No Customers Yet? You Can Still Demonstrate the Value of Your Solution

Great companies create value by solving problems. Their customers get sufficient value from their solution to be willing to pay for it. Founders often have a strong conviction about the value of the problem they’re solving because they’ve lived it or researched it extensively. They feel quite sure that customers await them on the other side of a solution. This may be less obvious to others. Often, it’s challenging for early founders to convince investors of it when customers don’t yet exist.

Sometimes early founders feel caught in a chicken-and-egg situation. They can’t build or complete their solution without funding. And they can’t demonstrate that a market exists for it—they think—unless it’s in use by paying customers.

Founders should be aware that there are other ways to prove there’s a market for a solution. At the end of the day, what you’re trying to demonstrate is that people are experiencing a problem that they will pay to solve. You can do a prospective-customer discovery call and include investors. They will hear directly from the (future) customer about the problem and how painful it is for them. Hopefully the customer will say they’re looking for a paid solution or that they’ll pay for your solution when it’s completed. Another possibility is having a potential customer send an email saying the same sorts of things. A simple oral or written communication like this can go a long way toward validating what the founder believes.

If you can’t get customers to validate a need with their wallets, consider trying to get them to do it with their voices (or fingertips).