O’Donnell: Live In The Problem

Our new motto over here at Ask the VC is “we read all the VC blog posts so you don’t have to.” We’ll give you the best one of the day with a quick summary and – if there are runner ups, include them also. Of course, we are never entirely sure what day it is so these might be from yesterday, today, or even tomorrow when we are really ahead of our game.

Today’s post of the day is from Charlie O’Donnell at First Round Capital titled Live in the problem, not in the solution: How customer development has gone awry. Charlie acknowledges up front that he’s not a Lean Startup zealot, although he thinks there are a lot of positives to the Lean Startup approach. He then goes on to talk about the challenge of applying the customer development approach to a domain you know nothing aboutl

“What’s lacking is an innate understanding of the customers problems before they go through the ideation phase. I find that some of the most sound entrepreneurial efforts are one where the founder has lived the problem uniquely in some way. Either they actually were the customer (and by customer I mean someone who pays for this kind of service) or they’ve literally spent years thinking about it–as an enthusiast or insider. “

We’d add a small comment to this – it’s really hard to be an entrepreneur around something you aren’t passionate about. This is tightly linked to Charlie’s point, as it’s hard to know a lot about something you aren’t passionate about.

Today’s runner up is Fred Wilson’s MBA Monday post on Financing Options: Preferred Stock. We cover this extensively in Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, but Fred does a nice job of introducing the concept.