by Anna Grigoryan
March 6, 2022
I started doing customer interviews for my startup Kradl, a podcast discovery platform, in December.
Having experienced a failed startup before I knew immediately that I wanted to do some things differently this time.
- I wanted to start a company that is community-led. Build a supportive community at the core of the business.
- Do a lot of customer discovery interviews before building the actual product.
I had a magic number in my head of doing 100 customer interviews.
Usually the books and articles on the topic suggest that 30 interviews were more than enough to validate a startup idea.
However, I decided to stick to 100 for a couple of reasons:
- More data points to make decisions about the features in the minimum viable product.
- Opportunity to talk to a diverse set of people to gather different experiences.
- The most interested people will join the community so I’ll know how many potential customers I have.
Why customer interviews instead of a survey?
There’s no strong opinion why you should do interviews instead of surveys or vice versa. Both have their own merit, and in fact I plan to conduct a few surveys for Kradl as well.
However, I started specifically with customer interviews as:
- I wanted to understand the nuances of stories behind people in my target audience.
- I wanted to be able to follow my curiosity and ask more questions if needed.
In fact research shows that approaching entrepreneurship from the scientific perspective: building hypotheses and interviewing customers like scientists would also have an impact on your revenue. Adam Grant writes about this in his book “Think Again”.
Sourcing people for customer interviews
The problem with customer interviews is not that they take a lot of time, but it’s hard to find the right people who are willing to give you 40 minutes of their precious time.
Sourcing people for an interview was quite tricky. For Kradl I was looking for people:
- Who had a podcast and abandoned it for various reasons.
- Who had a podcast and was running it for a long time.
- Who wanted to start a podcast however, were scared of the amount of work it required.
How can you find people to talk to?
- Post on your social media to see if you already know people in your target audience.
- Ask your friends and family to make introductions, usually warm intro’s work quite well.
- Cold reach out to people you find interesting in your target audience.
First 2 options can get you somewhere, in my case I was able to get 10 or 12 introductions through my friends. Another 20 came from social media.
My specific problem was that I did not yet have a product that I was pitching to them. Basically my ask was:
“Hey I’m building something, and our interview would help me understand what exactly I’m building”.
Cold outreach did not bring a lot of interviewees as it’s hard to understand if a person actually is looking for a new solution or is interested in having conversations in the first place from the social media alone.
How Polywork helps me to do customer interviews
I was excited about Polywork when it was launched and had an account for a long time, but somehow it never crossed my mind that I should post about Kradl on there.
“Why is this a big deal Anna?” you would ask.
Allow me to elaborate.
Every user of Polywork has badges that they assign to themselves.
In my case I have “Writer”, “Podcaster” or “Hiker”. Things not only related to my professional career but also about what I do as a human being.
“Rabbit hole explorer” genius badge, whoever created it thank you!
With this you can know what other people are up to on Polywork.
Not only that but also you can mention how you can help other users and what you can give. One of those badges is “Open to participating in user research” (as of now 13,898 people have this badge).
“Find collaborators” page is a place where you can find people on Polywork who are open to help you and your project in different capacities.
If you’ve been following the story you’d understand my shock and surprise when I discovered that on Polywork there are more than 600 podcasters that are up to helping me in the research process.
This brought much needed diversity of opinions and stories into my research.
Currently I’m sitting at 60 customer interviews. Kradl has a strong feature set validated for the beta version launch.
In fact one of the reasons I’m writing this article, is because I found the opportunity to write for Polywork, you guessed it, on Polywork.
Collaboration and co-creation should be the core of each product.
Thanks to Polywork I can find people who are actively interested in contributing rather than being scattered over different social media platforms trying to keep up.
Want to check out Polywork? You can use this link to skip their waitlist