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How to find out what your audience wants through customer discovery



October 3, 2019


So you’ve got it! Your Big Idea. 

You’ve told your friends and family, you’ve bought a domain, you’ve designed the website, and even changed your LinkedIn job description to that coveted “Founder” title. You’re ready to launch this business and see your idea revolutionize the world. Yet, the night before your launch, you’re tossing and turning in bed with one dreaded question circling your brain, attacking your will to sleep:

“What if no one even wants this product?”

Here’s the truth.

You won’t ever completely get rid of this feeling as a founder. With the release of every new product line, feature, or service, it’s common to feel a bit nervous. But, you can put your mind a bit at ease by spending some time on this important step: Customer Discovery.

Customer discovery is a process in which you are investigating if your idea or solution is validated by the market. At IFundWomen, we encourage founders to approach this process much like a scientist would: 

Step 1) Identify your assumptions (the market need & problem)

Step 2) Write your hypothesis (your idea or solution)

Step 3) Test the market with a study or survey

There are several ways to conduct the customer discovery process. You can schedule focus groups, conduct 1:1 interviews, send out surveys, or conduct observational behavioral studies. 

Your goals are: 

  • To find out what your audience wants (market need)
  • To find out how you can improve on the current situation
  • To find out if your solution can provide value
  • To find out if your audience will pay for that value

The results will be:

a) your hypothesis is validated and you move forward with implementing your solution or

b) your hypothesis is disproved and it’s time to pivot or abandon the idea altogether. 

So, what questions should you ask exactly? We’ve put together a list of 17 customer discovery questions we encourage founders to ask before they launch a new business. Feel free to modify these based on your product or service. Be sure to leave as many of these questions as open-ended as possible and avoid leading your audience to your desired answers. Read more about how to avoid leading questions

*Task is interchangeable with desired action, product, or service. 




Questions you want to ask to fund your audience’s current pain point  
motivation & need state:

You’ll want to leave these rather open-ended so your audience can give you as much detail as possible. Follow up as many of the questions as possible with “why?” Read more about the 5 why’s process

  1. Why do/don’t you do this task?
  2. When do you find yourself needing to do this task?
  3. How often do you do this task? Why not more often? Why not less often?
  4. How does accomplishing this task make you feel? Why?
  5. How important is it that you accomplish this task? Why?
  6. What happens if you don’t accomplish this task/take this action?


Questions you should ask to find out about the current process and competition:

  1. How do you currently accomplish this task?
  2. What’s missing in your current process that would help you achieve this task (faster, cheaper, more efficiently, with less effort, etc.)
  3. Have you ever used any of [insert competition] before?
  4. How does this product improve your life?
  5. What are the 5 most important things this [service, app, product] allows you to do? Rank them 1-5 (5 being the most important) in order of importance to you. 
  6. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being very likely), how likely are you to recommend your current product/process to your friends or family?
  7. What would get you to change your current process?
  8. If you found a product/service that offered [insert the value of your idea], would you be interested in using it? Why or why not?


Questions you should ask to fund out about pricing sensitivity:

  1. How much do you pay for your current product/service?
  2. If there were a product/service that accomplished [insert value add here], how much would you expect a product like this to cost?
  3. What would the new product need to add in value for you to consider paying a premium?


Obviously, there are 100 ways to ask these questions. As you build your business, this will be a process you repeat several times across a variety of audiences and with a variety of hypotheses to test. Your goal with customer discovery is to LEARN if your solution actually fits the market need and inspires people to adopt it, before sinking any money into the product’s creation. Ultimately, this process can save you time, money, and many sleepless nights. Now, go forth and learn!

Want a startup coach to walk you through setting up your own customer discovery process? Sign up and book your first session with one of our coaches here.