Don’t Follow the Focus Group

By Matt Harvey

1 min read | Jan 31, 2011

Entrepreneurs are often excited to receive initial customer feedback about their newest product or service. Of course, when so much time, sweat, and (maybe) tears have been poured into the latest iteration, the process of collecting feedback can also fill entrepreneurs with deep anxiety. And once all the feedback is gathered up, entrepreneurs want to quickly analyze the collected information, look for patterns, and make decisions for the next iteration.

However, according to entrepreneur and KPCB partner Randy Komisar, there may be a problem with responding to all that feedback — customers aren’t paid to be visionaries. While great insights can be gained from actual product users and customers, you can’t ask them whether a new innovation is something they need today.

“You’ve got to ask them the questions that allow you to know whether or not you think that innovation is something they will respond to when it’s ready,” says Komisar. This requires a great deal of focus and discipline on the part of entrepreneurs. Smart entrepreneurs still need to collect as much contextual information from customers as possible, but, in the end, they must find the answers to these questions for themselves. Remember, you’re the innovator.

In the following video, Komisar shares his thinking on this issue with STVP’s Executive Director, Tina Seelig.

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