Customer Development and Product-Market Fit — Why It’s Critical and Why I Created an Online Course

I’ve taught customer development and lean startup principles for 10+ years and I finally built an online course. Here’s my story.

Customer Development with Jeff Solomon

Cool Ideas Don’t Always Sell

I had a cool idea, that used some cool tech, that I thought would think was cool. I was young. I learned the hard way that just because something is cool, doesn’t mean people will use it — even if they also think it’s cool. That’s the trap. People aren’t good at telling you what they want. So when you ask someone if they think your idea is good and if they would use it, or pay to use it, they will often say yes. But after you launch, they say no.

Building for Product-Market Fit with Jeff Solomon

A Startup That People Actually Need

Eventually, I became bored building other people's products and I had an itch to once again build my own startup. This time I was smarter. Instead of just guessing what people wanted, I did two important things:

  1. I talked to my past customers to see if they had any common needs in the tools I had been building them.
  2. I looked at everything we built over the past 7 years to find common functionality within those products.
I should probably change the thumbnail because Youtube grabbed a pretty corny moment right there 😆

Launching My New Online Course

Today I released my first online video course on Udemy titled Startup Customer Development — Finding Product-Market Fit and I’m pretty excited. I’m excited because I know it’s valuable content. And I’m excited because I know people need it. But I’m also excited because I put a lot of work into it and it just feels good to create something of quality.

Startup Customer Development Course on Udemy

Getting Started

  1. Learning Objectives
  2. Course Introduction
  3. Why This Course?
  4. Why Am I the Right Teacher?
  5. Why are you the Right Student
  6. Course Prerequisites
  7. Why Customer Development?
  8. Case Study — Ouya
  9. What is Customer Development?

The “Problem Hypothesis”

  1. Overview
  2. Case Study — Audiojoy
  3. Start with the Customer
  4. What’s the Problem?
  5. What’s Your Solution?
  6. The Root Cause
  7. Case Study — Toyota

Connecting with Customers

  1. Overview
  2. Talking to Real People
  3. Building an Online Survey
  4. The Survey Questions
  5. Case Study — Markup Hero
  6. Finding People to Complete Your Survey
  7. Example — Quick Dry Clothing
  8. Choosing the Right Facebook Groups
  9. How to Request to Join a Facebook Group
  10. How to Post Your Survey in a Facebook Group
  11. Example — High School Teachers
  12. Review Survey Results and Contact Users
  13. Contact People Quickly
  14. Setup Phone or In-Person Interviews

Preparing for Interviews

  1. Overview
  2. Develop an Interview Framework
  3. Listen, Don’t Talk
  4. Ask Them to Be Brutally Honest
  5. Don’t Be Afraid of Bad News
  6. Behaviors, Not Feedback
  7. Stories, Stories, Stories
  8. Ask Open-Ended and Leading Questions
  9. Drill Down, Dig Up, and Lean In
  10. Parrot Back to Clarify and Expand
  11. Define a Significant “Problem Context”

Conducting Interviews

  1. Overview
  2. Breaking the Ice
  3. Lead with Your Own Story
  4. The Ultimate List of Questions
  5. Common Responses and Misconceptions
  6. Taking Notes
  7. Excuses for Not Doing Customer Development

Validate, Iterate or Pivot

  1. Overview
  2. Compile Insights
  3. Analyze and Evaluate
  4. Revise Problem Hypothesis
  5. Assess Solution Viability
  6. Pivoting vs. Iterating


  1. Recapping Customer Development
  2. Never Stop Learning
  3. Next Steps

What’s Next for Me?

I love customer development. I love startups. I love building software. And I love working with entrepreneurs. So whether you buy the course or just clap for this Medium post (hint), I want to be helpful. I’m working on SaaS application now called Markup Hero. And I’m having a blast again with a crack team of 3.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jeff Solomon

Entrepreneur & 6x founder @velocify @amplifyla @markuphero @audiojoyapps @geekingapp | Teacher. Advisor. Content Creator. Product. Marketing. Startups. Dad.