I outlined our Customer Development and Lean Startup Process in my last two posts. In this post I will provide a brief of the hypotheses we proved in our Customer Discovery, the first phase of the Customer Development process that is meant to be done outside of the office with validated customers.  

Again, Customer Discovery includes:

  • Identifying a phenomenon (e.g. when it rains people use umbrellas)
  • Creating a causal hypothesis to rationalize the phenomenon (e.g. people use umbrellas because they don't like to get wet)
  • Using your hypothesis to foretell the outcomes of new observations (e.g. we predict that people will carry umbrellas if they believe it will rain that day)
  • Using experiments to assess the accuracy of your prediction (e.g. measure the rate of people bringing an umbrella to work once they've received an email that it will likely rain that day)

The following are some of the hypotheses that were essentially proven through our Customer Discovery phase. We've of course integrated learnings from such into our upcoming PlaySay Survival iPhone application (sign up for beta access!). I'd love to hear if anyone has experienced objective results contrary to anything below. Except for where explicitly specified, all of the below hypotheses pertain to the foreign language learning market of the USA (excluding the English learning market)

  • moving a different product into one's current market is wiser than moving one's current product into a new market because learning a new market takes much longer than building a new product
  • Facebook is best for reach but not monetization because users expect a passive entertainment experience on Facebook and not an active education experience
  • learners do not need (versus want) to learn a foreign language because English is the de facto language of the world
  • learners of English as a second language (ESL) will pay substantial amounts of money for a learning solution because they need to learn the language (versus want to learn the language)
  • a solution limited in scope captures the majority of the market because the majority of the market are not substantially motivated to attain fluency
  • learners will only pay substantial amounts of money for a foreign language learning solution if it's comprehensive in scope (selling the dream/opportunity) because they place a higher value on fluency than basic knowledge
  • subscription-based business models are not successful for language learning solutions because users haven't remain engaged long at all
  • learners care a lot about about the method of ingesting content because they need a good experience to remain engaged
  • learners care little about the origin of the language learning content because they can't decipher its validity/accuracy without being an expert in the foreign language
  • learners aren't likely to identify with traditional education brands (e.g. Pearson, Houghton Mifflin) because they associate such with stodgy, boring classroom experiences
  • learners are likely to identify with popular culture brands (e.g. Nike, Apple) because they associate such with a fun and unique experience
  • it's easier to monetize mobile language learning applications than online language learning applications because mobile language learning applications are far fewer and users expect online language learning applications to be free

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