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If you want to launch a startup, you’ve hopefully identified who your users and customers are and have hopefully kissed at least five frogs. You’re on the way to understanding who will use your software development product and how your idea fulfills a sufficiently significant gap in the market.

It’s time to get into some more depth now – to actually meet your users face-to-face, look them in the eye and listened to their point of view. Going to these lengths is crucial to demonstrating a genuine understanding of users and fully verifying your business plan.

Any potential investors into your startup will need to see this understanding and see clearly that you have a significant grasp of your target market and your users. So show that you’ve found them, bought them a coffee and asked them all the right questions:


  1. Talk to people you don’t know and have never met before
  2. Ask them about the pains and frustrations they face
  3. Get them to tell you a story


  1. Ask what they ‘like’ or ‘want’. You’ll get yourself into a situation where people just agree with you
  2. Rely on too small a sample
  3. Do it exclusively by email

Show how pains are relieved AND gains are created

If you want to take your idea to the next stage, and potentially get some funding, it isn’t enough to have a product that only relieves the negative pain that users experience. Go the extra mile and identify some positive gains that the user desires, and facilitate the creation of these.

1. Identify Pains and their corresponding Pain Relievers. For example, pilots learning to pass their civil aviation licenses spend lots of their spare time travelling to and from training centres. With new software, they can sit courses and examinations online.

2. Identify Gains and their corresponding Gain Creators. For example, pilots using the e-learning software can benefit from the experiences and tips of other students. A feature of the software product could be a searchable ‘community’ knowledge base. This exercise should reflect how well matched your software development idea is to its intended market. You can underline this by documenting some of the false pain relievers and gain creators that won’t succeed.