MinuteSkill Casestudy: How 50 Customer Interviews Transformed an Early-stage Startup

Nathan Dichter
LeapMotiv

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Through a “Market Validation Workshop” that LeapMotiv (LM) hosted with the TreeFrog Accelerator, we met the founders of MinuteSkill (MSK) — Nathan Knight, Tanika McLeod, and Camilla Castaldo. MSK is a social learning network for early-stage tech founders. They help founders learn on the go with curated, bite-sized videos & an immersive community of founders, accelerators, investors & tech innovators.

MSK was in the early stages of venture creation — figuring out its minimum viable product, positioning, and funding strategy. The team tried various approaches to customer discovery and interviewed 50+ people to gather insights. The value derived from this process underperformed, and in Tanika’s words, was not offering “directional clarity.” MSK clearly understood the value of discovery, although they struggled to put learnings to action and build a proper go-to-market strategy.

Fast forward three months, and MSK was in a better position to seek out a solution to support its go-to-market. Knowing the speed and operational expertise that LM offers, they were eager to begin a pilot engagement.

LeapMotiv helps founders validate and grow their ventures through rapid customer discovery. Our client engagement is split into three phases:

  • Problem discovery uncovers the pain points of specific customer segments
  • Solution validation pre-qualifies prospects into early pilots
  • Market validation scales the go-to-market into a full sales motion

Key milestones from the first discovery call to the first verbal pilot agreement

With the objective of understanding MSK and identifying learning objectives, onboarding was a seamless process. Through our discovery brief, the team outlined its hypothesis, target segment, market research to-date, and assumptions. After reviewing the document, LM created a series of outreach tests to message prospects and an interview template to guide customer calls. Tanika and Nathan reflected on this process, noting that it “forced them into a more structured pattern.”

“More structured pattern” — Tanika McLeod, Co-Founder

This structured approach was applied to the next phase. Applying outreach messages to different channels, we booked 10 interviews in one week. The original hypothesis was to test whether Program Managers at accelerators struggle to engage their start-ups, but after gathering early insights from five calls, we uncovered that this was the right segment and wrong hypothesis. As such, we iterated the hypothesis to reflect how Program Managers measure outcomes.

These rapid learnings continued and we were able to rinse and repeat a series of briefs, amounting to 25 calls in six weeks. After each brief of 10 customer interviews, we presented a synthesis of our learnings, including an ideal customer profile (ICP) and segment analysis (Exhibit 1). Nathan expressed that his “aha moment was seeing how qualitative insights can translate into actionable data.” Tanika echoed a similar aha moment, noting that the call summaries enabled her to see “what it means to understand a group more holistically and to have an analysis across multiple people.”

“ [My] aha moment was seeing how qualitative insights can translate into actionable data.” — Nathan Knight, Co-Founder

Ideal Customer Profile V1 (Exhibit 1)
Segment Analysis (Exhibit 1)

With a clear purview on MSK’s target segment, we shifted our focus to learn how qualified prospects might interact with MSK’s solution and if there is a path forward to launch a pilot. After 2 months of our engagement, we completed 10 demos with qualified prospects and secured one verbal pilot, with five more in the pipeline. In addition, this phase helped inform MSK’s core MVP and determine what features matter most to customers. The MSK team will take over from this stage to sign LOI’s with qualified opportunities.

New learnings: investor material, confidence in decision making, customer discovery skillset

While clear results emerged from this engagement, many auxiliary learnings took place.

Notably, a key takeaway for MSK was how to leverage this market research to raise capital, specifically to “help our investors understand why we’re going for these markets” (Tanika).

Further, by using a programmatic approach to discovery, the team now has more confidence in decision making. Tanika exclaimed that this process led to “decisions that are far more backed by data and that we feel more confident about in a fraction of the time… a month of talking to people versus four months.”

Finally, they will leverage this system to run continuous discovery with their current and new customer base. This alone was one of the most critical learnings for MSK as they appreciate the importance of keeping a pulse on customers and will continue to do so.

“[this research] helps our investors understand why we’re going for these markets” — Tanika McLeod, Co-Founder

As MSK builds its EdTech rocketship by generating high-growth traction, raising seed fundraising, and establishing collaborative partnerships, we will be cheering them on and engaging with founders on the app.

Download MinuteSkill today & join hundreds of startup founders on their journey from 0 to 1.

Get in touch with LeapMotiv here to learn how we can support your start-up’s path to market validation.

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