Editor’s note: Chris Heivly co-founded MapQuest (which sold to AOL for $1.2 billion), was sole managing director of 77 Capital (a $25 million venture fund), and has been an executive at five software companies. Currently, he is one of two managing directors of The Startup Factory in Durham. A national writer and speaker about startups and startup communities, Heivly is also the founder of the Big Top Job Fair.

DURHAM – Every single startup founder and every single startup company is searching for one thing and one thing only – a business trend. The problem is every one attaches different definitions to this critical yet elusive notion.

When you have found a trend, you will have some level of validation that either your product/service has found a fit or that your sales efforts are paying off. (Careful of that false positive, though.)

This week I had the opportunity to hear a good pitch from a couple of young entrepreneurs. They exhibited passion, intellect, and a healthy understanding of what they wanted to accomplish. But they failed on one very simple answer; the answer to how many target customers they had talked to.

In this case, their challenge was even greater as they are creating a two-sided market so that question needed to be asked twice.

If you are a fan – and you should be – of the Lean Startup principles with special emphasis on Steve Blank, you will have heard that you need to go out and talk to 50 customers. That is BEFORE you start developing your product or service. Spending too much time inside your own head is really bad for business building. I like to say that when you are the only one in the decision room, every decision appears to be perfect.

There’s much more. Read the full post at:


(C) Chris Heivly