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Pilot customer strategy

Hi Folks - realized my other post wasn't the right way to do it here, so let me pose the topic this way.

I was curious as to strategies in getting busy professional folks to become pilot customers for a proof of concept or in my case a fully working MVP. I'm reaching out to my own industry network (in commercial real estate), but also looking at the cold intro approaches, but really want to maximize my bandwidth there. Any words of advice/inspiration would be much appreciated.

As an aside, if anyone has any contacts in Commercial Real Estate local to Los Angeles that might be open to a discussion, please let me know, thank you!

14 Replies

Lawrence I Lerner
3
0
Lawrence I Lerner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Digitalization and Transformation Coach
Great topic for discussion. Curious to hear what others have to say.

People are busy but they generally have time for content that's relevant to them. One technique I've been on both ends of is an interview. Have someone craft an article in your domain and publish it in a relevant online forum. If you're in Real Estate, what are the local online portals that your target audience frequent in the LA area? Have someone write an article and as part of that do an interview with you as to how you are disrupting the model (or whatever you are bringing). You can put your request to follow the link as part of the piece.

You can certainly write your own article but it's more compelling if someone else tells your story. As a writer myself, I am always looking for a fresh angle to create a point of view.
Vijay Goel, MD
1
0
Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
I've seen linkedin group posts generate good responses if the "pitch" was on target.

I'm doing something similar in catering, so I've found I can find early targets by responding to something they're kvetching about that I'm helping to solve

BTW what are you solving for? I'm shopping for some CRE and current solutions seem pretty hard to work with (loopnet, cityfeet, etc)
Andrew Gee
0
0
Andrew Gee Entrepreneur
Real Estate Consultant & Broker
@Lawrence, thanks didn't think of this approach at all. A CRE online blog featured my MVP very early on last summer, so i should prob reach out to them to see if there is interest in a follow up post (my site is now a fully formed proof of concept from where it was then). i frankly am not certain what other outlets that industry folk in LA are using daily, but this is good - I should do more digging.

@Vijay - I've also used LinkedIN groups for just industry feedback, but i prob need to revisit this as well, thanks. Well what we are solving for is to make information flows easier for people looking to buy, sell and research CRE. Doing this by using data thats either free or low cost and coming up with an estimate of value for any CRE property, so that's our starting point to hopefully solve the pain of the current process. the data is also used to come up with actionable metrics and data visualizations which are useful for investors, prop owners, asset managers etc.
Vijay Goel, MD
0
0
Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
Have you talked to the factual folks? May be able to get some of this data from them.

From what I can tell, segmentation is pretty horrible which makes the comparables useless. Are you looking to create the "Zillow" for the CRE space?
Andrew Gee
0
0
Andrew Gee Entrepreneur
Real Estate Consultant & Broker
No i havent reached out to factual, thanks for the tip! And yes a Zillow for CRE is the high level concept
Alasdair Clements
2
0
Alasdair Clements Entrepreneur
Co-Founder, GoCAR GPS-Guided Tours
By Zillow analogy you mean it will empower consumers & suppliers of real estate to become knowledgeable for free and then connect them with broker? This way Zillow is not cannabilizing broker's turf, but generating more lead flow for them. But CoStar kind of does this already. Maybe hard to disrupt them. They earn trust by validating data as well. NextDoor is an alternate analogue. That model creates "knowledge" by social networking owners and tenants together. Something not yet done I believe. Its a rich vein to tap. The pricing model could be like LinkedIn Premium - pay more to unlock more value. Or a databank model - the more you give, the more you get. What ever revenue model, it needs to be perceived as giving "edge". CRE brokers are info traders like any other. Anything that makes them look good and compete better. Asset managers are the same. At IPD I saw portfolio managers love how our data made them look good. Perhaps good pilot market is inland empire industrial - somewhat homogeneous product, distinct market, distinct players, institutional participation. If it goes well, then CBD office & retail markets will take note.
Monica Borrell
1
0
Monica Borrell Entrepreneur
CEO and Founder at Cardsmith
Here is what I decided to do to get real feedback on product designs and functionality and to seed my project with customer evangelists who will be early adopters of the product and also (hopefully) spread the word to their peers down the road.

I decided to go for quality over quantity and to really engage a small number of target customers from the very beginning. I wanted to really give them a sense of ownership in the success of our project. So, I created a customer advisory group. I limited the membership to 5 or 6 people, wanting to make it exclusive and special.

I defined the time commitment required by the customer members and the benefits they would receive in exchange. One of the key benefits was to be part of creating something new and valuable in an area that they cared about. That was actually one of the most motivating factors - people want to be part of something creative and new!

I just kicked this off with our first monthly meeting. We are not as far along the dev path as you are. We kicked it off with a dinner and social event followed by a presentation that shared with them the vision, showed them our wireframe designs and then asked them to do a homework assignment. This approach takes a lot of time. I personally recruited each member from my network over a meal or coffee. I believe having a VIP group like this makes a lot of sense for my business, and I believe it will pay off in the end. Some are already talking about others that will be a good addition to this small exclusive group, and one is thinking she may not be in our target market which is also valuable information.

this approach might not work for your situation, but I figured I'd share it in case it sparks any ideas. I love this group for that!
Andrew Gee
0
0
Andrew Gee Entrepreneur
Real Estate Consultant & Broker
Thanks for the thoughtful responses everyone.... a lot to think about, but ultimately I too want to create a rather small set of pilot customers who could eventually become evangelists for my startup...that is the ideal goal in my mind
Joe Mellin
2
0
Joe Mellin Entrepreneur
View My Learnings
So it seems like your MVP is testing your value hypothesis (and you are testing if people use it / engage with it long term etc.)

You could also start with testing your growth engine first. It sounds like a paid growth engine so I am guessing you need a way to market to commercial real-estate people.

So just put up 20$ per day on google adwords and try to get people to sign up after describing the product you intend to build.

Then if they do that is a good thing and you can apologize and ask to notify them when the real product launches.

My main point here is that if your initial customers are not ones from your growth engine, they may not be representative of who those who are.


Graeham Ford-Feliz
0
0
Graeham Ford-Feliz Entrepreneur
CEO at Emergent Coast
@Monica that sounds interesting. "Extreme Customer Development." Am interested in how that progresses.

A lot of good advice. I want to echo @Joe's point as it's automation will allow you to pursue other approaches simultaneously.
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