Startup Stories: Jack Dean of Customer Discovery Ninja

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Jack Dean

I was able to connect with Jack Dean, creator of Customer Discovery Ninja, a program to help entrepreneurs perform research before jumping in and creating their business. An entrepreneur himself, Jack saw a lack of reliable research tools available to fledgling companies-so he created one.

Customer Discovery Ninja provides on-demand customer discovery interviews for startup founders by connecting them to a pool of US consumers. Additionally, it aids the customer discovery process by providing note taking, call recording, and sharing with other founders & teammates.

We’ve knocked on the doors in low-income housing properties and bugged people in the light bulb aisle at Home Depot looking for feedback. Sometimes we got friendly people happy to help and sometimes we got people yelling at us for interrupting them. At times, people were angry enough that I actually thought I was in danger.

“We knew that there had to be a better way to get feedback. After putting our heads together, we came up with the idea of a quick and easy way to get interviews safely and without interrupting someone’s day. Boom! Customer Discovery Ninja was born!”

What do you wish you had known before you got started?

We teach customer discovery in workshops and mentor people who are just getting started with it. I think we would have been better off by including some of this educational information, tutoring, courses, etc into our solution. If you know how to do customer discovery, the tool is fantastic. But if there is a bit of learning to do before you can be an effective interviewer, it may take some time for you to see the value.

We knew that there had to be a better way to get feedback. After putting out heads together, we came up with the idea of a quick and easy way to get interviews safely and without interrupting someone’s day.

Have a real conversation with people. Use an open dialogue, not a survey; and definitely don’t rely on market research. Business is about people, so talk to them. We see a lot of entrepreneurs treat their first interview like it’s a survey by just reading questions off and getting a yes or no answer.

In order to get an accurate view of your customer, ask open-ended questions and get stories from the people. If it’s relevant, include your own experiences to really connect with your customer. The point is to have a real conversation and find out how your customers really feel about the problem and current solutions.

Another example of a startup founder solving a real problem he feels himself. Thanks Jack! Check out Customer Discovery Ninja at customerdiscovery.ninja.

Originally published on Martin.ai in January, 2016

Written by

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.

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