Key Takeaways from Des Traynor’s Talk at Lean Startup Conference 2014

Having the RIGHT conversations is key

Find and maintain product market fit
How many users are using our features and how often are they using them?

Have customer conversations

  • don’t stop asking until you have actionable tasks
  • don’t stop at the first solid conclusion, there will be more
  • Remember: There are always The 5 Whys
  • The solutions don’t always live in code, it’s in our customers’ heads
  • Customer communications often closes the gap between product potential and reality

Always evaluate: Is our problem one of perception or reality?

What is needed?
a) improve the feature
b) get more people to use it
c) get people to use it more


Marketing communicates the gap between the perception of your offering and the reality of your offering.

Often the biggest opportunity for improvements are in changing your customers perception of the product.

Never talk to everyone. NEVER.

Think about WHO you should talk to. Segmentation is key!

If you want to know what makes people upgrade, ONLY talk to people that upgraded.

If you want to know what makes people add team members, ONLY ask people that added team members.

Talk to people at the RIGHT TIME.

Who is the best equipped to give you feedback on your on boarding?
→ people who have JUST signed up.

Very important:
Have a recurring system for feedback (meaning: Always get feedback for onboarding, don’t just have a dedicated project on your roadmap called “feedback for onboarding” that ends on day X. Do it ongoing.)

Talk to people in the RIGHT PLACE.

In the morning, we are getting rid of email, there’s a right way and time and place to ask a ‘money question’. Be conscious about that.

What’s the right place?
Conversations in-app vs conversations via email:
Both have their place. There are trade-offs!

Don’t assume all your users are equal, segment them based on activity!


If you have questions start with the END in mind.

Avoid dead-end questions like “Are you doing X?”, “how many times have you been doing Y?” .
Meaning: Avoid “yes”/”no” questions because after them the conversation is over.


Never couple independent questions:

For example:
Do you eat healthy AND exercise? (well, I do ONE of these)
How do you like our report AND projections features? (these actually are two features)

Be conscious of HOW you ask things

What you want to know → how you should ask about it
Do you exercise? — > In the last week, how much have you exercised?
What could we improve? — > What do you think we should focus on next?

AVOID any hypotheticals like “Would you pay $49 for our product?”

Act on the feedback

If monetization is important, distinguish free from paid feedback.

FREE users generally ask for MORE and NEW features:
“I might upgrade if you do X.”

PAYING users ask for improvements

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