, I’m a bit jealous that I didn’t have this opportunity earlier on my founder journey.

We recently started hosting General Partner Office Hours at Renew as a way of providing value to founders while we’re still raising the fund. These conversations have been amazing and not gonna lie, I’m a bit jealous that I didn’t have this opportunity earlier on my founder journey.

You remember the Dear Abby column? Well these recaps are somewhat like that, but make it tech. Founders walk into Office Hours, we have amazing conversations, and I almost always walk always feeling like “damn, I’m sure someone else could use that information too.” So since one-on-one sessions don’t scale, this is my attempt to reach the masses.

Disclaimer: these recaps are purposely scrubbed for details so that only the founder would realize it’s about their session. If you see yours, feel free to say hey! Additionally, my thoughts are “take what resonates and leave the rest” in nature. Only the founder themselves know the mission they’ve been charged with and how to bring it to fruition. I’m just here as a sounding board, not an Oracle.

Ok. Let’s hop into the meat and potatoes of it all.

Session Topic: go to market (GTM) strategy using a minimum viable product (MVP) approach. TL;DR - the founder walked in with a “how do we implement Z” and I walked them back to “let’s start with A.”

My sessions are only 15 minutes, but we covered the company’s market research and roadmap before diving into GTM strategy. This founder had a deep, empathetic understanding of their target user (✅) and wanted to address all of their pain points in one swoop (❎). “Build it and they will come” only works for those with the resources to pay their way through iterations. For the rest of us, we have to start small and think strategically.

So after gathering information (because how can you give advice without seeking understanding first?), I offered my thoughts.

User Adoption 👩🏾‍🦱 : their users are already deeply married to the tools they use currently. Realistically, this company doesn’t have enough brand equity to convince their target users to move them from where they are to their platform so building something custom may not be the best use of resources right now.

My suggestion: go where they are. Start with a plug-in or an integration with their current tools so that you can start building brand equity while also gathering quantitative data. Then you can use the results of that MVP to determine next steps.

Building with Data 🔢 : while having a deep and empathetic understanding of your target user is great, building with data is even better.

My suggestion: leverage the plug-in/integration to validate your assumptions when it comes to the web application you want to build. Are your users responding as you predicted? Are you noticing new behavior? All of these learnings should inform your product roadmap.

Fundraising 💸 : you don’t (always) need a full fledge product to fundraise. You need positive proof points that support your need to continue to build the product (at least in ideal conditions, but I digress). That’s what pre-seed is for so don’t feel like you have to skip steps. It takes time to build and validate your assumptions before you hit true product-market fit. Take the time.

Fellow founders: would love to hear your thoughts and if any of this resonated with you, great. You’re not alone, this is at least the 1,000th time I’ve had this conversation. If this was helpful, look out for #GPOHRecaps in the future.

Fellow investors: what did I miss or where do you disagree? Always open to hearing different perspectives.

Until next time 💫