Startups Need to Figure Out How to Compress Time

Startups need to figure out how to compress time. Compressing time doesn’t mean doing things half way but rather testing assumptions and getting feedback from people in as short a period of time as possible. I was talking to an entrepreneur a few days ago and he described compressing time as talking to as many relevant people in quick succession to validate that the idea should, or should not, be pursued.

Here are some ideas to compress time:

  • Call 100 potential customers in one day and get their thoughts on the idea (10 calls per hour times 10 hours of work is 100 calls)
  • Talk to 10 angel investors with at least 10 deals under their belt to find out their thoughts
  • Reach out to 20 active entrepreneurs and ask for 15 minutes of their time for insights

Startups need to figure out how to compress time to focus in on something that has a high likelihood of succeeding. Too often, startups start working on a product, but don’t spend enough time getting feedback from potential prospects and other people with relevant experience.

What else? What are some other ways startups can compress time?

3 thoughts on “Startups Need to Figure Out How to Compress Time

  1. Will talking to relevant people provide the information needed? Meaning, without someone paying for a service, how believable or trustworthy is their response? I’ve heard that in the United States, there exists a 2X multiplier of people who, in primary market research, will indicate interest, but ultimately, will not purchase a product. In other countries, the ratio is the opposite. In Germany or Japan (cannot recall which), it is a 0.5 ratio, meaning that more people will buy the service or product than state they will.

    Without a prototype that can be sold, talking with potential users is by far the best proxy that exists. But what about if you are pre-product/market fit, and are unsure exactly who will use your product? Should you pick a segment and put your hopes on the possible response from that segment? That path involves a deal of risk. Personally, I like to cast a wide net and to try to generate as much interest as possible initially (for a b2c-type product/service), and then let the chips fall where they may.

    B2B startups do not have this luxury, and the time compression strategies advocated by Cummings above, similar to pioneering work done at MIT on the language processing method (http://www.isixsigma.com/tools-templates/affinity-diagramkj-analysis/effective-use-special-purpose-kj-language-processing/), seem like the best way to determine how to convert customer feedback into actionable data.

  2. great post David – i think one of the most important elements of what you ascribe is the RELEVANT experience part; from what I’ve seen far too often entrepreneurs (being the ego-driven, hungry for approval, cowboys and cowgirls that we are) accept all validation equally. The truth is that in the startup race, there is such a thing as bad validation. Getting the nod from sources of perceived influence (but without the relevant experience) can drive entrepreneurs to look at new products/iterations and hold on to those ideas too tightly, or release them too quickly. When this happens, entrepreneurs think they are saving time, but in the long-run its actually costing them dearly.

    So while in general, our MVP-driven culture tells us to be agile and quick on our feet with new adopting and then amending ideas/products, entrepreneurs may face a situation where the fastest method is necessarily the most thorough method.

    reblogged on http://problemsolvingsamurai.com

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