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I am playing a game. My goal is to interview 10 innovators every week as part of my new book project. Each time I learn something, but every now and then I hear a story that opens up an entirely new perspective.

This happened to me yesterday, sitting in my car, outside of the gym. I had the car running to stay warm, my gym bag in the back, as I was speaking to Nick O’Connor, founder of LaunchPad Accelerate. Nick is a disciple of Steve Blank and has taken the “lean startup” approach into companies like Citrix Startup Accelerator, SanDisk Business Accelerator, Ericcson, and AT&T.

But he started out working with startups like Roominate Toy, a company founded by two women who met at Stanford University and wanted to create a toy that would inspire girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Nick worked with them to apply the “lean startup” approach, and it could work for your business or project as well. Here’s how it works. You develop a hypothesis of who your core customer is, what their needs are, and what unique value you can bring to them. Then, you test this hypothesis through interviews, observing people using your prototypes and testing concepts online to see how the community responds. You need to talk to hundreds of customers. You need to go deep. You need to pull together your insights and change your hypothesis.

Now the Roominate team originally had a logical hypothesis. They figured that the use case scenario for their products would be a parent buying an expensive toy for their child. But as they began talking to parents and children and the other stakeholders around them, they realized that the market opportunity for this scenario was too limited. Parents might only make a purchase like that once or twice in their child’s life.

But by being there, surrounded by potential customers, speaking to them, understanding their lives, following them into their houses and seeing where they lived and how they thought, they came across many multimillion-dollar insights.

One of those insights was that instead of just creating something that parents can buy only for their children, they would create something that parents would also buy as birthday gifts for their children’s friends. I know, as a father, that we buy many more toys for that scenario and we do for the first.

The total addressable market for this scenario – toys as birthday gifts – is many times larger.

Now, they probably would never have considered this other use case if they hadn’t been interviewing children, parents, teachers, and everyone around them.

Here is what I think you (and I) need to do. You need to make speaking to and testing hypotheses with customers and prospects a constant core activity. Next week, interview 10 customers/prospects, then ramp that up to 15. Aim to interact with at least 100 each quarter.

Get together with your team to share what you’ve learned, and address your hypotheses about who your customer is, what their core need is, and what unique value you can provide them.

In the faster-paced world in which we compete, we can no longer follow the traditional model of doing the customer research, defining the strategy, and executing. Instead we must continually learn and evolve our strategy.

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?