The Importance of Personas, Perspective, and Focus
When I was in Techstars Mobility program in 2018, I found out that an investor I was about to meet was the Managing Director of a well-respected fund with an investment thesis that seemed like the perfect fit for LaneSpotter.
We believe companies that have an unfair advantage in customer acquisition will outperform. This advantage is usually inherent in the business model – leveraged sales, channel partners, compliance triggers, network effects, expansion opportunities, or some other element creating urgency in the market.
I'd created an amazing portfolio of channel partners and was already seeing the network effects working. I was onboarding new users at a super-fast clip and almost everyone was adding safety ratings.
Then I found out that this investor bikes around 8,000 miles per year. 8,000! That's a shit ton of miles. I couldn't wait to meet him. It was meant to be.
And then I met him – and it was a crushing experience. He hated LaneSpotter so much. He saw no need for it in the market. In fact, he actually said, "I don't think it's a viable business." No founder want to hear this.
In 2018, this broke my heart. If this guy doesn't like Lanespotter, no investor will like it. That's what I thought.
I reconnected with that investor recently, thanks to The Fund. And once again, he said the same thing again, "I don't think it's a viable business."
This time though, it didn't faze me. For two reasons:
Other investors did – and do – like Lanespotter.
I realized that he's not a potential user. He's not the type of cyclist who joins the Lanespotter community. And that's ok.
perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
While I appreciate his perspective, I also know that his perspective isn't the only perspective. In fact, his perspective doesn't really matter at all right now – because he's not one of my target personas. He's this rider:
Lanespotter is for these riders:
When we first launched ShowClix, we weren’t targeting anyone in particular. We were running general event ticketing ads on Google and taking what came our way. I wish that we would have segmented earlier, focused on a particular vertical such as museums or festivals. It would've saved us a lot of time and money.
With Lanespotter, I'm not going to try to cater to everyone. We need to be strategic about how we take it to market. Personas will help us do that.
There are so many different types of cyclists. We can't (and don't want to) build something for everyone. We'll never be able to please them all with one product, so we created personas and will segment.
Cyclists can be broken down into a few categories, based on their riding behavior:
Competitive, lycra-clad dentists and lawyers riding $12,000 road bikes with their dentist and lawyer friends on the weekends.
Hardcore road warriors who log thousands of miles a year riding city streets back roads, and gravel.
Commuters and transportation riders. They habitually ride their bikes to work, school, and everywhere in between – and they usually ride alone.
Exercise junkies who ride to sweat, shed weight, and stay fit. They have their loops and they stick to them.
Trail riders who spend most of their cycling time on a single track and rarely venture onto roads (but would like to try someday).
Newbies. Some of these people own bikes. Others are bike-share users.
Lanespotter's top priority right now is to connect with cyclists who have expert knowledge on their local streets and collect as many safety ratings as possible. We need to talk to the people who on their bikes every damn day. We need to talk to the bike commuter. This is the focus, and it's the right focus.
It's so easy to put too much weight into a single perspective, provided by someone who doesn't fit the target persona. Especially when that person has the money to help make your dream come true.
Until next time,
#blacklivesmatter #womxnrule #legalizeit #investinthemidwest