• Kemberly Eliscar

Stop Searching The Web For Answers; Go Talk To Your Customers

#UXDesign #ProductDesign #DesignThinking #DesignStrategy

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

As an early stage startup, you have a million things to do but it’s all about focussing on the right things. If you already didn’t know, one of the first things you have to do before building anything is to talk to your customers.

I decided to write this post because the information out there for user research is either too advanced for startups to use (Where the heck am I gonna get Beta customers when I haven’t started building my product?) or too less information(Yes, just go talk to customers and you’ll find your answers. It’s not that easy).

In this series, you’ll learn how to find people to talk to and get the right information for you to de-risk your product.

In this particular post, we’ll be covering

  1. Where do you find people?

  2. What should be the content of your message to them?

  3. Strategy on building the interview pipeline

Where do you find people?

Pre-requisites to any user research is to understand what are you trying to answer. You’ll need to have a problem and/or a solution to the problem and then define who your potentials customers could be.

Start building the pipeline. This might look like a sales pipeline but the fundamental difference is that you are not selling to people, you are just talking to them.

When you have a new product idea/feature in mind, you should automatically think who it is going to be useful for. By betting that this feature is going to make a huge impact on someone in this market, you already know who you have to talk to validate your bet.

At Deane Financial, we targeted growth teams in B2C companies. To talk to them, we used different channels

  1. LinkedIn

  2. reddit/Forums

  3. Email

  4. Conferences


This is the best place to get started as you can search based on the companies you think have the problem or need the solution. Reach out to the people who you think have the problem or will use your solution.

Niche subreddits, Facebook groups, and other forums

reddit is a brutally honest community and you will have to find a subreddit where you will find your potential customers hanging out. The biggest mistake you could do in forums is come across as promoting your product. These are people who are in a forum because of common interests. All you need to do is ask questions you want answers for and if people respond, talk to them separately over email or Linkedin

For example, I asked a couple of questions in the Growthhackers community around the problem statement we were solving at Deane Financial. The people who answered it gave us a sense of what kind of people the problem/solution is relevant and helped us further refine our positioning.


Email is the traditional way to connect with people. Using Clearbit, you can easily find the email address of the person you want to talk to and send them an email.

People tend to usually respond on email, especially if you already have a warm connect.

For example, I had met this person during a sales meeting(which did not go through at that time). I wrote to him later on asking for his feedback over a meeting.


I’m Kemberly, User Experience Designer at Deane Financial where we provide wealth management for Millennials in Tech.

It was great meeting you and your team the other day. We are in the process of designing a new service model and we wanted to validate it with tech professionals like you who may be experiencing some of the problems that we are looking to be a solution for.

I was wondering if you could give us some valuable feedback on the problem we are trying to solve and on the approach we have taken to solve it. If yes- can we meet some time this week for this product validation exercise and have your thoughts?

Would appreciate your help!




Conferences are actually amazing if you can find an event where you think all your potential customers could be hanging out. After some cocktails(if they serve them), you can get super honest answers 😉.

Talk to them about the solution/problem briefly and get their contact details so that you can set up a follow-up meeting later on.

What should be the content of your message to them?

  • List down the tools they use to solve the current job

  • Tell them how it is better

  • Ask them for feedback(People respond better when they are called upon their expertise)

Dissecting the message below,

  1. Talk about the existing solutions(Journey tools)

  2. Talk how it becomes better(Individual journeys)

  3. Ask them for clear feedback

Keeping it short and simple is easy on their eyes and thus bumping up the response rates

Strategy on building the pipeline

Getting users to talk takes time (just like sales), so you’ll have to continue building your pipeline for continuous feedback.

The first thing you have to do is, check if you or your team’s immediate connections match your target users. In my experience, they are the fastest to respond and give feedback. I would suggest building your funnel from the first connects to your most ideal customers. This is because as you keep talking to customers, you’ll be iterating the idea into a wireframe and then into a prototype. So when you get to your most ideal customer, you would have sophisticated questions to ask to further refine your problem statement/solution

Wrapping Up

In this post, we spoke about choosing your ideal customers and working back from there to reach out to relevant folks through different channels. I also gave some examples of how we wrote people at Deane Financial. We also discussed the strategy on creating the pipeline to make the interviews worthwhile.

What we have not discussed(and will be discussed in the future posts),

  1. Planning your meeting(Choose the outcome you want)

  2. How to talk to your user to extract the right information(Different levels of the conversation)

  3. Synthesizing your interview notes for the team to understand(Make sense of what you learnt)

  4. Taking feedback for the next iteration(I always say this is super important for your process and the problem/solution)

  5. Keeping your interviewees engaged(Don’t forget to send a thank you note after meeting them!)

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