Rate of customer validation is the best indicator of #napkinStage success

When you have an adviser or two on board, I would recommend a monthly check-in with your advisory deck to actually get advice. Since no amount of expertise and knowledge the adviser has will replace your daily “living” and “breathing” your startup, you will have to brief them on key accomplishments and a view of the “trees”. If you have chosen the right advisers, hopefully they will help you see the forest from the trees.

The biggest challenge is showing “early momentum” and traction. Most traction falls into 2 buckets – product or customers. Side note: When you are a larger company there would be many buckets that are news worthy – funding announcements, partners, awards, hiring, event attendance, etc. but, at the napkin stage, only product updates and customer updates are valuable.

In terms of product updates, changes, modifications and new features (including design updates) are worthy of putting on your monthly advisory update. The best updates I have seen as an adviser are those that are related to changes the product based on feedback from potential beta customers, especially if the feedback results in the customer willing to pay for the product.

The second set of updates are around customers. In this particular case, activity is an early indicator of traction, so I would try and focus more on trying to use as many referrals from people you meet to get introductions to other customers.

A trick that I have seen several people use effectively is to focus on getting 2 customer meetings or demos each day for the first 3-6 months during the customer validation phase.

The rate of early customer validation is the best indicator of early success is what I have found.

The rate of early customer validation is the total number of “prospects” or “Customers” you talk to in a given time period. So, the more customers you get a chance to talk to in 2 weeks, versus another competitor who talks to fewer customers in the same time period, the better are your chances of determining problem fit.