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by Andrew Muir Wood

Mentoring at Google Launchpad Malaga


Andrew running a workshop

What happened?

In early October, Andrew was invited to Malaga to be a mentor and workshop leader at the latest Google Launchpad Accelerator. 8 European cybersecurity startups attended, mainly from Spain, to receive mentoring on many aspects of their business, from product roadmap to growth and technology. Mentors were brought in from all over Europe to provide guidance on each of these specialisms.

How and why were we involved?

Andrew brought his experience of building research capabilities in startups and working in a business data startup (DueDil) back in the day. Alongside Jacob Greenshpan, one of the founding fathers of Launchpad and 3 other product/design mentors, he helped to pilot a new workshop format for training teams to learn from their customers.

We believe that startups that speak to their customers regularly can “learn faster”: prioritise and build for their most profitable segments and reduce the need for costly late pivots (or failure). The acceleration of these teams also aims to build self-sufficiency, jobs and prosperous ecosystems in their countries. We talk a lot about leaving them with “fishing rods”, the tools and mindset needed to find answers for themselves.

What did we notice?

Here are a few research themes that Andrew noticed from the event:

  1. Several of the startups mentioned afterwards that they thought they were doing customer research, but were actually making decisions based on flawed processes and evidence.

We’d like to work out how this miseducation happens. We are actually in the early stages of a study of startup founders to find out more.

  1. In startups that have a finite addressable market of business customers (B2B), there is a great tension between customer research and sales. How do you learn what you need to build from a relevant company, whilst keeping them as a potential customer further down the line?

We think it’s achievable: more on this in the next few months!

  1. When teaching startups about research, it’s not always clear how product outcomes/decisions relate back to the interviews and planning. How might we ensure that research helps inform action?

In the workshops that we run with startups (and also established businesses and agencies) we help teams to draw lines that connect the research with specific business and product decisions.

What’s next?

As always with Launchpad, it was inspiring to work alongside and learn from the other mentors, we made many new connections and friendships. Each business and sector we work with presents a new set of product research questions and challenges to work through. We look forward to seeing the startup teams develop and prosper.

If you are interested in having us run a product research talk or workshop for your business, then give us a shout at hello@muirwood.co.uk. We also work with a number of startups to guide them through the process of planning, running and analysing their own research through affordable monthly “capability building” sessions. It’s like adding a research director to your team, but without the hefty wages or stationery bills!

Andrew looking shifty