I’ve already learned a lot halfway through Techstars, but the clearest and most obvious is: if you want to test your startup, go have a 100 conversations about it. I don’t mean that abstractly. I mean 100 actual, focused conversations.
Go give your pitch 100 times and see if people get it. See what questions they ask. See what questions you start to ask yourself - as you stop focusing on crafting what you are saying so much that you can actually listen to yourself, and listen to them.
Describe your product to someone who knows nothing about it. Describe it to someone who knows everything about it. Describe it to someone who is a user, knows a user, can’t imagine what it could possibly be used for. Describe your product 100 times.
Describe your market to these same people. Describe your go-to-market. Describe all the things you know about how you are going to be successful 100 times and see at what conversation number you realize you actually don’t know that much. If you don’t get to that point, then there’s a good chance you are still talking more than you are listening. You may need more than 100 conversations.
Describe your end user 100 times. See if you can describe the actual pain point that you solve for them. See if you can define why you are a must-have and not just a nice-to-have. See if you can convince others, or yourself, that someone will actually change their behavior to adopt your product. See how many times it takes before you don’t really even believe yourself anymore. At that point, you’re a lot closer to success.
These 100 people aren’t “right”. In fact, they will contradict each other a lot. They will make the already difficult process of starting a company temporarily seem that much more difficult.
So, why in the world would you do this to yourself?
Because you’re not right either.
And, the repetitions and iterations and brute force that talking to 100 people generates are your best start to getting there.
M.C. Escher: Metamorphoses