We're launching a new service for founders to supercharge their customer discovery

Hello, and welcome to Future Founders. In this week’s newsletter, we’re going to be doing something a bit different… we’re launching an entirely new product, and want to go into the why and how behind our newest offering: Customer Discovery-as-a-Service

The TL;DR is that we’re now providing founders a done-for-you service to turn on world-class customer discovery for your startup. That means clarity around your target market, a constant flow of new customers that are telling you what they want (so you can build it), and a repeatable GTM engine that will drive design partners and early adopters.

Think of this as having a fractional business/sales co-founder with deep expertise (we’ve done this for dozens of founders) who can focus on your customer, market, business strategy, sales and marketing.

As we launch this, we’ll be taking on a limited number of new clients - if you’re interested fill out this form and we’ll set up a call to share more about how we can help accelerate your startup.

But don’t stop here - read on to learn more!

Fractional Teams Really Are Amazing

A few months ago, I wrote about my friend Mike Saloio’s startup Huddle as a way highlight the growing trend around fractional work (I went so far as to call it a Fractional Team Revolution). And since then - probably because it’s now on my radar - I’ve seen fractional work everywhere.

You can get your product designed and built with fractional teams. You can get marketers, copywriters, even chiefs of staff and generalist operators for your startup. There are new communities for fractionalists (I think that’s the word), and even fractional service providers who serve other fractional service providers. Suffice to say, going fractional is blowing up.

But not only is there a fractional team for every service under the sun, I’m seeing more and more startups lean in - for very good reason. Let me lay out the case:

As a founder, you have to wear every hat as you bring your idea to life - talk to customers, design a product, build it, sell it, raise money. It’s a lot, every time. And you’re probably learning most of these skills on the fly. But as you go through those steps, you don’t get to drop one thing and you move on to the next. No, you have to continue talking to customers, and continue iterating on the product, and you never stop selling. So you’re both stretched too far, and making a lot up as you go along.

But getting help and growing a team the traditional way, with full time hires, is risky, expensive and creates a lot of new work. You have to take on new roles - recruiter, manager, HR, culture builder. - on top of everything you’re doing. You put in months of time to find the right person, to onboard them, maybe even train them, and then you still run the risk of people not working out (extremely common for early stage startups). And when things change and you go in a new direction or growth slows - and you have to shift the team - it’s painful with a full time team.

To top it all off, as an early stage startup you’re cash strapped, so you can’t afford senior level people, even though you’d like to bring on someone who knows what they’re doing and can level you up. So it’s a catch-22 and you usually go with someone who’s up and coming - which can work out amazingly, or not.

Enter the fractional team, where you can get senior level people, for less than the cost of a junior person, without spending any time recruiting, onboarding or training, and you work on a contract basis, so the flexibility to ramp up or down is baked in.

What’s the catch? The trade off is you get less than full-time hours of their time. But you get their full brain, to implement strategy and process and to know what they’re doing. And in practice, when a fractional person is on task for a quarter time role, they’re getting quite a bit done because they’re getting the right stuff done. And if you need more time on target, you as a founder should fill in and learn from the fractional functional expert.

Obviously fractional teams aren’t a panacea to solve all startup problems. I would suggest a founder only hire and bring people into their team - fractional or not - when they have a really clear sense for the role, when they’ve done it themselves a bit (or a lot) and made mistakes but also figured out generally what works for them. It’s dangerous to hire outside help to “tell you what to do” - don’t do that. But when bringing people on, a flexible, affordable, scaleable (and scale down-able) team can be a founder’s dream.

Customer Discovery-as-a-Service

I mentioned before that there are agencies and freelancers covering every functional service under the sun. That’s mostly true. As I’ve been looking, I haven’t seen anyone who’s offering a core, fundamental function that every founder needs to do and needs to do well - Customer Discovery.

Customer Discovery is one of those things that’s hugely, hugely important. The best/most successful founders I know all have a story about how they talked to hundreds of people and even had their first early customers signed up before building their product. There’s almost no substitute and most people don’t quite get how intense top tier founders are about talking to people. And when I encounter a founder who’s swirling or struggling, it’s usually because they went ahead and built what they wanted to build, without that intense focus on customers, or really much input in any way.

To say it another way, I can give a fairly accurate prediction of your startup’s success by looking at your calendar and seeing how many customer calls you have any given week. That’s the semi-harsh truth. I also know that many founders don’t have backgrounds in user research, or the experience or know-how to drive a consistent flow of potential users and customers, to ask the right questions at the right time, to understand what you’re hearing and turn insights into strategy. I’ve seen time and again founders put amazing effort forward, only to not get the job done.

So we’re launching a service to solve just that, and enable any founder to tap into world-class customer discovery with a snap of their fingers.

This is a first for Day One. Up to now, we’ve supported founders through programs that combine education, community and coaching. But now we’re jumping in, rolling up our sleeves, and offering services directly to founders.

The benefits of doing Customer Discovery are real - and we make it turnkey:

  1. Save time and money by building more of the right things that customers want - and killing bad ideas faster

  2. Get a head start on sales and revenue, so that as your product goes live, you have customers ready and waiting and a repeatable, consistent GTM engine up and running

  3. Develop a deep understanding of your target market that will inform and fuel fundraising

If you’re not already talking to customers every day, then you’re leaving all this on the table. With this service, we’re going to help founders with the work that probably is THE biggest factor in their success.

We’ve already gotten started and our first founder partners have been loving the way we’re not just coaching, connecting and guiding (we still do that), but rapidly leveling up their operation, talking to dozens of customers each week, and driving rapidly toward product-market fit.

We’re also bringing over a decade of experience to this, having done exactly this kind of work for dozens of startups that have gone on to raise millions and serve thousands of customers - across health and wellness, CPG and physical products, B2B SaaS, professional services, crypto - you name it, we’ve done it.

Give me all the deets!

Okay, I doubt you were that excited, but here’s what we’re doing.

Like any fractional service, you get a top-tier operator who will plug into your team seamlessly and in a matter of days. This operator is an expert in both Customer Discovery AND operating at the earliest stages of a startup.

We make getting started super easy - there’s a standard small, medium and large size engagements starting at just $2,500 / month. You sign up for a month to month subscription, and we’ll work with you to figure out what’s the best package for you and your startup.

When we start working with you, we immediately implement a process that we’ve honed from doing Customer Discovery for dozens of startups:

  1. We create documentation and tracking systems so that every aspect of your customer and market insights, targeting, outreach, and customer funnel are structured and usable by the whole team

  2. We implement tactics to accelerate your ability to reach your customer - we usually reach a rate of 3-5 new customer engagements every week, and in a matter of months can go from a standstill to paying/committed customers.

  3. We take over engaging your customer, running interviews, recruiting design partners, and engaging a growing customer community. We’ll work with your team to translate insights into product direction, positioning, branding, and overall business strategy.

Beyond these tactics, as founders, we know the stress you’re under, how quickly you need operate and iterate, and we promise to increase your team’s clock speed. When was the last time you made a hire and they were up and functional in under two weeks?

Net net: we’ve created a plug-and-play service for you to accelerate how you find, reach, engage, understand and ultimately sell and market to your customer. Whether Customer Discovery has been a blocker for you, or you just want to go faster, we’ve got you covered.

How do I know if this is for me

We’ve designed Customer-Discovery-as-a-Service for early stage founders who fit into one of three use cases:

  1. You’re a founder with an idea that you’ve been thinking about, exploring, maybe you’ve even started to build something - but you haven’t yet validated your core assumptions. You might be thinking about fundraising down the road, or just want to build a product people want.

  2. Your a founder with a product in market, some customers, and perhaps funding and a small team. Everyone is focused on a thousand things, and staying close to your customer is becoming harder and harder to do, but you know it’s essential to build a product that people want and go to market smarter.

  3. Your a founder who’s planning to launch into a new / adjacent market or a new product, on top of an initial product or market that’s working. You’re tempted to just go for it, but you know you should put the same rigor into developing this new market that you did in getting your first product launched.

Basically these are the early, middle and late stages of the early stage - before your startup is hitting growth trajectory, when searching for product-market fit is pretty much everything. If any of these is you, reach out and get in touch - we’d love to learn and share more.

What’s Next For Day One

This new offering and service is the latest iteration of how we’re living out our mission to support early-stage founders. If early stage founders need it, we’re thinking about how to help.

We’re still big believers in the power of community, education, and coaching - how the right advice, connection, encouragement or new perspective at the right moments can make a huge and ongoing difference for a founder. And we still believe that entrepreneurship is one of the most important and impactful drivers for solving big problems in our world, and that we need more entrepreneurs.

We’re just now jumping in, delivering value in new, highly needed ways. If you’re interested in Customer Discovery-as-a-Service, fill out this form and we’ll get back to you and set up a call to discuss your needs and how we can help.