Make something people want (but how do you know?)

It's good advice - it even has its own Paul Graham essay1. The question of course, is how you really know if people really want want you're making. There are some tried and true methods:

  • Make an unbounce page. Do people visit? Register? Buy?
  • Run Search/Social ads. Do people click?
  • Make a prototype. Will people pay anything for it? Will they pay cost price? Will they pay full price?

We tried all of these things during the Startmate2 accelerator programme. I remember being disillusioned during one Facebook ad campaign when we were getting trolled by people who thought that parents shouldn't use technology to limit screen time and that it should just be part of everyday parenting (I'll be posting on that little argument soon). One of our mentors, Niki Scevak3, had a very different take on it:

You're getting trolled? That's great! It means people care about the problem you're solving. The biggest risk of a startup is that people don't care. If people feel strongly enough to actually respond to your ad, either positively or negatively, you're onto something.

-- Niki Scevak

I now agree.

I had a bit of a 'founder moment' (foument?) today though, where it really started to hit home for me in a different way. We had a client purchase a KoalaSafe device, but it was late in shipping. He was really anxious to receive his unit - not because he was worried it wouldn't come, or that we hadn't met his handling time expectations - but because he was desperate to have his problem solved.

This particularly customer had an autistic daughter and having a very predictable routine, including screen-time limits, was a crucial part of the family's plan. He desperately wanted his KoalaSafe unit for the good of his family and his daughter.

So, I went and hand-delivered it. He was really thankful for the effort, but more importantly I could see how excited he was to get the tool to help with his parenting plan that he so desperately wanted.

So how do you really know when you are making something people want? Every now and then something will happen and you will just know.

Happy customer.
Happy founder.