Startups Need to Cross-10 Out of the Gate

PandoDaily has a new post up today titled Seven dirty, gritty, real startup lessons that cost me $2 million by entrepreneur Pablo Fuentes where he offers some solid advice. My favorite of the seven ideas is that of Cross-10. Cross-10 is pretty straightforward: manually deliver the value of your product to 10 different customers by hand. For example, if you want to build software to do text message marketing for small businesses, get 10 small businesses to pay you to do a campaign manually on their behalf before you jump in and start building a product. As Steve Blank likes to say, get out of the building.

Here are a few ideas around the benefits of Cross-10:

  • Getting a prospect to pay to money is incredibly hard, so doing it before product development helps improve the likelihood of success
  • It’s never too early to solicit input from potential customers
  • Most entrepreneurs build a product in a vacuum and fail (see my failure with eCrowds)
  • Sales and marketing is often more difficult and expensive than engineering, so start with the toughest thing first

The goal of Cross-10 is to find out if the dogs will eat the dogfood before you’ve invested significant time and energy in a product. When you’re going to jump in and start your next venture, do Cross-10 right out of the gate.

What else? What are your thoughts on startups doing Cross-10 as their first task?

3 thoughts on “Startups Need to Cross-10 Out of the Gate

  1. It’s a good point. Do you disregard profits initially and just find out if people will pay for it at all? It could cost a lot to build an initial prototype that the first ten may not make a dent in. I’m thinking of monthly saas model, in particular.

  2. Best post yet David. Coincidentally just had a conversation with another successful start-up guy, Mike Marian, this week and honed in on just how likely you are to fail because you forget to sell or you can’t sell. Building technology you think is great; in your bubble, in a building in a bubble and with other people doing the same, is a recipe for disaster.

    Building technology is much simpler today. Apps are built in days (including QA) and “suites” are built in months.

    Here is the reality……like it or not…. sales solve most problems. Whether it is raising capital or getting the product guys to work better with the sales guys.Focus on sales! If you are not a natural salesperson, find one!

    btw…. that works both ways. Sales folks need a good technologist otherwise you wont deliver what you sell and then you are screwed!

  3. Very true. People tend to think they can just build a product before talking to anyone only to realize that they just wasted tons of time building something to no one.

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