Quickly and easily get your solution concepts in front of customers for feedback before you invest capital into building a product.

Ryan Hatch
Head of Product Strategy & Innovation
Andrew Verboncouer
Partner & CEO

Andrew Verboncouer:

With your startup risk builds over time. And one of our core tenants at headway that we believe in reducing risk by running these behavioral experiments with the market and trying to figure out how do we take what customers said they would do and bring that forward and, and understand how we can build a business to support those people.

What's going to get them to actually take it out. So when you do that, you can learn quick and reduced risk, and it's always going to build, you're never going to eliminate all of the risks that you have in your startup or in your business. New factors are always going to enter in different solutions for customers, different competitors in the market space.

In one of the ways you can do that is by using different formats and different types of prototyping to try and take what your customers said, interpret that into some sort of solution or proposed solution that you can bring. And understand where this solution might live in, you know, in their mind. What are the other things like as you've taken all of the feedback and all the insights you've gathered from your primary research and you get a solution in front of them, what are the things that come up.

Oh, it does that thing. Ah, that's not super useful to me, but what about this, right? How do you start to discover and uncover some of those edge cases where you're really identifying unmet needs or things that are really cumbersome or take a lot of time where you can start to elevate your solution and understand those educators?

This is an adaptation of the build measure, learn cycle in the lean startup. We use experiment because we're not always building products. We're creating interviews question series landing pages, prototypes. We might be creating proof of concepts or ultimately a full functioning MVP that delivers end to end.

But we're always looping through this and we're going, and we're saying, what do we need to learn today? And what's the best way for us to learn that? Out of all the different feathers in our cap, all different things in our tool belt, what are the best ways for us to go and learn that from the market?

Is that just a line of questioning where we can, we can go to customers and have a conversation. Is that creating a landing page? Like we talked about where we're actually trying to bring them forward into an offering into a future where we get them to act. Are we trying to go learn exactly what should make or or what shouldn't be in our prototype.

You know, as we think about the first version of a product, where to customers put those things in their mind, and as we move forward into the next steps of behavior and that activation proof of concepts, MVP, but we're always looping through this. We're always trying to reduce our risk.

Prototypes are tools that help you communicate your ideas.

The value you can provide and can help you learn. And that's so important because they help you tell a story and they give you some visuals to really explain your idea, rather than you saying you know, having a big buildup, you can get something in front of somebody a proposed solution, a couple of screen flows an idea that you have that you can show them and really start to get feedback and build more understanding with people rather than just.

What if it does this right. And that's as I mentioned, those edge cases will start to come out as they look at your product and say, oh, this is really cool. What if it did this? Or, Hey, does it solve for this edge case, or I'm really struggling with that. It would be great if it did, why? Right. And you start to go under underneath a lot of the problems you saw before and get to these very specific, a minute problems that you can really define.

And that's going to elevate you. And really show your understanding for the target market and for the customers you're serving better than the competitor. Prototypes, help you tell that story and you something tangible to build, understanding with the customers. You're looking to see. And that's because in any conversation there's always really four conversations that happen.

And there's what you said, there's what you thought you said, there's what they heard and what they thought they heard. And so using something tangible, using something that really aligns your understanding together will help to bridge that gap where you're talking about the same thing you're talking about, solving it the same way.

You're starting to bring it from how might we solve this to what are all the details surrounding this that are going to help us create the the best solution? And you can learn best with prototypes, just like you can the research instead of looking at market trends and looking at secondary research, you go and talk to the actual people you're looking to serve prototypes can help you by getting those same prototypes in front of the users you talked to before.

So in a lot of cases, that's going back to customers. You, you talk to and, and potential customers and prospects you talk to early on. To really dig into the problem and kind of come into this world where you're doing more of a solution interview, and you might do a little bit of a problem and solution interview where you're getting this in front of users when you're prototyping.

Kind of three ways to think about it. And there's, there's definitely edge cases in between, and there's different mix mixes and matches of these, but sketches and wire frames. These are things that you can get out very quickly. These are the things that you can sketch on a piece of paper and try to bring this idea, this vision that you have into something real, something tangible that you can get in front of people and have a conversation around.

The next type is clickable prototypes. These are most often the high fidelity things you see on landing pages. And there are things that you can use to communicate, not just a single idea, but a workflow and how things might work together. The next one is know in low code.

So these are things like even connecting Zapier with Google sheets and a way to kind of concierge your your value to your customer. These are things like Adalo even low code tools that help you design in browser, but then export to code and really prototype really quickly. So we believe in continuously validating the products by answering a series of questions and prototypes come in different phases.

When you're trying to answer those questions, these are tools that you can use to try and give you what you need to to move your startup forward and to really reduce that risk that we talked about. But here, as we look at. Sketches and wire frames early on, they'll help you, you know define your target segment.

They'll, they'll help you understand if people have a specific problem is you're having conversations with them. You're going to be able to get this in front of them and, and get a good feel for how they're going to respond to it. Prototypes can also help you do that, but maybe too high fidelity for people to give you true feedback.

So you might want to focus on. Problem discovery type questions rather than solution questions early on. When you're trying to figure out, am I talking to the right person? Do they have this problem? And that's why most often you're going to want to do some sort of joint interview where you're digging into the problem.

You're building some context for their specific experience, and then you're introducing the solution versus just a solution. So that's something to keep in mind and you see here when you're using prototypes, these clickable prototypes, they can help you understand demand to a certain point. You can use a prototype and we have many times where we're not driving someone from a website, but we're doing it in person.

We're walking them through a prototype. We're trying to get them to buy on the spot. And so if you're doing like a demo you're selling B2B or B2C, you're trying to get commitment on just a prototype. And not just something that's, that's functioning. You can see also here there's this overlap between no code, low code.

So tools like Webflow, Bubble,, things that help you build your website can also help you deliver that value and understand, Hey, will this person give me the right information? Will they fill out their profile when they come back? All of those things you can start to build, but there's a limit in prototyping on what you can do.

No code and low code tools will help you. Extend the life of your prototyping. So if you start with a tool like Bubble or Adalo, you can actually fully deliver the value to your customer. So if you start with those keep that in mind that you want to have to change context. You have to change platforms and you'll be able to continue delivering value and building upon that as you're learning with the market.


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