The Pitfalls of a 1 Person Focus Group

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was talking to an investor yesterday and his comment was, “I just don’t see myself using this service.”  He went on to explain why he wouldn’t use the service.  His comments were very personal about his specific reasons.  Throughout his diatribe, I kept thinking, “how do I politely tell this person that that is a completely irrelevant point.”  Then I realized, telling him how irrelevant his point was, was also irrelevant, because this meeting was dead.  Move on to others who get it.

This is one of the classic mistakes that investors and business people make.  They hear an idea and immediately personalize it.  This mistake can go in both directions too.  You can over emphasize the value of a product because you like it.  I know I tend to do this.  I think it is natural and happens to the best of them.  See this post from the great Fred Wilson.  The key is to look at opportunities in a disciplined fashion.

1.  Who is (are) the entrepreneur(s)?  Is it an A+ team?

2.  Who is the likely user base and what evidence do you have that this is a need?

3.  If you solve the need, how big is the opportunity?  And how defensible is your position?

Another common mistake I have seen is focusing in on detail that you don’t like in an alpha product.  That too is pointless.  The product will ultimately change significantly.  And if you have a good entrepreneur going after the opportunity, then they will adjust accordingly.  So a more relevant question would be, “tell me examples of how you started in one direction, gained market feedback, adjusted the product and gained success?”  Doesn’t that seem more relevant than whether one person would use a product?

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