Find a Good Customer – Bob Caspe

It’s harder to find a good customer than it is to build a good product

Do you agree that this statement is true? I hope by the end of this episode that you’ll feel liberated and empowered by this mental model. As you’re going to hear in this episode, I believe cost of customer acquisition is the thing that sinks most startups. That’s why we force you acquire a customer first. You do the hardest thing first, and everything else feels easier.

Most people don’t do this and some of them succeed anyway. But have you ever met somebody that keeps pitching a good idea but the business isn’t going anywhere? I have. I’ve been that person and it feels terrible. At some point the business starts feeling like a burden that you’re carrying around. Determination is good, but sometimes your allegiance to your idea makes you rigid and becomes a disadvantage.

So liberate yourself from the tyranny of a good idea and start with the customer, instead! Doesn’t that sound kind of obvious? I first learned this approach from my teacher at Babson College – a guy named Bob Caspe. Bob’s advice liberated me from the oppressive mythology that entrepreneurs had to be visionaries. It took the pressure off of my vision – something I either have or don’t have – and put the emphasis on what I could find out by talking to people – which is something I can do something about.

I asked Bob Caspe to share a couple stories that illustrate how this mental model can benefit a new entrepreneur

Bob Capse is an electrical engineer who became the founder and CEO at several successful technology firms, including Leaf Systems, CDA, and Sound Vision. He taught entrepreneurial marketing at Babson College for seven years starting in 2005, which is where we met. Without Bob we could have never started HeatSpring, and his influence on my life is a big reason I decided to teach.

Listen carefully to Bob’s examples and try to see the genius in the subtlety of what he’s saying.