Mar 11Liked by Benjie Holson

"You have to build something they want, not just like."

Or maybe don't like at all. It reminds me of the early automotive industry. When engines started to be small enough to fit on a vehicle like a delivery truck or bus, people absolutely hated them for being so loud, shaky, smelly, etc. But the value was so much better in terms of time and capacity than the horse-driven equivalents of the time, that people just had to live with it. And then, the down-sides were improved over time as makers competed to put out the most polished products.

Maybe too much efforts are spoiled in the pilot purgatory by false hopes that if you make it likable enough they'll want it even if it doesn't save them that much money, if any, rather than the opposite. If it brings them enough value, they'll live with the rough edges and you'll have plenty of time to smooth them out as you grow.

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Feb 15·edited Feb 15Liked by Benjie Holson

The "Real Value, Not Exposure” hits home. I had a great conversation at a manufacturing trade show once with someone who sold collaborative robot arms and system integration services. He kept selling 1 arm or workcell to a large well-funded company and not more. Eventually he realized he was often selling to the "Innovation Team" or "Advanced Applications Team" within a large company, which was an R&D cost center and did not have a good relationship the larger revenue-driving divisions of the company. It was sometimes hard from the team name and title to realize that's what was happening.

The Innovation Team would tell him exactly what they wanted and needed (sounds like great customer input!), and he thought he'd solve their problem... but it was a problem that was mostly good for a demo and helping demonstrate "vision" (how they were evaluated internally)... while not solving real manufacturing problems of the bulk of the company in a viable way. In some of these orgs, the fact that the "Innovation Team" was the one internally demonstrating an application to their manufacturing teams probably made it _less_ likely for the manufacturing teams to buy in (due to some past failure to take concept to reality) vs. if he'd just worked directly with the manufacturing user, though in theory a good advanced applications team would do feasibility filtering and tech transfer...

Maybe one lesson is "if you want to scale a business, it's not enough to ask a customer to tell you what they want... have them prove the need and value to you (and try to arrange follow-up meetings and LOIs at high enough executive levels that you're confident there's broad support to spend $$$ if successful)"

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