Get out of the building – What kind of advice is that ?

Do you build products by getting out of the building ?

Let me introduce you to the four phases of what getting out of the building means.

Steve Blank introduces this in his classic ‘Four steps to Epiphany’ as follows


Customer Discovery – Here you kind of identify who are all the set of possible customers for your product. Who would be the key decision makers and who possibly will write the cheque for you.  This is an important step for validation of all your hypothesis

Customer Validation – This is a very important step. This is where you figure out that you have repeatable business and establish there is a clear product / market fit for your product.

Customer Creation – After the initial thrust, this is the stage where you acquire customers at a lesser cost. You would focus on achieving economies of scale , which in simple terms means you are able to achieve higher productivity as you have defined at lower cost.

Company Building –  On a lighter note, this is where possibly the t-shirt and jeans transforms to suits. Now you can possibly pat your back on the fact that you have arrived , but the challenges increase multi-fold as you possibly set yourself to make a dent in the universe.  I will not delve deep into this in this series, but shall briefly highlight the perils of Company Building.

Let me briefly explain the customer discovery process and the hypothesis that we had for Amuz.

To anyone who is reading this in isolation, a brief video of Amuz can be seen here.

For Amuz, though the customers initially were passengers, we had to be sure that the transport operators were willing to host the system in their vehicle

So the categories of transport operators were

  • Private and State Bus Operators
  • Indian Railways
  • Airlines

As we needed the content providers for content, we needed to speak with Content  and Aggregators and Content Publishers .

We needed to trial with the passengers who made the journey.

We needed to talk with advertisers to check if they would advertise on this medium.

Below is the snapshot of people whom we spoke to  in each of the category

Category People Spoken With
Bus Operators Sharma, VRL, KSRTC, SRS
Indian Railways South Western Railways
Airlines AirAsia, Indigo,
Content Providers and Aggregators Hotstar, Hungama, UTV, Sony
Advertisers Mudra, O & M
Bus Manufactures Volvo, Scania
Ticket Aggregator Redbus


Everyone we spoke in every segment was thrilled and no one rejected in outright. They all did see it as a possibility.

What did we go to these people with and What were the hypothesis we made ?

I would like to introduce you to the favourite terms of lean start-ups  called MVP . What on earth is a MVP ?

It is called as a Minimum Viable Product . This is your necessary ingredient to begin your customer discovery.

In my view, a MVP should be able to demonstrate the idea in tangible terms. It is possibly the bare bones release of your idea and it should be usable.

It is argued that MVP could be wireframes, videos, stories , and many other things, but my personal bet is working software.

Show me and I shall believe you is the unstated norm. Everyone wants to be surprised and nothing can bring in an element of WOW apart from working software. Murphy law shall play a role, but that is ok.

You could think who is going to fund the MVP, how do I build something if I do not have any money and that is a very valid thought. I shall cover that in an entirely different series when I start talking about financing your idea.

So the overall process that we have covered so far in some form looks like


Now, what are the hypotheses we made ? How did we fare on validating our hypotheses ?

Let us look at those in the coming week.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun).