Four steps to ensure your customer discovery & development efforts result in great products that solve real customer problems

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When building any technology product, one of the most common pieces of advice is “talk to your users.”

But the default way most of us talk to customers and prospects is unscientific and fraught with confirmation bias, putting us in danger of being lied to and wasting months building something nobody wants.

I learned this truth the hard way over the past decade founding multiple companies — but it wasn’t until I was working on my third startup that I came to understand a better way to actually understand users.

“The greatest teacher, failure is”

When I first started building start-ups a decade ago, I never anticipated how applicable Yoda’s wisdom about the value of failure would be as a founder. …

Why Microsoft Excel provides an ideal sandbox for new coders to learn the foundational concepts of coding.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

A near decade ago I graduated from college with no job offers, no technical skills and tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. As the first person in my family to have ever even been to college, I was so focused on graduating that I was completely oblivious as to the skills and experiences I would need to get my career launched and to succeed in the real world. Thanks to non-trivial amounts of luck and the help of one life-changing adjunct professor and his recommendation of me to some colleagues in the San Francisco Bay Area, a consulting firm departed from their norm of 4.0 GPAs and top 10 degree pedigrees to offer me a job. …

How “Browser Wars”, open-source and landmark web apps have unlocked the gates of stagnation and pushed the web forward at current breakneck speeds.

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Right now JavaScript is the most popular language on Github, with far more active repositories than any other language. More importantly, the most frequented web apps in the world have now become increasingly reliant upon advances in JavaScript to drive their primary user experiences and have themselves been the driving forces behind the development of new frameworks and libraries that are pushing the web forward faster than ever before.

However, with this progress has also come increased complexity in the bare-minimum set-up tooling associated with getting up and running with the latest JavaScript technologies. Additionally, it’s becoming increasingly more important to remain up-to-date with the latest new JavaScript language features and compiled languages like TypeScript as they become more coupled with the newest technologies by default. The developer tools are without a doubt better than ever, but it can be a bit overwhelming for someone fresh to web development that just wants to start building real apps without simultaneously learning the layers of underlying build dependencies with JSX, Babel, TypeScript, NPM Scripts and Webpack. …

So your mind is made up. It’s time to move on from your current place of employment. The reasons this time may be different but the result is the same: you’re on the hunt for something better. Regardless of whether it was the long hours, the lack of challenging work or feeling like your efforts at work just aren’t making the impact you want to see, you’re back to square one. …

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Imagine that you’re poking around in your company’s payroll website when you stumble upon a mutable and persistent input field labeled “Market Rate Salary.” You naturally give yourself a 10x adjustment (because you’re that type of engineer of course) and you go about the rest of your day as usual.

Your heart rate spikes as you login to your bank account on payday and sure enough, there is the typical amount you normally get paid… but with an extra zero on the end! Wait what!?! It worked, you’re rich! Or you will be soon if this gravy train keeps rolling. …


Mike Adams

CEO of Grain. 3x Founder (previously MissionU & Degreed). Sign-up for free at

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