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Many startups fail by not validating their ideas early on with real-life customers. Entrepreneurs need to get out of the building and validate their ideas with actual customers. Only by searching for the real pain points and unmet needs of the customer, can you find a proper solution supported by the proper business model.


Remember, it doesn’t matter how passionate you are about your idea and how great you think your product will work, all that matters is what your customers think of your product.

For example, according to Business Insider, the startup Dever failed because they focused on ”on building the accelerator while minimizing our contact with users and customers.” The founders reasoned that they “knew how great it (the product) was and time spent talking to customers was time we could be hacking!” In a Lessons Learned blog post, the founders shared that they “should have focused more on customer development and finding a minimum viable product (MVP).”

Building a startup is not about building a business model of what you think works, but the process of searching for the actual business model itself.

How do we nail the business model? The key answer lies in rapidly testing your theories with customers in order to deliver the minimum viable product necessarily to satisfy your customers’ needs. Therefore, you need to get out of the building and constantly ask your customers not about improving your product ideas, but to identify their needs and pain points first. From there, you can then ask yourself whether your product idea can solve your customers’ needs and pain points.


If your product idea doesn’t fit with your customers’ needs and pain points, then you need to ask yourself “why?” and figure out how your product can meet market fit. You may need to pivot and change your whole product idea before you find the one that works. This step is the first crucial process of seeking the business model that works: finding product-market fit.

Once you figure out your product-market fit, you can move on to planning out your distribution model, key resources, key activities and other parts of the business that will help support your product delivery to your customers. Adhering to this process will save you months of work and give you a higher chance to succeed.

For more on the Customer Development process, key tools, and steps to build a successful startup, check out How to Build a Startup, by Steve Blank. In this course, you’ll learn the essential business skills it takes to bring your idea from conception to market.

Check out the course

Teacher, mentor, and coach for Udacity's students. Mark brings new perspectives to the table with his Data Analysis industry experience, helping students and businesses build new value together. If not in front of his computer, you can find Mark running, biking, swimming or jumping around on the stage playing Taiko.