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When can talking to customers help startups?

9 startup problems research can help you solve

We love that we’re no longer persuading startups that learning from their customers is a critical success factor. However, when we speak with founders they don’t always know when research is the answer. We’ve put together this guide to help startups connect the growing pains they’re feeling to  the research that can help them. 

What makes things even trickier for founders is that research terminology has become so muddled. Learning from customers gets called all sorts, so it’s hard to know what to Google, what books to buy, or where to get help. Ridiculously, all of the following terms can be used to describe customer research in industry parlance:

UX research, design research, product research, user research, user testing, customer development, problem-solution-fit, jobs-to-be-done research, go-to-market strategy, product-market-fit, language-market-fit, concept validation, continuous discovery, customer insights, information architecture, design thinking.

We try to steer clear of the buzzy titles, we just work with founders to identify the scariest problems and design bespoke research to solve them. We choose the most appropriate methods that’ll help you to move forward quickly with the best solution.

Coming up are 9 of the most common problems that founders come to us with and which we can help with. These challenges fall into three main categories:

  1. Getting customer fit, by understanding more about the best (and worst) segments
  2. Working out the features to build next on the roadmap that will solve customer needs
  3. Telling the story of your business in a way that reflects customers’ problems and decision processes

Get customer fit

🌱 You want to grow your business

Things are ticking along, you’re making sales but you want to make more. Speaking to customers can shine light on who your best segments are, or could be, so you can make sure to please them.

👋 Your customers are churning or rejecting

Losing customers at any point is a major pain in the bum, especially if you don’t know why. Your almost-customers and see-ya-later-buyers can help you learn from your mistakes.

👛 You’re wavering on pricing

It's risky business pricing a product. Your customers can help you make an informed decision. They can tell you how they view your product in the market and how much they value having their problem solved.

Build your roadmap

💡 You need help to generate ideas

Whether its for a product or a feature, getting to grips with your users' tasks, pains and goals will give you the detailed understanding that’ll get your design juices flowing.

🤷‍♀️ You're stuck deciding between ideas

Choosing between ideas is difficult when you’re so close to the problem. Customer feedback helps to make this a rigorous, repeatable process, safe from biased bosses.

🕵️‍♂️ You're searching for a market

You’ve already got a solution, but you don’t know who’s going to buy it first. Quickly and systematically explore alternative customer segments to find a perfect fit and feature set.

Tell your story

💰 Investor questions scare you

Being able to show that you understand your customers is a big green flag for investors. It’s super useful for you too! Gather evidence to show who your customer is and what problem they want solved.

📝 Your copy isn't converting

Does your copy resonate with your customers' needs? Does it communicate your value proposition effectively? Stop reading it over, questioning how it looks and ask!

☎️ Sales don’t connect with real pain points

Doing proper customer research is a great way to prepare your sales team for their conversations. It’ll help them qualify who to speak to and give them a real head start on what to say (and what not to).


Andrew has worked as a research leader in two startups, he mentored 100s more through accelerators around the world and has also worked with 30+ startup clients at all stages of investment.

If you’ve got a problem (or a few of them) and you’re wondering whether we can help you, get in touch.

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