Follow up 4th Lab: Validate your POC

On the 1st of February, OCI LAB Online incubator hosted the forth online lab: “Validate your POC/Customer validation” with the assistance of OCI Lab Mentor Dr. @Wajdibr an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Carthage.

During this lab, Dr.Wajdi gave a detailed presentation illustrated by various examples to help a project leader validate their proof of concept (POC) having their customer validation.

Around 5 p.m, the participants were asked by the moderator @khouloud.ouesleti to do the check-in as usual via the zoom conference room by writing their full names, countries, and projects in the chat channel.

At first, Dr.Wajdi started by highlighting the importance of customer development as it is about “putting the Founders in continuous contact and engagement with customers.” according to Steve Blank. It is defined as a four steps framework:

  1. have identified a need(s) that customers have,
  2. built the right product to satisfy that customer’s need(s),
  3. tested the correct methods for acquiring and converting customers,
  4. deployed the right resources in the organization to meet the demand for the product.

Mainly, the customer development process is an iterative approach that leads to an execution phase.

Knowing that customer discovery allows the project leader to turn hypothesis into facts which is a basic step.

Moreover, he displayed a list of DOs and Don’ts of how to proceed with the customer discovery phase. Making surveys, questionnaires, market study, and depending on your own experience isn’t an effective way. Indeed, you should observe the customer, and put yourself in the customer’s shoes and assure interviews to get insights and the deep motivations behind their behavior.

There are two types of interviews: One to assess the problem, and the other is to evaluate the strength of the proposed solution. As for the questions, it ought to be detective questions that are also open-ended and nonspecific about your idea.

Concerning how to talk to the users, Mr.Wajdi introduced the concept of “Mom Test” which is a set of simple rules for crafting the right questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about.

As for the most efficient methods for conducting an interview, it’s preferred if it’s in person, a video conference, or a phone call.
Next, he shared a few best practices concerning the customer interview:

  1. Adopt a beginner’s mindset
  2. Listen more than you talk
  3. Get facts not opinions
  4. Ask “why” to get real motivations
  5. Remember: the goal is to learn, not sell
  6. Don’t mention solutions too early
  7. Follow up
  8. Always open doors at the end

Last but not least, he stated that the answer to the question: “ Who to ask?” are early adopters and early evangelists defined by Steve Blank as the following: “Early-Evangelist are Early adopters of your product/service “willing to take a risk on your startup’s product or service because they can envision its potential to solve a critical and immediate problem—and they have the budget to purchase it.”

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "earlyvangelist"

As for where to find people to interview, it can be through social media, fairs, exhibitions, shows, conferences…etc

Finally, he explained how to debrief by focusing on key-insights regarding research objectives and implications for future interviews.

Offline tasks: here
Lab’s material: thepresentation & some resources

Q & A

Q: @saif.eddine.laalej
Should we focus more on the customer or the end User?
A: It depends, the end user sometimes is not the one who’s going to pay for the product/service, but they may be important in making certain decisions. It still depends on your product/service you’re selling.
Q: @Mohsen
Should we talk to them about our competitors?
A: It’s not really interesting to talk about your competitors at this certain phase.
Q: @saif.eddine.laalej
Should we sell the product or the story behind ?
A: No, not at this stage. For now, you should try to figure out if you have an actual problem and see if you can solve it. The story behind is useful if you are talking with early evangelists.
Q: @ayari.taha
I will have a meeting with the board of my clients, shall I present to them the technical side of the project?
A: No , this is what you should not do, just talk abt the value proposition and focus on how to solve the problem.


Dear all,

I was very pleased to meet you yesterday. I would like to thank @khouloud.ouesleti for the good job she did in moderating the lab.

This lab is one of my favorite because if your reach this stage in the process that means that you have put one step further in the startup creation process and you will start to get evidence from your market and customers.

Since you have already sketched your key hypotheses, defined your value proposition and prepared your lean canvas, it’s time now to turn guesses into facts.

This is why we are talking about customer discovery and customer interviews. There are 2 types of interviews: one to test the problem and one to test the solution. In all the cases you should adopt a detective mindset and pose questions that would help you to understand the deep motivations / concerns / pains / incentives of the customer in order to test your riskiest assumptions. So please, no surveys, questionnaires, focus groups at this stage!

You should do the interviews on your own instead of relying on consultants or employees because you are the one who got the idea, you have to listen to the customers because you may have insights that the problem is not relevant or the solution is not interesting for the customers and if it’s done by someone else, you might disagree with the results thinking that the consultant didn’t do his job correctly and you proceed and this is a big mistake or the employees could do it wrong because this is not their idea and they are not the entrepreneurs. So you should take the bull by the horns and do it yourself because if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!


Posing the right questions is very important to get validated learning from your customers and avoid subjective answers. This is why you should avoid doing customer interviews with your family and friends and you should ask the right questions that prevent even your mom can’t be subjective in her answers.

You should also adopt a beginner’s mind and avoid jumping too quickly to the solution or showing the customers powerpoint presentations or demos.

Here’s the link to a very good video on the common mistakes in customer interviews and how to do it right. I recommend that you watch it :

You should also put the customer at ease and let him talk and lead the conversation. So listen more than you talk, use active listening and ask follow – up questions: Why? Why? Why?..

How many people you should talk to?

Sometimes you can get good results from just 4-5 customer discovery interviews. If, after 10+ interviews, findings have not converged, your customer segment may be too fuzzy.

Some experts consider that you should keep interviewing until you no longer hear things that surprise you, which often takes 15-20 interviews. Ask for 5 minutes (consumer / B-to-C), 20 minutes (B-to-B).

As usual we had interesting questions from the participants. Some of them have been already mentioned by @khouloud.ouesleti . You still can ask me questions if you would, using this thread.

Thank you again for your time and attention. I wish you all the best with your startups and future endeavors.

@HadeerGhareeb , Egypt, Didi-Asks - khadija Ouabdelmoumene, Morocco, @Alphawomen - @salaheddine Ogontayo, Tunisia, Identity Co. -
@sirine_bouslama , Tunisia, Datascience Academy - @ayari.taha , Tunisia, Artificial intelligence for alzheimer’s and dementia predicition - @MohsenMahdaoui ,Tunisia,PaillEco - @saif.eddine.laalej Morocco, Zelij Invent - @mohamed75 , Egypt, colex - @HIBA Sedouane, Morocco, diyafa - @Labiedzayneb -