A customer consultation Board (CAB) can be an invaluable resource for startups, but many founders find it difficult to put together the right group of consultants and create incentives. At our theinformationsuperhighway early stage event, Saam Motamedi, General Partner at Greylock Partners, spoke about how he thinks about putting together the right CAB.
"We encourage all of our early stage companies to do this," said Motamedi. The goal is to speed up the process to achieve a product / market adjustment as your CAB gives you regular feedback.
“The idea here is that you have this feedback loop from customers back to the product you are building in, you get feedback, you iterate – and the tighter this feedback loop is, the faster you will get to product market adjustment. And you want to take structural measures to narrow this feedback loop starting with a CAB. "
Motamedi said a CAB should consist of three to six customers. These should be “lights or thought leaders” on the market that you serve. "You add them to the CAB – you can give them small consultancy grants – and they become stakeholders and give you feedback as you work through the early stages of product development."
For the people you have included in the CAB, Motamedi suggests first setting the right expectations for the board.
“There are three components. Number one, the most valuable thing you can get from these client advisors is their time. So the first piece is that you want them to commit to a monthly cadence that can be 60 minutes and 90 minutes. There you will say, "Hey, I'm coming to the meeting, me." I will bring two of my teammates with us, we will show you the latest product demo and you will drill us with feedback. We'll do that once a month. “(…) And then part two is this term of customer days, which you can hold quarterly and twice a year.
“The idea is that you want to bring the customers together. Because if you and I are both CIOs in Fortune 500 companies and we respond to a product independently, that's one thing, but if we sit together in one room and look at the product all together, interesting data will be among us customers and us the founder will learn a lot from it. (…) And I think the third piece is just an expectation that the people in the CAB will be lawyers and evangelists for the company as the company develops and products mature, companies with their customer networks. "
Motamedi recommends presenting these expectations in a short document.