Why Discovery Is Key to Startup Success

What good is the latest, greatest product or service if the target customer thinks it’s too confusing, too cumbersome, too expensive, or just not beneficial enough to bother with? Easy answer, right? The company that developed that “solution” probably won’t stay afloat too long. This is why the discovery process is so important. To make sure there isn’t a major disconnect between customer needs and the product or service offered, entrepreneurs should get out there and talk with potential users or consumers. That way, they can learn their challenges, needs, and wants, as well as show them the product or idea, listen to their feedback, and incorporate it when applicable. Food and ag entrepreneurs can do a lot of discovery at farmers markets, festivals, food trucks, and other early-stage selling venues. By tracking who stops by and who buys, and by asking them about their family, hobbies, and what they like or don’t like about the product, they can get the persona of their target audience and what draws them in. For food and farm entrepreneurs looking to launch a service or technology, the discovery process is perhaps even more crucial. It certainly was for our latest Edible-Alpha® podcast guest, Matt McCoy, as he developed Field to Freezer, an app-based software solution to streamline wild game and domestic meat processing. Matt says spending sufficient time in discovery is critical to figuring out a minimum viable product, the cost to execute it, and the next steps. Here are some key benefits that come from a solid discovery process. Learn your customer base. Discovery allows entrepreneurs to really get to know the people or businesses that they hope will buy the product. This must go beyond friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to include folks who will give honest feedback. For instance, Matt learned that while meat processors are down-to-earth and wear their heart on their sleeve, they are typically adversity to technology, “so we made sure we didn’t overbuild our product or add features before the market is ready for them.” Educate your target market. With tech solutions especially, it may not be outwardly clear to target consumers why the product is necessary or how it could help. But in discovery, food and farm entrepreneurs can sit down with people, meet them where they are, and walk through the benefits. Gather and implement feedback. During Field to Freezer’s discovery phase, Matt showed processors paper sketches of his idea before building the actual software. Along with making his solution more approachable to this group, it also made it easier—and cheaper—to tweak things based on their feedback. Through his past software experience, Matt knew that being flexible and unafraid to make changes would be key to success. Figure out pricing. Discovery is also the time to hammer out a good price point based on conversations with target users. If the product is priced too high for them, it won’t matter if it’s awesome—they won’t buy.   Gain confidence in your idea. Hopefully, when doing discovery, entrepreneurs will get lots of positive feedback and see potential customers get excited about the product. This can reassure them that they’re on the right track and give them more confidence to move forward.


Software developer and avid deer hunter Matt McCoy saw inefficiencies in small-scale meat processing, so he created an app-based solution to benefit processors and their customers. In this podcast, he shares how he built Field to Freezer from the ground up, from doing robust discovery to launching the product to now seeking investment. Matt’s story will educate and inspire fellow entrepreneurs wanting to deliver a technology or service for the food or farm sector.

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