Using Feedback to Change Your Thinking

(Eric Halsey) #1

“When you get feedback people are telling you exactly how your solution should solve their problem and it’s important to hear that.”
-Nanachi Agyeman-Prempeh, Co-founder of Asoriba, MEST Incubator

We’ve already learned about how important first customer contact is. That’s the moment your ideas about how your business works and what your customers want meet reality. Here, two west African entrepreneurs improved their businesses by focusing on getting feedback and quickly using it to make changes in their business.

##Using Feedback to Adjust Scope

“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, it would save us a lot of time and money.”
-Ayo Adigun, Founder of FlexiPay and DAA STEM Academy, Africa Prize 2015

Ayo Adigun started off with an idea of what his Point of Sale (POS) transaction system could do. But he understood that this idea was going to change once he began building it. That process in many ways began with conversations with banks about what they would need from his system. Before he encountered the users of his system, his first customer contact was those meetings with banks.

“From speaking to banks, we got a list of requirements that they needed before they could buy from us. A lot of it was around international specification and when we started researching those specifications, we became aware of the huge costs involved in terms of money and development time. So, we started looking around to see what ways we could address that, and as a result we approached a semiconductor manufacturer in the US who had ready technology. And this saved you some money because they had it already.”
-Ayo Adigun, Founder of FlexiPay and DAA STEM Academy, Africa Prize 2015

It was quickly made clear that building his system from scratch was going to be enormously expensive. This customer contact told Ayo that he needed to find another solution. Fortunately, a US manufacturer could do it for him. So he quickly adjusted the scope of his business and focused on where he could excel instead of needlessly “reinventing the wheel.”

“Even with talking to them, we realized there’s still some capital required for the initial setup and that just gave us a bit more focus, so we know what we need to go do, to be able to make the project work.”
-Ayo Adigun, Founder of FlexiPay and DAA STEM Academy, Africa Prize 2015

##Using Feedback to Understand Your Market

“In our case, we talked about what we had, the problems we knew existed in churches and how the solution could solve them and then you make room for questions. The questions is the point that you really know that the people need it. When they start asking your questions like, are there levels of access where I can give my associate pastor a certain access to certain portions of the software and not certain portions. Can I do financials? Can I print my entire member list? Can I do A,B,C?
Then you realize the client is being very specific because he has a clear need in the application, he wants to see it do something. That was clear validation for us.”
-Nanachi Agyeman-Prempeh, Co-founder of Asoriba, MEST Incubator

Nanachi, or Nana, knew the importance of customer feedback from the beginning. So he started by making sure that all of his meetings with potential customers had built in time for them to ask questions. The questions that were asked were hugely important in validating elements of his business idea as well as telling him what he needed to change.

“We knew everything was important but what is the most critical for our market. It’s exciting to know that we actually discovered even how to go to market, so we could break the market in two. We had the mega churches and the small churches. A pitch through a small church from our initial validation point we realized that should be different from a mega church.”
-Nanachi Agyeman-Prempeh, Co-founder of Asoriba, MEST Incubator

But there was another benefit. Nana also learned that small and large churches (his customers) had very different needs. So his initial idea of a one size fits all product evolved into a segmented product targeting those two groups.

“A small church is thinking about how to really integrate and being in touch with all its members, that is key to him, so that he can retain his members and grow. And so you pitch in that mobile app which allows members to receive content and easily communicate. But for a large church, its pain point is being able to oversee all the branches they have, get reports from them and know how they are performing and that is the pitch for them.”
-Nanachi Agyeman-Prempeh, Co-founder of Asoriba, MEST Incubator

Without feedback and listening to it, Nana would not have been able to understand his customers and evolve his business in response to them. Ultimately, both Nana and Ayo put customer feedback and an open mind to changing their thinking in response to it at the core of how they run their businesses.