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Advice on Customer Discovery from ChopBox & TeaSquares Founder Jordan Buckner

Photo cred:  DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

Tools for Customer Discovery 

Founder of ChopBox & TeaSquares, Jordan Buckner, explains that success in costumer discovery comes through research, trial-and-error, and collaboration.

Illinois MBA graduate Jordan Buckner is young, confident, and fast-talking in front of a room. One-on-one, he’s warm and approachable, eager to help. Jordan’s success starting ChopBox & TeaSquares obviously stems from his electric get-it-done attitude: Stick to your values; let go of your ego. Fail. Try again. Fail. Try again. Try again. Try again.

He offered invaluable feedback to iVenture 3’s twelve new teams while spending the day at the iVenture space, first presenting on costumer discovery and then giving teams his individualized attention during office hours.

Here is what we learned from Jordan’s advice about customer discovery:

Throw up a simple landing page.

Before you commit time & resources to developing a full blown brand and website, “throw up a simple landing page to gauge customer interest.” You can track hits & include links to surveys about your product or service. The customers interested in your brand just off a simple landing page will most likely reflect your target demographics.

  • Here’s how Betterux.it, a company that provides UX consulting to different websites, did it. Initially they drove traffic to their landing page where they described their UX consulting service, and provided a button for people to click on to pay $10 for a simple UX feedback email. That button led to a customer survey that allowed them to ask customers for key demographic and psychographic information, and triggered a simple project. They eventually built out a broader platform.

Plan a successful Kickstarter campaign.

  • Strategize. “Develop a plan months in advance.” As you’ll see below, a Kickstarter campaign isn’t only about raising funds–in fact, you should have some funds raised before this point. A Kickstarter campaign is an opportunity for reaching customers, receiving important product/service feedback & solidifying you short-term goals.
  • Make it fun. “Create a kickass introduction video, creative assets, and backer rewards.” Make your campaign memorable, shareable, & indicative of your values & voice. People want the businesses they invest in to reflect a piece of them–if you can do this, you’ve got yourself a loyal following.
  • Hustle. “Have family and friends ready to fund 15% of the project at start.” Showing you already have significant support will ease the concerns of any backers who are on the fence. People want to be part of something successful, and only a few are willing to take an early “risk.” Prove to your Kickstarter audience that you already have a stable foundation on which to grow.
  • Promote! “Contact news sites, magazines, blogs to promote before, during, and after launch. Advertise using targeted FB ads, and spam anyone you’ve ever emailed.”  Yeah. You may love or hate this part of the process, but you’ve got to do it. Don’t be shy to show you believe in your own product and service. Make sure people & media outlets know you’re planning a launch so they are prepared to jump into action once the campaign begins.
  • Build. “Have a clear plan for manufacturing/scaling when successful.” Keep the momentum going–deliver your product or service on time. Show your Kickstarter followers that you are worthy of their investment. Investors want to know you are prepared to utilize their money efficiently.

Seek (and carefully consider) Partnerships.

Partnerships can be a great way to either 1.) learn about your target customers or 2.) directly access them.  But partnerships should be carefully considered. Here are Jordan’s questions to ask yourself before joining forces:

  • How strong is your value proposition? You need to be able to articulate it to partners.
  • Will your product be better with a strong partner?
  • Do you have anything to lose?
  • Why should they work with you?
    • Need to sell yourself. If you can help a potential partner address a top-level concern, then there’s a higher likelihood for a partnership.

Focus your hunt: Focus, focus, focus!

Jordan shared a very specific customer profile for TeaSquares–a female, 35-year-old professional with kids who needs a lot of energy for success & cares about her health.

To reach this consumer, TeaSquares sold to key customers like Whole Foods, LA Fitness, Starbucks, Corepower Yoga, Walmart, and office clients at Google, Amazon, and others.

Big clients with huge followings. Sounds focused enough right? Kind of. Now TeaSquares is focusing solely on office clients because they can reach their target customers directly where they are, in their workplace, and they have great social reach. Keep revising and refocusing to get the closest to your ideal consumer as possible.

Good luck!

iVenture Team & Jordan Buckner

Jordan Buckner: “Creating awesome food to make everyday better.” Jordan@myteasquares.com