Over the course of two days, nine teams of around five members each worked on turning a set of customer problems into concrete product concepts, which they then presented to a jury. The weekend was broken up into four modules, which included customer development, customer validation using FB ads, prototyping and presenting the concepts.
At Toughbyte, we are in the business of building software. So, why do we want to be involved in customer development, UX, validation and prototyping? And why are we co-organizing events such as the Product Weekend and coaching at Startup Sauna, Industryhack and Junction?
We want to build long term relationships with our clients and in order to do that, the projects we work on must be successful. As much as we would like to think otherwise, success does not depend only on how well the product is implemented. Rather, what matters is whether it is solving the right problems for its end users.
Customer development is the way to ensure that it does. However, it is not simply the practice of talking to your customers, as many assume. It is a methodology centered on testing hypotheses using customer interviews: the problem interview and the solution interview, which relies on demoing a prototype. As such, in order to do it well, one needs to learn the process and have experience applying it in practice.
That being said, it is not something that should be left to a few experts. The more people on the team are involved in customer development and understand its importance, the better. It is also something that you should be doing an ongoing basis, for each new problem and feature set — not just at the beginning of the project.
Last but not least, as we saw during the Product Weekend, customer development and prototyping is fun! So, not only is it extremely useful, it’s something one can genuinely enjoy learning.