A huge part – ok the only part – of customer discover is getting objective, honest, unfiltered feedback from your prospective customers, clients, and users. That goes in the realm of “you had one job”. The only immediate required result of customer discovery is feedback. Without feedback, you can talk yourself into anything, build completely wrong products, and think you have winner when all you have is another (wrong) idea. The entire premise of customer discover is to find out what to build before you spend a dime building it.
Same thing applies every week at Pitch Practice: we’re there to practice, and if you stink at delivering a line or explaining your startup, don’t you want someone to tell you the truth? Say “yes”, because you do. You really do.
End rant. You (should) already know this. So why am I beating this dead horse? Because I have one simple point, which was inspired by this post from The Iron Yard’s Kate McCarthy. That point is this: you need investor feedback, too.
Far too often, as Kate points out, applying to accelerators – or incubators or investors of any kind – sucks. Why? For that answer, read her post. I think it’s dead on: feedback. Applying, pitching, pitching, applying, soliciting…it’s very hard and very time consuming for both the entrepreneur and the investor. The one thing that, over time, could improve the entire process is what Kate brings to the surface: feedback.
So, I ask this of all investors big and small, because I have seen it far, far to seldom: tell the startup entrepreneurs why you did or did not invest, and be specific. Yes, you may have your press release talking points on “Why we love blah blah yada yada startup”, but in private, tell the team very, very specifically why you stroked that check and what 1, 2, or 3 things you think are big, huge, gnarly problems waiting to happen.
And for those you turned down, please tell them why, so they can fix it. If you don’t, you’re doing a huge disservice to the entire startup community.
Now, to all you startups, don’t leave the table until you get feedback from potential investors. If they are doing their job, they’re going to kick the crap out of you learning who you are and what you’re about, so politely but firmly get the feedback you need to move forward intelligently.