Talk to 100 Customers Before You Launch

I’ve done it. Nothing will better prepare your new venture for success.

Joel Cannon
4 min readMar 6, 2019
Photo thanks to Mimi Thian

Years ago I found myself out of college, in my older brother’s basement, sitting at a computer on a card table, coding a product I didn’t completely understand but my older brother knew his customers would buy.

In true startup style, my bed was next to the card table.

I was still clearing the college out of my veins and my natural aversion to joining the corporate world (and plan to go to law school the next year) made me an easy startup recruit.

So, I became co-founder and employee #1 (my brother wisely kept his day job until we got some revenue lined up) in what we would eventually grow into a nationwide leader in energy management software & systems.

Today good guidance and wisdom about startup practice are easy to find. Back then, not so much. Today, thanks to the wisdom and dedication of people like Steve Blank, and programs like the NSF’s I-Corps, technology entrepreneurs are learning the importance of talking to — listening to — 100 customers to understand what the market wants.

Yet, long before it was conventional wisdom, I called 100 customers that first summer. This was before wide business use of email, so I made phone…



Joel Cannon

Business formation & development | Servant leadership | Energy tech | Curious nerd