Allan Isfan is a co-founder of FaveQuest, a young start-up. This blog covers start-up topics.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Paris and the secret to Success

A great guy by the name of Peter Kemball (CEO, Acorn Partners) reminded many of us in attendance at a Codefactory function that the key to success is this: test the market soon and test it often.

With that in mind, I've been taking every opportunity to meet with a large number of customers in as many industries and locations as possible. The intent is not just to close deals but to listen and learn.

If there is anything that this financial crisis should make us realize is that we are a truly global economy. With a complete disregard for borders between countries, we therefore brought in a very sharp biz dev guy in France to help us scope out opportunities in Europe. Our arrangement is such that we share in the success if something comes to fruition (I'll leave it that).

He was able to uncover a potentially very significant opportunity with more in the wings and I flew over to meet with the customer last week (I used aeroplan points and stayed with family .... I didn't say you have blow a fortune:). It went very well but even more important is that we better understand their needs and we have a made a personal connection. Furthermore, we learned some very valuable things about the market, and that customer in particular, that allows us to tweak our offer and really meet their needs much better.

Similarly, someone recently offered to do something along the same lines in India. No trip yet ... that one is a bit tougher on my budget but if the lead is well qualified, someone's gonna talk face to face with that customer.

The message is really this: don't assume anything! Go talk to a large variety customers immediately and don't let artificial borders stop you. I know .... we were way off the mark when we started and would have build something useless.

I would love to hear your crazy travel stories about going across the world for a 1hr meeting. Was it worth it? Could you have done it over the phone? Don't be shy!


Allan Isfan

ps. If you want to know where to get good crepes and free wifi in Paris, I've become an expert

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