Link to Rob’s book

One hundred customers, the famous number, sometimes called the magic number. Why? Well it is statistically relevant, it’s reachable, is at some point satisfying.  

But, do we really need to talk to 100 customers? 

I mean talking to people we don’t know is scary, hard, and time-consuming.  

100 customers, that’s way too much, “I already know my idea is good” is sometimes the phrase, “I talked with a couple of people, and I think I have something here”, let’s just make a prototype.  

And that’s how startups and founders often jump the gun into build mode, rather than taking the time and effort of validating their business ideas.   

It’s very understandable, it is fun to be on build mode, we love that part, it’s easy and gives us instant gratification.  

We all know that talking to customers and people in the ecosystem is a MUST. Every idea needs to be tested. And we did with our first projects. But at the beginning, even talking with people first, we ended up building stuff nobody wants. What happened? Steve Blank please help, we went out of the building, and we messed it up.   

Well, we soon learn (Thanks to Rob. - Hi Rob!) that we were doing our customer interviews all wrong.

The Mom Test - ask the right question 

Rob Fitzpatrick developed a test, the mother of all tests, that is actually called The Mom Test, and we have been using those insights since then for market validation.  

Simply put, The Mom Test, is a tool for asking the right questions that makes sure that you are getting truthful and valuable data from people, which puts you on the right path for development.  

With the Mom Test, not even your mom can lie to you (because she often does, they think you are the best and would say anything out of love, such as “what a great business idea!”).   

Here are our top 5 tips we learn and applied from The Mom Test: 

  1. Never talk about your idea in early-stage customer conversations, ask them casually about their life and specific facts about past situations.  
  2. Let them talk, if you are talking more than them, just stop, shut up and listen.  
  3. Don’t ask questions about the future: “would you ever, do you think, is it possible that, etc.” 
  4. Do not seek for compliments “Do you like it? Do you think it will work?” 
  5. Ask for a commitment from their side. When it is early stage, we often ask at the end to give us the contact of somebody else. If the project is at a later stage, we ask for pre-orders. This is how you differentiate a real customer, from a “liar”.   

A 100 customers test

But, “Hey, do we really need a 100?” Not really.  

100 is a good number, but it’s not about the quantity of meetings, it’s about having enough until you really understand your customers.  A key indicator that has helped us, is keep on going with customer conversations until the information is consistent.  

Now, remember that for medical device startups and entrepreneurs, we must keep in mind that we have not only one customer, but rather 4 principal customers that we need to satisfy at the same time: 

  1. Patient 
  2. Doctor  
  3. Hospital (Provider) 
  4. Insurance (Payer) 

Make sure you are asking all of them the RIGHT questions. If you properly engage in the idea validation process, is like having a 1-month free trial of your business before committing to “buying a yearly plan”.  

If you want to dig in deeper into this, I recommend reading Rob’s book.

Link to Rob’s book
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Link to Rob’s book

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