Proven Need

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The concierge service

Dharmesh Raithatha

Product Partner @ Forward Partners

You've interviewed potential customers. You understand their emotions. Now, you can begin. But hold on – that doesn’t mean rolling up your sleeves and spending the next eleven months coding.

Key takeaways

  • Before you build a platform, it's wise to quickly and cheaply test your underlying offer;
  • To do this, you can build a basic landing page that describes what you do;
  • Then, send qualified traffic to it and see how people respond.

Your unique value proposition is the next thing to test.

You need to know whether the thing you do – or the thing you're proposing to do – really resonates with who you're chasing. Ideally, you want to do this while spending as little as possible. Often, the best way to test your unique value proposition is to create a simple homepage that basically says: "This is what we do. If you want it, click a button and do the next step."

What you're looking for is: will people click the button and do the next thing?

For example, with Lexoo, we started out with just a basic homepage and a form. The form said: "Tell us about your legal problem, and a lawyer will get back to you shortly." That was it. Very simple.

The next step is to drive people to that page.

Remember on the lean canvas we made assumptions about our channels? You might have said "I'll use Google Ads, I'll use Facebook". Now is the time to start testing these to see how viable they are. With Lexoo, we bought some pay per click (PPC) traffic and had 40 people fill out the form. Daniel the co-founder would then get on the phone with them and find the right lawyer through his contacts – doing it all manually. This is what we mean by the 'congierge service'. We're proving the model, and learning as much as possible from these first interactions.

The concierge service isn't supposed to scale.

Obviously, as we started to get more people filling out the form it didn’t scale. Daniel himself doesn't scale. So you start thinking, "How can I make this scale?" In the beginning you might get an intern. Soon, the intern starts to not scale – but you can start to see parts you can automate. "Every day, the lawyer sends a quote to me and I'm filling out a little Word doc. Why don't I automate that process, and just automatically send an email to the person?" We learned, for example, that if you could get the quotes within 24 hours, they were more likely to take on the lawyer. So we started looking at ways to encourage the lawyers to get their quotes back within 24 hours.

During the concierge phase, you're constantly learning and gradually growing.

There's no ‘big bang’ moment when you suddenly go ‘now scale up’. You don't suddenly switch from the concierge to a properly coded platform. Going slow and giving your early users the best possible experience makes sure that everything is in place for when you do start to 'turn the tap' all the way.

Useful links

Dharmesh Raithatha

Product Partner @ Forward Partners

Dharmesh is Product Partner at Forward Partners and helps founders the've backed go from ideas to a great products and businesses. He has a passion for User Research, Lean UX and using data to inform decision making. Dharmesh has a background in artificial intelligence and has been doing product for over 12 years in his own or other high profile startups.

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