In startup methodology, the first thing teams do once they have their initial business concept is Discovery.
This is a process of in-depth interviews with potential customers which serves a dual purpose. One, it guides the development of the business concept, and two, it informs how that concept fits into the particular market they are looking to address.
It is both art and science.
The art is asking questions that illuminate problems potential customers have; this provides insight to the solutions that would resonate with them.
The science is talking with enough people – and doing it in a systematic way – to test the basic hypotheses of their product or service and how it fits into the market.
At Gain Compliance, we have embraced this methodology since our founding. Starting in June, 2016, we focused Discovery on insurance carriers’ financial reporting teams around the statements filed through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the NAIC). In fact, we didn’t write a single line of code for the first six months. Rather, this was a period devoted entirely to research – one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and, in some instances, embedding with financial reporting teams to learn the nuances of this particular set of compliance filings.
The process illuminated numerous and varied pain points statutory reporting teams experienced. The common cause was outdated software (a good sign for a company looking to enter the market with modern software).
For example, the process revealed challenges around the Notes, a section that required a series of manual, time-consuming tasks to complete. The Notes provided our first opportunity to showcase how modern software could fundamentally improve outcomes for statutory reporting teams.
This naturally transitioned to the second kind of Discovery. This is a process of ongoing interviews focused on the constructive feedback that drives iterative software design and development. (In fact, check out prior posts about the art and science of Gain’s ‘Customer Led Software Design’ approach.)
Gain’s 2018 release of our a la carte Notes solution was a milestone for both the product and our company. By solving that acute pain point, we won our first customers and began to grow.
Done well, software product development is a virtuous cycle: in our case, once Gain achieved initial product-market fit with Notes, we won our first customers, who gave us great feedback and product ideas, which then led focused product improvement, which resulted in winning more customers who provided even more feedback, which catalyzed our product development process, which led to an even-better product, which resulted in more sales, and so on…
Both kinds of discovery played an important role in differentiating Gain from our competitors, allowing the company to move quickly from its startup stage to its growth stage.
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