i counted it Marcos Garcia Caravantes in a lecture at the Madrid campus, where he lamented the difficulty of application costume development (customer-centric development) when we talk about a startup whose product is aimed at the corporate (B2B) market. Although he describes himself as an enthusiast of design thinking, lean methods and scaling, García Caravantes observed the complications that arise in a startup with limited resources when applying customer development to the corporate sector.

“Agile methodologies and a bootstrapping mentality guide you through these first steps. But as progress is made and the first customers arrive, the situation becomes more complicated and a balance must be found between the scarcity of resources, the urgent need to meet and even exceed the expectations of existing customers, and the need to attract more customers win and win to further develop the solution”. those of cubeof which he is co-founder, is a solution that offers a service to analyze customer behavior in large commercial spaces of at least more than 1,000 m2 that require highly professional management.

It is clear that no startup can risk undertaking full development with the associated investment of time and resources to present a final product to the customer. But it’s also true: “You can’t present yourself with anything with a company profile, the customer expects a more professional result from you,” says García Caravantes.

This impossibility of replicating small advances with prospects one after the other could be seen as a weakness of Lean methodology when it comes to B2B companies. Not that they should skip obtaining pre-information or validating the product with the customer, but that the decision cycles in this area are much slower and more complex than in the mass market and access to potential customers’ “quality time” is more difficult.

“The uncertainty and risk are the same as bringing a consumer product to market, but the validation process changes. The line between bootstrapping and premature scaling is very thin. The mass market with millions of potential customers has nothing to do with the corporate market, where it is sometimes reduced to a dozen customers and you cannot afford to lose one of them,” says Marcos García.

Therefore, concepts that are as common in B2C as those of early adopter in the product development phase (those who are usually at the forefront of technology) or the early consumers (early consumers), make no sense in B2B. It never occurs to anyone that a company that invests heavily and makes well-considered purchasing decisions is paying for a product that is unfinished or still in the testing phase. The requirements for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are higher.

The solution

The proposal that shows Robert Touza David, expert in lean startup and professor at several business schools, to avoid mistakes is to intensify contact with corporate customers from the beginning, before they even start work. “The good thing about B2B models is that you don’t have to study the market with a dispersed audience, you know your potential customers in advance and speak to them directly. But in this case, it’s not about just learning with them throughout development, but from the beginning and once you know what their real needs are, focusing on them and co-developing a product with them.”

Touza David insists how to deal with the issue based on previous investigations, “with in-depth problem interviews with customers. The keyword at this stage is learning, you’re not going to sell anyone or gain sympathy,” he warns, and “once the research is done and part of your development, come back to show off your MPV.” Touza also points out the difference between a prototype and an MPV, something, the latter, “which can’t be just anything, it has to be something that works, even if it’s small. Then the functionalities desired by the customer are implemented, but always by the customer.”

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