Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

Opinion

Entrepreneur lesson #3: Customer interest is no evidence of buying intent

Reading time: 4 minutes

One of the largest frustrations of startups trying to work with big enterprises is the enormous amount of false positives. Many startup founders have fallen into the trap of getting promising feedback from individuals from large companies and believe that they’re close to getting a deal in place. This positive feedback may continue for a long time, but the actual contract never materializes. There are many reasons why this happens, not the least that orchestrating an actual contract with an outside party is quite an uphill battle in many companies, but it’s a good reminder to make sure that, as a startup founder, you don’t allow your team to chase ghosts.

With some of the researchers I worked with I’ve experienced something similar. Some research results received enormous interest from companies, large and small, on industrial conferences to the point that we had hundreds of people in presentations and tons of positive feedback. When we then decided to commercialize the technology, the initial interest vaporized quickly and it turned out that although people were interested in the idea behind the technology, there was no willingness to actually buy the solution.

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