I have witnessed investors are great at listening to pitches for the next best thing in order to snap up an investment offer. Investors are worried about two things:
- A) will this make money (with little effort from me)?
- B) will this increase my success stats?
Feedback from Investors
Investors are very experienced but won’t necessarily give feedback like the Dragons Den or Shark Tank.
Feedback from a Startup Mentor (board members)
Me experience with mentors is they are like investors but only give advice in what they know. In my case feedback was all negative (possibly quote rightly), I do not want to see what you have done, I am not interested in you chasing “small profit, large turnover” and you should stop what you are doing, and chase after large profit, small turnover goals. Think capital cities and not regions.
If you are after money only they talk to an investor or startup mentor.
Before you ask for or listen to feedback, are you developing a small product or a product and a startup, as the feedback you will receive will be quite different? A smaller product may need feedback from customers but a start-up idea will need more thorough checks and idea validations.
I’d recommend you read this page on How To Start a Startup – Infographic if you want to create a startup.
Feedback for a smaller idea
As a developer, you may want to get external feedback on your work, ideas or project. All feedback is good, right? This is what I have learned (so far).
The best feedback you can get is before development starts by talking to potential customers and end users during alpha and beta testing.
- Feedback can give you a fresh perspective and make you think.
- Feedback can save you money.
- Feedback can be free.
- Don’t be disheartened when you hear negative feedback. All advice is good advice and it is up to you to contextualise and prioritise the feedback into tasks or actions.
- People will tell you this has already been done already (after a quick Google but on detailed inspection this may not be the case).
- Negative feedback can seed doubts.
Do or Don’t
Google is used by many for finding medical advice and it can also be used for finding out if a product or services exist already. But Google may turn you away from doing something. GoogleWhacking is a game where you try and find one search result with only two keywords entered into Google.
I have skipped countless cloud providers but I chose one based on what was important to me (value, performance, and ease of use). Product ideas are similar, it’s all in the execution and iterations.
Remember there was a social media platform called GeoCities before MySpace, did that stop Facebook? Social media, products, and services will come and go (remember Kodak and Blockbuster).
If in doubt find a good mentor.
I like Backblaze post on getting your first 1,000 customers.
Validate your ideas with customers and prioritize paying customers to feedback over free feedback. Providing polls asking what the future features should be is a good idea once you have 100 customers or more.
If you are developing an idea be prepared to pitch your idea as the project grows. Pitches will succeed if you tick the listener’s boxes and don’t be concerned if pitches end in silence.
Ignoring Negative advice
People who give negative feedback may not know all of the details and will certainly forget the giving feedback hours later so don’t take negative feedback to heart.
I’d certainly listen to advice when it comes to money though.
People usually give feedback on what they know so don’t be too concerned if feedback is not what you expect.
Investors hate products that exist or may partially exist so do your research and explain how your solution solves existing problems or is better.
Do competitor or product checks and validate those problems beforehand.
Ensure you are delivering what people want (and the solution does not exist already).
Monetization is not everything
It is a common joke that “Investors make money, idea owners pay tax (and wages)”.
Rob Stitch (comedian) commented on the radio recently about the awesome Clarke and Dawes comedy sketch about a public bath that was questioned for not making money, the comedic punchline was “bad news for footpaths.”
Some things are more important than the costs if the need is high enough. But don’t burn a heap of money on silly ideas, aim small and scale up and iterate in public, get your feet wet early and iterate in public.
That’s easy for me to say but I would rather create stuff in my free time instead of burning money and time on other hobbies.
Be wary of people who only want to be involved in big money projects, want slices of your idea or be paid advisors. What motivates you may not motivate them.
How to get the feedback you need
Avoid people that do not listen and go into Yoda/advice mode before getting all the facts (especially if they were paid for giving advice).
How to use feedback you receive
Do prioritise advice from potential customers over all others. Atlassian blog gives tips using Jira to input feedback from customers in an agile project.
Park all feedback into a project task tracking software package like Trello or Jira (see my guide here). Ensure advice (and solutions) align with the initial problems and value. Additional advice may assist obtaining VC capital or entering the startup building cycle but not help your initial customers problems. Feedback about higher monetization strategies may sound good to an Investor but would not help smaller customers with planned ideas.
Additional advice may assist obtaining VC capital or entering the startup investor attracting cycle but not help your initial customers problems. Feedback about bigger monetization plans may sound good to an Investor but would not help existing customers with planned ideas.
Talk to the right people
- Talk to an investor if you need cash.
- Talk to an end user if you need feedback related to your product.
- Talk to a developer if you need developer related advice.
You will receive feedback about things those people know.
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