The Market Readiness Program - Customer First, then Innovation
  • Market Readiness

The Market Readiness Program - Customer First, then Innovation

After the summer, a new edition of the Market Readiness Program will start. The program provides innovative entrepreneurs with tools and handles to enter the market optimally prepared. "Some entrepreneurs develop a new product too much based on their own assumptions about the market.

Expectations were so high. You invested a lot of time and money in developing an innovative product and were convinced that it would be an instant success. But now that you are slowly entering the market, doubts suddenly set in. You notice that it takes a lot of effort to connect the first paying customers. Are the customers I have in mind actually waiting for my bright idea?" you ask yourself.

'Many innovative entrepreneurs will recognize themselves in this,' says Anouk Hummel. 'That's why twice a year we offer the Market Readiness Program, an intensive ten-week program in which we guide them in finding their first customer segment.' Anouk works at NOM as a Business Developer and is closely involved in the Market Readiness Program.

'The program is based on learning how to conduct customer interviews in order to test assumptions about the customer in question and learn to think from the customer perspective,' she continues. 'The participants are given all kinds of handles and tools to work independently with the customer interviews and follow-up steps. They are coached by a business developer or investment manager from NOM.

Pitfall

Well, learning to think from the customer's perspective. That sounds rather like an open door. Isn't that what an entrepreneur always does before putting a product on the market? Anouk nods in agreement, but points out that this is also a pitfall. "We often think we know what the other person wants, and that's human. We think we know the customer's problem and that our innovation is going to solve that problem. It is not easy to let go of your own assumptions. Not for nothing do you often see innovations fail prematurely. Often because there was insufficient focus on market developments and customer needs.'

'Some entrepreneurs develop a new product too much based on their own assumptions about the market. During the program, these assumptions are tested. This means a lot of listening to the customer. What are they really worried about and why? What is the problem behind the problem? And is your product actually the best solution to their problem? Involving your potential customers at an early stage, asking questions, listening and asking questions, that's what it's all about.'

Refreshing insights

So during the Market Readiness Program, you learn to conduct customer interviews and find out in a structured way what the needs are in your first customer segment. At the same time, you test your assumptions, validating the problem and the market. 'The modules also cover issues such as pricing, revenue models, return on investment, setting up sales processes and ultimately obtaining customer commitment,' says Anouk.

'It is an intensive program that requires time and effort from participants. But the feedback we receive shows that, above all, it is very instructive. In particular, the pragmatic nature is highly appreciated. In addition, the fact that entrepreneurs from different sectors participate in the program simultaneously provides refreshing insights. You learn from each other's mistakes, successes and motivate each other.'

It is not easy to let go of your own assumptions. Not for nothing do you often see innovations fail prematurely.
Anouk Hummel, Business Developer

Valuable

The Market Readiness Program is designed for innovative entrepreneurs who want to enter the market soon or have been in the market for a while, but are struggling to connect with new customers. 'It is especially valuable for entrepreneurs who are looking at their product very much from a technology perspective and are now about to start making their first sale,' says Anouk. 'But it can also be interesting for the further strategy definition of your company and for entrepreneurs who, for example, want to raise funding for the further development of a prototype. A good market validation strengthens the investment proposition and gives an investor confidence that there is 'a market' for the product.

Also interested in participating?

When will the next edition of the Market Readiness Program launch? Expected next fall. Interested entrepreneurs can then register for the program through Anouk Hummel or through the NOM website.

Kaat van de Vyver, founder 4D Medical from Groningen

Kaat van de Vyver, founder 4D Medical from Groningen

The program has made our business plan much more and better founded.

'With 4D Medical, we focus on digital health solutions for horses. For example, we have developed a new medical sensor that can prevent injuries in elite sport horses. We are in the prototype phase and wanted to investigate how we can best position the product in this niche market. Hence our participation in the Market Readiness Program'.

'Of course, I had done quite a few interviews before that to find out the customer needs. But I noticed that I needed to structure those interviews better to bring the problem and the desired solution into sharper focus. The program helped me enormously with that. The most important lesson? That everything starts with the potential customer and that you have to keep asking questions to get the actual problem clear.

'Initially, we wanted to sell the new sensor to veterinarians. Through the Market Readiness Program, however, we found out that it would be better to concentrate on stable owners. Simply because the problem is more urgent there. In short, the program has made our business plan much more and better substantiated.'

Victor van Saltbommel, owner Huberts' Food from Meppel

Victor van Saltbommel, owner Huberts' Food from Meppel

The Market Readiness Program was a perfect fit for the phase we were in

'Malnutrition among the elderly is one of the main problems in the healthcare sector. Currently, over 20% of the elderly in Dutch healthcare facilities are malnourished. With this problem in mind, Huberts' Food has developed artisanal ice cream enriched with 10 grams of protein per serving. This is because the recommended amount of protein per kg of body weight is greater in the elderly than in other adults, especially when they are recovering from illness or surgery, for example. However, finding a first paying customer proved to be quite a challenge. The Market Readiness Program was therefore a perfect fit for the phase we were in.

'The healthcare sector is quite conservative and you have to deal with different decision makers. That's where the added value of the program lay for us. You learn to put yourself even better in your target group's shoes and to investigate step by step what really concerns them. By sharing experiences and sparring with each other, you also learn a lot from your fellow participants. A lot has happened since we went through the program. For example, we now have a pilot production on a larger scale and we are close to an agreement with an investor.'