Boost Week 2 - Discover Your Customer

One of the wilder things in Boost is the range of start-ups both in development and objectives. Some of the entrepreneurs have little more than great concepts while others are comfortably trading and seeking marketing or funding support to scale-up. 

This is a really positive mix and brings together a wide range of talents and an environment where people can feed off each other’s expertise and all this guided by the Boost Team. So, we enjoyed some of the basic ground work being covered in Boost.

Rule one for start-ups or new products: 

Identify a problem and design a solution! Never try to sell a solution unless the customer can recognise the problem it addresses, and that your pain relief is worth paying for.


Breaking that down a bit – ‘the customer can recognise the problem’ means that you have to identify your customer and test the validity of the problem that you think exists. Doing this process then helps shape or validate your approach and solution. 

Identifying your customer and testing your solution not only helps with your business proposition it also helps you define your marketing strategy. 

Boost call this customer discovery this weeks workshop.

All the Boost workshops start with some pitch practice and interaction. This week’s great strap line came from Katie from Sargasso and Grey.


‘Killer Heels not Heels that Kill’


At Sargasso & Grey our focus is to create luxurious shoes in a more comfortable fit, without having to compromise on style and elegance. Even if you don’t have wide feet, you will benefit from wearing a more spacious shoe to help keep your feet feeling healthy and looking beautiful.

Customer Discovery Workshop

Then we're into the meat of the workshop on how to test your idea with research, survey and engagement. The following sums up some of the Boost hints and what we did.


First write down all your potential customers or segments.

Clearly, if you have a solution for a potentially national problem you need to break down the population into segments and down until you can score the segments;


Score the potential customer groups on;

Do they have the problem?

Do they recognise that they have the problem?

Are they willing to pay to resolve the problem?


Customer 'Persona'

Choose 3 or 4 of the highest scoring groups to develop a more detailed 'persona' so that you can focus further research, surveys and marketing on these groups or sub-segments.

If you are, like we were, taking a national approach for a product then your 'cascade' might look something like ours for people with military links. There's a diagram below so you can see our approach as an example;


We investigated our customer segments and the cascade shows just one ‘branch’ development to the lowest sub-segments.

Problem validation

Having defined the sub-segments, the next stage is to carry out more detailed surveys and research to validate our ‘gut feelings’ about the problem we wished to solve. 

We used research from the Office of National Statistics, Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority, Ministry of Defence and the military charities, surveys and fac-to-face interviews to build one or more ‘persona’: You can see these in the graphic:

Action Man     - Work hard, play hard.
 Prudent Trooper   - One eye on the future.
 Team Leader     -Working for a family future.
 Old Guard     - Onwards and upwards 

You may also want to identify common themes across the sub-segments (the problem to address); for example; “help me get the most from my money” or “help me buy a house”.

Check, Check and re-Check 

Finally, you need to go back to the potential customers and see if you have a consistent view and re-affirm your solution and, if you add some variety into your questions and research you can also get valuable information about your branding, marketing channels, likes and dislikes and much more.  

Indeed, sometimes you may find that your solution is just not the right one, but you identify a new problem that you hadn’t known and can solve!


Finally, this weeks shout out goes to Joseph Flynn of the cool small business iPad EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) system Vestipos who share a desk with us in the Hub and who has helped us out on more than one occasion – he has the same problem with storing his bike as I have getting in. This is good news – NatWest takes security very seriously!

Shout out for Joseph @