The Lean Startup: Solution Interview
After conducting Problem Interviews and validating that your problem or need exists, it’s time to move on to the Solution Interview.
Once you got both your problem and segment down, you need to figure out whether customers are actually willing to pay for your product.
Since building features into your product costs time, money, and energy, a solution interview will help you identify the features your customers actually want. Just like the Problem Interview, this interview follows the same build-measure-learn-cycle and should be repeated until you validate your assumptions.
The Solution Interview begins with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), an elevator message, and an interview form.
Typically in the form of a mock-up, drawing, or landing page, the Minimum Viable Product describes your product features in the simplest of terms, taking far less energy, time, and money than a prototype.
Once you have your Minimum Viable Product, create an Elevator Message that describes how your solution will serve your segment. Include the following:
- For (target customer segment)
- Who (state the problem they have)
- The (product name) is a (product category)
- That (statement of key benefit)
- Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
- Our solution (describe your idea and how it’s different from the competition)
Afterwards, prepare the Solution Interview form. List the three features you believe your segments will benefit from. The purpose here is to test your BMC’s value proposition as a means to validate that customers are willing to pay for your solution.
Similar to last week’s Problem Interview, measuring involves clearly defining your goal, and the pass/fail criteria for the features to be validated. For instance, customers will rank the features in order of importance, and state whether the solution is a “must-have”, “nice-to-have”, or “don’t have”. Also state a pass or fail criteria for your proposed revenue stream. This can be based on the number of people that agree with your suggested price or sign a pre-order sheet.
Afterwards, you will present your elevator message to at least 10 potential customers (the more the better), and then test your pricing to see whether interviewees would be willing to pay for your product.
After completing the interviews, add up the results to analyze the data and determine which features were validated or invalidated. Compare your results with your previous expectations and use the pass or fail criteria you defined earlier as a baseline to decide upon feature validation.
Once organized, gather your team, take the interview notes out and reread them, then update your hypothesis with what you learned from your interviews. If you decide you need more data, continue to conduct additional interviews and pivot until you validate.
Similar to the Problem Interview, the Solution Interview is designed to help you test your solutions, rank, eliminate or add new features, test some pricing and eventually get an actual customer order. Once you have successfully validated your assumptions with these two experiments, you will have a clear understanding of your customer and will have successfully achieved problem-solution fit.
You will know whether your proposed solution gives customers the kind of value that they’re willing to pay for.
You will know which features of your value proposition provide the most value (benefit), and will have invalidated certain features that you once believed customers want. And you will have saved yourself a lot of time, money and energy.
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Foster, P., & Giacomassi, R. (2015). Test Your Business Idea (1st ed.). Galeton, PA: The Business Therapist.
Ries, E. (2011). The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. New York: Crown Business.