Open Source

Hacking CustDev: The Open Source Playbook

I need your help.  I am collecting and curating all of the best tactical CustDev hacks in one evolving and growing open-source ‘playbook’.  I am not talking theory of Customer Development.

I am talking boots-on-the-ground, stormin’-the-beach-with-bayonets-fixed CustDev warfightin’ hacks that get the job done.

These hacks run the gamut from finding people to talk with to getting clarity in an interview to methods on validating your idea.  None are always applicable, all have biases and other problems around them, but all are useful for specific tasks.

Here are a few that come to mind (in no particular order):

(I have tried to cite the original source as best as I could.  Undoubtedly, others have done the same or similar things.)


1. The Magic Wand

Ask the subject of your CustDev interview, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would you be able to do?”

Source: Cindy Alvarez


2. Confuse to Clarify

Willfully mis-characterize a interviewee’s opinion to elicit further response in order to keep them talking and ensure you understand their position.

Source:  Sachin Agarwal


3. [Your competition] sucks

Place online ads that say “[*insert your competition here] sucks” that drive users of a competitive product to a landing page for lead generation for CustDev interviews.  Find out why users think that X sucks to help triangulate around unsolved pains.

Source:  Overheard in conversation.


4. The Fake Craigslist Ad

Place an ad on Craigslist selling a deliberately under-priced item.  When interested buyers call to ask about item, bounce questions off of them with regard to their preferences about this type of item.

Source:  Trevor Owens


5. The Real Craigslist Ad

Place an ad on Craigslist offering an Amazon gift card for a phone interview.  Nota bene:  Getting quality leads is harder than it looks.

6. The Magic Word in Emails

Ask for “advice” and clarify you aren’t selling when asking for people to interview.

Source:  Kevin DeWalt


7. Mock-ups and Letter of Intent

Use a mock-up as your MVP and use a signed Letter of Intent as validation before building anything.

Source:  Me.


7. Phone Support

Upon sign-up for your application, ask if the user wants free phone support.  If they affirm, prompt them for phone number and name.

Source:  Dan Martell


As you can see, this is a magical place where hustle meets Customer Development meets social engineering.

If you want to contribute, I’d love to include your best CustDev hack in the playbook.  Email me at hacks at custdev or use the contact tab on my blog.

Once I get a critical mass of these, I will parse and categorize them, followed by posting them on Slideshare.  Anyone who contributes will be attributed as a source with links to your blog/Twitter etc etc.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below.  Thanks in advance.

BTW if you don’t have any hacks to contribute per se — you can help by tweeting/re-tweeting or blogging about this.  Thanks again!