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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the premier legal advisor to technology, life sciences, and other growth enterprises worldwide. We represent companies at every stage of development, from entrepreneurial start-ups to multibillion-dollar global corporations, as well as the venture firms, private equity firms, and investment banks that finance and advise them. The firm's broad range of services and practice areas are focused on addressing the principal challenges faced by the management, boards of directors, shareholders, and in-house counsel of our clients.

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CodigoDelSur is a designer and developer of digital products. Having worked with Founder Institute startups in the past, they come as a highly recommended Founder Institute referral. They are composed of highly skilled software, web, and mobile app developers, who are excited to incorporate the latest technologies into the applications they develop.

Xero is everything you need to run your business financials. Work with a beautiful small business accounting software complete with accounting, invoicing, payroll, inventory and more. Xero seamlessly integrates with over 500+ business apps, including CRM, point-of-sale, time tracking, ecommerce, just to name a few. Join the 700,000+ businesses using Xero in more than 180 countries.

Vet-Tech is America's Veteran-led Startup Accelerator headquartered in Silicon Valley. With over 100 military veteran startups in our community, Vet-Tech's top 20 portfolio companies have raised over $10 Million in funding and have been accepted into world class programs like Tech Stars and Founder Institute.

Startup Weekend


Through the Startup Weekend Fellowship, members of the Startup Weekend Community who want to start a technology company can apply to the Silicon Valley Founder Institute chapter for free, and the best overall applicant will be invited to participate in the Founder Institute's step-by-step startup launch program for free as well.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for the Startup Weekend Fellowship for the upcoming semester, you must complete your application and admissions test by Sunday, December 11th, 2016, using this link.

Grant: The recipient of the Startup Weekend Fellowship will be awarded within 5 days after the deadline.

Click here to apply for the Startup Weekend Fellowship.

Major Key: Know Your Customers Better Than They Know Themselves

Posted by Drew Zias on 2017-04-03

Tech startups are not easy undertakings. Many entrepreneurs spend years of their life and tremendous amounts of money on ideas that ultimately yield no results. While some of these failed ideas are doomed from the start, many others fall victim to a lack of customer learning.

This doesn’t mean that these companies failed to adopt customers’ suggestions immediately, as there is a crucial difference between customer suggestions and customer learning. When customers suggest specific features or changes to a product, these recommendations can be very helpful but they can also be misleading.

Sometimes, customers will suggest changes that they believe will improve their user experience, but actually have the opposite effect. Because of this, it is crucial for startups to understand the underlying motivations and causes behind customer feedback and thereby learn the nature of their interactions with a given product. By doing this, startups can know their customers better than the customers know their own desires. Better than the customers know themselves.

Companies like Amazon have touted programs such as the Anticipatory Shipping which has been refered to by many media outlets as "Knowing What You Want Before You Do", and consequently the idea of deep customer learning has been labeled as a practice undertaken by technology giants. However, tech startups have begun to fight against this perception, with companies like Hava attracting attention because of their adventurous customer learning approaches.

The Hava Case Study

Peter Gatt and James Martelletti, founders of Hava and graduates of Founder Institute: Melbourne, learned this key lesson first-hand while launching Hava, a service that gives customers visual diagrams of their cloud environments. 

The idea to create Hava originated from customer learning and insights. Prior to the founding of Hava, when Gatt and Martelletti were working as technological consultants, they found that many of their customer companies did not have a clear picture of their virtual assets and their cloud environments. Peter Gatt, in an exclusive profile by Artlivemedia’s Michelle Bourke, recalls:

We’d get in there and say, “Hey, show us what you’re running. Let’s get started. Show us the documentation.” Everyone would just look at each other and be like, “Yep, the documentation. Sure.” Even if they had the documentation, or they had anything to show us, it was normally three or four months, or years, old

Fueled by this insight, they got to work and started building Hava. This was a particularly daring task because the Gatt and Martelletti were simultaneously launching another young infrastructure optimization startup, Vibrato. As a result, their time was extremely limited and there was little room for error or customer misunderstandings.

Once the two entrepreneurs had put many work hours into creating a Hava prototype, they quickly made even more key insights about their customers' needs. When an early customer ran Hava’s analysis service for the first time, they made a surprising discovery and sent some heated feedback to Hava:

They ran it for the first time. They had a look and they found some dev environments that had been running for five months at eleven-thousand dollars a month. They looked at us and went, “No, no. You’re application’s broken. We’re not running that.” We’re like, “Just so everyone knows, Hava talks to APIs. It can’t be broken. Everything it tells you is real.” The following day they switched that off, and effectively saved themselves an additional fifty-five-thousand dollars from no one knowing it was there.

Hava had accomplished one of the crowning achievements of the startup world: solving a problem that a customer didn’t even know existed. This was also not an isolated incident, as Hava later came across many groups that weren’t fully utilizing their cloud assets. Hava’s customer insights have proven so valuable that one customer and CEO uses the product’s analytics every morning:

He looks at the environment and says, “Have we spun it up? Why are we doing this now? We don’t need this anyway.” He’s able to look at the return on investment, which is what we really want to do as well because there’s a lot of sprawl

Notice that the pre-product customers did not suggest that the Hava founders create a system to better visualize cloud environments. Nor were customers even convinced that their inability to produce documentation was a major issue. Instead, Gatt and Martelletti connected the dots themselves after closely listening to customer feedback and ultimately created a valuable service that solves a real problem: disjunction, sprawl, and inefficiency in the corporate managing of virtual environments. Hava produced helpful solutions to problems that some customers couldn't successfully identify. All of this goes to show: this is the story of a company that understood its customers' needs better than the customers themselves. 

Hava plans to expand their customer base to over 200 paying customers by the end of 2016, allowing more and more companies the ability to view their documentation in a conclusive and understandable format. All of this began with the insights into the undiagnosed issues of customers, and resulted in a successful product that accomplishes a major key to technological success: understanding customers' issues on a profound level.

Major Key: Know Your Customers Better Than They Know Themselves

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