Customer Investments

Validating hypotheses related to the desirability of your offering are part of almost every Business Design project. The corresponding experiments need to be planned well (see Hypotheses & Experiments template). When planning experiments with customers & users, you should think about "investment" you are expecting from them. Compliments are not enough - they cost nothing! Investments can be financial, time and social. Investments of users and customers show you how committed they are regarding your ideas/offerings. Examples are:

Financial investments

  • Pre-ordering products

  • Deposit

Time investments

  • Invitation to event / next meeting

  • Co-creation (Contribution to development)

  • Test user for trial version

  • Active research on the web

  • Dwell time on webpage

  • Registration for newsletter / event / training

Social investments

  • Introduction to colleagues or friends

  • Recommendation

  • Testimonial

  • Exceptional emotions

The investment you ask for depends on you, your hypothesis and experiment, your prototype / lean offerings and your customers & users. The higher the level of investment your are looking for, the more reality is needed.

Customer investments

Instruction for Coaches

  1. Take care that your teams are defining appropriate investments before conducting experiments. Most of the time, these investments are needed to define the threshold of experiments.

  2. The investments should fit to the phase you are in. At the beginning of the Validate Phase low levels of investment are typical. As soon as you can allow more reality, the level of investments should increase as well.

  3. Make sure your team is testing the right things. Teams tend to focus on ease of use issues and forget about the general problem / solution fit or if their customers see value in their offering.


Question / Hypothesis



Customer Investment

Level of Reality

"What functions should my software provide? Are the functions we are thinking of the right ones?"

Customer interview

We discuss possible functions with our customers and capture reactions on our prototype.

Paper prototype

We prepare a paper prototype showing the function we are planning to include.

Invitation to next meeting (T)

If our interviewees are convinced we can provide a software they benefit from, they will ask for or agree to a follow-up meeting where we can present our final offering(s).


"We believe that we reach the majority of our customers by online ads on the webpages of our three partners."

Online ads

We advertise online for two weeks on the chosen partner pages and count clicks.

We are convinced, if we reach a conversion rate of 3%.

Landing page

We prepare a landing page presenting the core value of our offering(s) and include a newsletter registration.

Registration for newsletter (T)

If users are interested in our offering(s) described by the information given on our landing page, they sign up for a newsletter to stay tuned.


"We believe that our offering(s) lead(s) to significant time savings of X for our customers."

2-weeks trial

We offer a 2-weeks trial and ask 20 potential customers to participate.

We are convinced, if we get ten participants and five positive testimonials.

Functional prototype

We prepare a functional prototype including our core value that should save the time of our customers.

Participation & testimonial (T/S)

If potential customers are interested in our offering(s) they participate in the 2 weeks trial and if they are convinced afterwards they agree to write a testimonial we are allowed to publish.


"We believe that we can get enough (=) X) deposits to finance material costs of our first product series."

Sales pitch

We pitch our offerings 20 times within the next two weeks and show our sales brochure.

We are convinced, if we get 10 deposits of 100 €.

Sales brochure

We prepare a sales brochure presenting our offering(s) as well as the core value we provide for our customers.

Deposit (F)

If customers are highly interested in our offering(s) after our pitch, they will pay a deposit.


"We believe that we can get enough (= X) pre-orders to buy the machine we need for production."


We start a kickstarter campaign and count pre-oders within a given timeframe.

We are convinced, if we get 500 pre-orders.

Kickstarter page / landing page

We prepare a kickstarter page (and landing page) presenting our offering(s) in detail.

Pre-order (F)

If customers are interested in our offering(s) described by the information given on our kickstarter page (and landing page), they place a pre-order on kickstarter.


F = Financial investment | T= Time investment | S = Social investment