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?