Customer Development and Product Market Fit | HS Live 2.0

Is your business going to be a huge one or a mediocre one?

Customers and Development

“The job of strategy is not to tell you what to do, but what not to do.”

Customer Validation and Product-Market fit are two terms that may sound easy but are tricky when it comes to implementation. We often hear of startups failing due to their lack of knowledge in this area. Headstart invited Mr. Punit Singh Soni, founder, and CEO of an AI-powered voice-enabled assistant for doctors, Suki. He is known for his abilities to craft exemplary strategies and build teams at Flipkart, Google, and Motorola. With the aim of bringing about a change in society, he bought with himself a bag full of expertise!

In terms of healthcare, Mr. Punit thinks it is best to zoom out and paint a broader picture. According to him, healthcare is the greatest industry in the world. Be it a pandemic or normal times, a developed or a developing country – the industry is needed at all times. The primary question for entrepreneurs should be how they can get through all the data, understand the trick, and enter the industry. He still remembers his first customer at Suki, a plastic surgeon who was overwhelmed with documentation. The whole team went to present the device to him! The client started paying a few months later.

B2B and B2C are two terms by which business selling is often categorized. Even though they are more like labels since the 2000s, it is important to understand the difference. On one hand, B2C gives you the liberty to do a little market research, build something quickly, and see if it sticks in the market. On the other hand, the risk factor in B2B businesses is high and we need to be much more careful. 

Customer Development is needed to initially commence the business. The product needs to be built and the go-to-market needs to be figured out beforehand. In other words, the business needs to have a road map and a good picture in mind of how to introduce the product into the market. The key is to work towards building a community, not just a product. Here are a few questions that we need to ask ourselves – 

  • How do I sell? 
  • Who do I sell to?
  • Who are the decision-makers?
  • How will I figure out various innovative products to achieve increased value from the users?

Punit Soni Healthcare Suki

Customer Discovery Process is easy to carry out when it has been accurately discovered. The easiest way is to spend time with potential users and be in the middle of the people who use the product. Remember, you are a person who knows the least. For Suki specifically, Mr. Punit traveled to large health systems all across the country. While he was uncertain, he realized that the people with the most nuance are the nurses. They are the ones who see the problem at hand and are brutal at feedback. The best way is to go into the market and figure it out. While it may be a process, it is fun when you embrace it!

Methodologies and Framework for customer validation may differ from business to business but some fundamentals remain the same. It is important to be disciplined and measured. If you do not have an answer to who your core user is then you are in trouble. When you understand the difference between catering to the person who is paying and the one who is using the product, your chances of success increase. Finally, put together a small panel of users that are willing to try your idea – let them be critical and ruthless. Get feedback and iterate accordingly. 

The monetary value of your product is as much as the market pays. Come up with a fresh point of view and make your product insights better than the already existing products.

You cannot reach the stage of product-market fit overnight. It is a combination of delight, word of mouth, and giving out a solution. Answer these questions for yourself and analyze if you have reached your product-market fit – 

  • Is the user reaching out on their own and giving a positive reaction? 
  • Are you receiving inbound leads through word of mouth?
  • Is the act of deploying and setting in frictionless?

Mr. Punit may not recommend rebranding but also understands that it may be needed. Taking his own business as an example, he talks about how he started with Learning Motors and then moved on to Robin AI. Due to the issue of numerous hospitals already having an employee named Robin, Suki was decided upon. It was a wake word that was culturally off and not common.

Punit Soni Feedback Quality

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are a few companies that may enter the healthcare market and attempt to practice global domination. However, the difference between these and Suki is that none of these will have a single-minded focus on building a healthcare business. 

The idea for Suki turned out to be one of the many successful ideas Mr. Punit put his mind to. He initially started with an attempt to get an audience. The credit of where he is today goes into a mix of factors. Professionally, it was immense talent. Environmentally, he was onto building something for society. He attached his emotions to Suki and it turned out to be extremely cleansing. Since it was a win-win situation, he decided to implement his idea. 

The ultimate goal of Suki is to make Healthcare tech invisible. Mr. Punit envisions a world where Suki will someday function in rural areas and quickly give a diagnosis of the problem the users face. While India may not be the place to launch Suki, the device will surely get there. 

Finally, Mr. Punit shares his principles behind building one of the finest teams. Integrity, Honesty, Vulnerability are some of the values that make for a perfect team. Practice direct feedback taking and be open in communicating. Treat them as the founding people since they are the decision-makers as well. Finally, give them respect, affection, love, and care since they deserve nothing less.

Mr. Punit summed up the session by naming two books that are a must-read for all entrepreneurs – Hard Things about Hard Things and Shoe Dog. 

In conclusion, when Customer Development and Product Market Fit are achieved together, they have the ability to take your product to the next level! The session was extremely insightful and guided the audience in gaining perspective on how to make the lives of the customers better. After all, companies are collections of people and they are the most important assets that we can invest in.

Contributed By –

Anoushka Chopra

A volunteer at Headstart.