LAUNCH teams gathered last Wednesday for their second class on consumer research. Teams presented updates on their work from the past week to their peers and fielded questions from the audience about their businesses. The focus of the week was on understanding customers and conducting customer interviews to create a “persona” for each startup’s target audience. The definition of customer ranged anywhere from nonprofits to startups to Berkeley students, and each team engaged in a feedback-driven discussion on how to hone in on that target.
Mahmoud Hamsho, co-founder of Roadmap, a smart product roadmap service for design and technical projects and one of the teams in the current LAUNCH cohort, said, “LAUNCH has definitely helped us understand what we need to take out of interviews. We did some light interviews at the end of last semester and we could tell the difference between what we did then and what we’re doing now.” Hamsho said that LAUNCH taught the team how to ask the right questions and the importance of the persona, as they “realized how important it is to have a persona because then you can take that persona to the next interview and see if this persona is a recurring thing, or if there is a new persona that is popping up.”
Hamsho and his Roadmap co-founders, Neha Mittal and Conner Hunihan, are all students at the UC Berkeley School of Information. According to Hamsho, the three had been looking into a problem that Roadmap is trying to solve since the end of the fall semester, but the company really only started at the beginning of LAUNCH. Still, Hamsho is optimistic about the team’s growth with the help of his peers in the cohort.
“I really do think the mentorship and the peer feedback is so essential. What you can easily fall into is having this echo chamber, and if you’re just working with two or three people… you’ll go like ‘Yeah I heard the same thing, this is so great.’ Once you’re in these rooms where people don’t really know the product, what you think you know, they kind of start questioning. LAUNCH is amazing in providing the resources and the community to help…I’m not saying it’s necessary to break people’s hope, but you have to be realistic. They tell you that you’re on the right track, but also to think about looking here,” Hamsho said.