3 Reasons You Can’t Just Ask Customers What They Want

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Editor’s note: David Mierke is a senior user experience researcher at ÄKTA, a digital user experience product design and development consultancy based in downtown Chicago. 

Do you like apples or bananas? Coffee or tea? Pepperoni or cheese pizza? Simple questions result in simple answers which, when researching and developing a product is every product owner’s dream. “Just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it.” Quick. Easy. Simple.

But herein lies the problem; product development isn’t normally quick, easy or simple. Asking these types of questions, as tempting as they are to ask, bring about certain dangers that can result in skewed results, missing information, and, potentially, failed products. Listed below are the three primary reasons why asking customers direct questions can be a very dangerous endeavor.

The Customer Doesn’t Always Know What They Want

The first reason you can’t just ask customers what they want is that they…

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Radical Transparency And How Buffer Is Changing The Game On Startup Culture

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

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As a social-media focused startup in San Francisco that has raised a few hundred thousand dollars, you might think that Buffer would be Just Another Startup. Instead of being something to forget, however, Buffer is one of the most interesting young companies in technology today.

Unlike other companies of its age that closely guard their financial and product-focused metrics, Buffer is open, sharing its vital signs with the world, almost radically so.

The company publishes a regular report detailing the growth in its userbase, its revenue, total cash position, and more. Every month.

The company also caused waves late last year when it published how much it pays its workers, and the methods by which it came to those numbers. Seniority, role, and incentives based on revenue are used to calculate what each Buffer denizen makes.

Instead of the move causing staffing problems internally, the company…

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Meet ChoiceMap, A New App That Helps You Make Better Decisions

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Making complicated decisions is an emotionally fraught process and (if you are like me) the whole thing can leave you feeling paralyzed. ChoiceMap is a new free iPhone app that helps you break down complex dilemmas into a list of priorities, rate them by how they will affect your life, and then uses an algorithm to score decisions. You can use it for everything from figuring out the future of your relationship to just deciding what to eat for dinner.

It might seem a bit strange to use your iPhone to make the kind of decisions you’d usually talk over with a friend or hash out in your head (or a journal), but there are already several apps out there intended to help you make sense of your feelings. For example, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez recently profiled Feels, which she described as “the pro/con list for the smartphone, emoticon-favoring generation.”

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Oculus VR Raises $16M To Build Their Crazy Virtual Reality Gaming Goggles

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Following up on their massively successful $2.4M Kickstarter campagin, Oculus VR has just locked down a gigantic $16M Series A to help them build the truly amazing Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles.

In case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about the Rift, here’s what you need to know: it’s quite possibly the most exciting thing going on in gaming right now. Packed tight with 3D stereoscopic displays and a fistful of motion sensors, it’s the virtual reality headset that science fiction has promised us for decades. Strap the Rift on your face, fire up a compatible game, and it’s like entering a whole new world.

Still lost? Check out this clip of our own Anthony Ha demoing the Rift at CES:

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As someone who’s lucky enough to have had a Rift strapped to my head at one point: I. can’t. wait. While Microsoft is off shooting itself…

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Swrve Launches Targeted In-App Messaging To Get Games Players Reaching For Their Wallets

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Dublin and San Francisco-based Swrve, which offers an in-app direct marketing platform aimed at mobile games developers or anybody making or responsible for marketing an app, has launched SwrveTalk to enable in-app marketing messages to be sent to users on a targeted and measurable basis. It can be employed to do things like cross-promote other titles in a portfolio or to improve conversion of time-limited in-app purchase offers, and so on.

The problem Swrve is setting out to solve is that in-app messages traditionally involve broadcasting in bulk to a large group of users and therefore don’t discriminate and aren’t targeted on the basis of their likelihood to convert. This, it’s claimed, creates wasted inventory, low response rates, and “increased customer churn due to the over-promotion of irrelevant offers”. In contrast, SwrveTalk messages use behavioural and demographic targeting in an attempt to ensure that only relevant messages are delivered…

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Should You Trust Your Gut? The Answer Is Yes.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Editor’s note: Derek Andersen is the founder of Startup Grind, a 30-city event series hosted in 15-countries that educates, inspires, and connects entrepreneurs. He’s ex-Electronic Arts and the founder of Commonred.

A few years ago I asked a successful entrepreneur for advice on what I should do with my latest product idea. His reply was simple. “Trust your gut. What does your gut tell you?” I confidently replied, “That this is a $100MM business.” To which he added, “Then go for it.”

So that’s exactly what we did. We went for it and a year later we didn’t have a $100MM business or even a $10MM business. We didn’t even have a….ok I’ll stop there. But how did I get it so wrong? Is my gut untrustable? Was I wrong to follow it? Or was my stomach just acting up after a recent trip overseas? I recently sat down with Charles River Ventures Partner 

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