Fit into the life you’re trying to change

Tatu Malmström’s presentation at Aalto Startup Center on 26 November covered fundamental topics that any startup should understand: why data is not enough, how to see the world in customer’s eyes, and why understanding your customers is an advantage.

Host, presentation, startups, Aalto Startup Center, Keynote
Tatu Malmström hosted an informative presentation to Aalto Startup Center's startups.

“What is the problem to be fixed? People are resistant to change. What we need is understanding to change their minds. In order to know and see the problem, we need to understand life. Seeing the world through their eyes is what will separate you from the pack”, crystallizes Malström.

Malmström’s coaching is part of Aalto Startup Center’s services. Aalto’s program helps companies to grow, develop, and sell their products. Malmström’s key message is that the company needs fit into the lives you’re trying to change. Figure out where the value is created, look at the market from a different angle, and most of all – talk to people, not customers. Hiss approach to data leans on the idea that at the heart of any business is the understanding of your customer – and it’s not about having data about them.

Why understanding your customer is the key to winning?

“Data is alluring because it gives answers”, points out Malmström.

However, an in-depth understanding only brings questions and takes us from guess to approximation. So it’s not appealing, yet, it’s useful, explains Malmström.

“The power of in-depth insight is that you understand your customer’s problem better than they do themselves”, says Malmström.

He wants to remind that the basic mindset is looking at things from a different angle. You should be able to fit into the life you’re trying to change. Value is created in use and a solid understanding comes from research – moving from a guess to assumptions.

The data should fit the lives that people live

The market is made of people. When you look at the market from the perspective of target group needs, you’ll start to see the competition in a new light.

“Ultimately it’s the people who make up the market”, pinpoints Malmström.

Malmström suggests asking yourself: What is the exchange you have with your customers? In order to understand a wholly different perspective, you should focus on needs and motivations, attitudes and values, occasions, and assumptions. After that take a view of the market and ask who is our competitor and who are we trying to convince.

Talk to people, not customers

Until you talk to “people” instead of “customers” or “stakeholders”, you’re not changing your perspective.

You need to make sense to people in their context”, explains Malmström.

Behaviour’s measurable nature is often used to justify a data-only approach to creating new products and services. We tend to think people can only give input into what exists now or is in the past. But even though people can’t describe things in terms of your service, they still own their needs, desires, and motivations. These are the things that have lasting value.

“Tap yourself into practices and their meanings to harness another perspective. And bear in mind that on a fundamental level people don’t try new things as a basic method”, reminds Malmström.

At the end, as long as we see people as users and focus on our direct customer experience, we’re part-optimizing life, ends Malmström his excellent coaching to the startup community at Aalto.

Article was written by Laura Syrjälä