Jacqui Chew began her talk at Four Athens on Oct. 19 by asking the people in the room to describe the products they were developing. People launched into descriptions of what their product was, what it could do and what stage they were at in the development of their Minimum Viable Product. Once everyone was finished, Chew noted that almost no one had described the target user.
“All of you gave me a really good description of what you have built or are building, but what’s a little fuzzier is who the audience is and why they should care,” Chew said.
Finding a target audience, and focusing on specific customer segments, were the central concepts of Chew’s talk, a part of ATDC @ Four Athens, a recurring event which brings industry professionals and startup initiators from the Advanced Technology Development Center to the Athens community.
Chew has significant experience in the startup industry, having launched 100 products in her career. She has worked for nineteen years either as a chief marketing officer inside of a startup, or as an interim chief marketing officer for startups.
Now in her company iFusion, and as a marketing catalyst for ATDC’s portfolio companies, she said she continues to fill this role. She also organizes Georgia’s largest TEDX event, TEDxPeachtree. According to Chew, throughout her career she has raised roughly 90 million dollars on behalf of startups, in venture and angel capital.
Chew said a key aspect to the success of startups is determining which customer segment will be the most profitable, and building the company around this target market to generate enough revenue to begin to scale the business and go to the next level.
“It is crucially important to focus in on your product value proposition before you build the product,” she said in her presentation.
Startups by nature are resource-constrained, Chew said. Taking time to figure out whether there are enough companies and consumers who want the product, and if they can pay enough for a business to be viable, is essential to keeping a startup profitable and growing.
Chew referenced the lean startup methodology as tool to help in this process, as well as several defined stages of a startup’s journey including customer discovery, customer validation, customer creation and company building. She said once a company has a MVP and a defined market fit, the business can focus on a customer acquisition plan, sales and marketing.
A key takeaway to Chew’s talk was the idea of constantly listening to the market and the customer. Chew referenced tech giants like Google and Facebook, with regard to the idea that good companies never stop the discovery process, and never stop listening to their users.
“Our products exist not because people have to understand our product. The products exists, and we will thrive, if we build the products for people, because it solves their problem,” Chew said.
According to Chew, effective methods for determining who will buy a product and why are building customer archetypes, in-person interviews, asking open-ended questions and forming preemptive hypotheses.