The thrill of validating your first customer

Richard was one of our first students at AppInstruct.  This begins a series of monthly posts from him, plotting his team’s journey as they accelerate from an idea for an app, to a mobile business!

Do you know that feeling when you’re hustling and hacking your ass off and sometimes wonder what’s it all for? We do, but we embrace it. At troopr, we understand the life of a start-up is tough and full of uncertainty but with the right amount preparation, knowledge and just a touch of luck, you can transform uncertainty into opportunity.

The troopr journey started just over a year ago when we struggled to organize a holiday with our 14 friends to a Central Coast (NSW) beach getaway. Complications with dates, finding a house and dealing with last minute changes almost resulted in the trip being canned.  We persisted, drove to the house and spent the entire weekend discovering, learning and embracing Eric Ries’ lean startup methodology.

We spent hours brainstorming on butcher’s paper plastered across the coast house windows with the sun rays shimmering on the ocean behind each page – it was where the idea of troopr was born.  We knew we wanted to create something which would help millions of trips (just like ours) – after all, life long memories are created in the company of your closest friends.

About 6 months later, we discovered and enrolled on AppInstruct’s Course which gave us the knowledge and skills to paint the bigger picture.  As an example, one of the most important lessons we learnt earlier on was to remain true to our users and how they engaged with our product. Initially, we were building a mobile app but after extensive prototyping and research, we discovered users were actually planning trips on a laptop/desktop.  This relatively simple test (coined by AppInstruct) had saved troopr from wasting countless hours and money building something users didn’t want.


Source: Steve Blank

Since finishing the Course, we have been working endlessly on finding our product/market fit. In the true lean startup style, we were spending our resources as efficiently as possible on validating our assumptions, pivoting from B2C to B2B and building our Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”).  We finally worked our way to our first customer, proudly showed them our MVP and comprehensively validated the problem.  After a couple of weeks of negotiations, we’re thrilled to have successfully closed the deal with our first business customer on good terms.  What’s of even greater potential benefit to us, is this deal now provides a bridge for us into the travel industry.

So, where to from here?  We will continue to be lean, hacking our product further and are on the road again to sign-up our next customer.  We continue to work with AppInstruct on growing our startup towards success.  If there’s one thing we’ve learnt so far on our start-up journey – it’s to be agile.  Don’t fear change – retain your principles, but in the face of your MVP or validation data, adapt and react quickly.  

Richard Ing

Richard Ing wrote on

Richard is a co-founder and CEO of troopr. Richard is passionate about bringing people together, collaborating with Australian-based Startups, loves snowboarding and all things corgi-related. Richard's favorite app is GoogleDrive, which allows him to access any important doc on the go.