Discover the danger of clinging too tightly to your solution.
Do you prefer shrimp or crepes? Some might say it depends on the setting, the meal, or the occasion. I’ve had crepes once in my life, made by a loving grandmother attempting to channel Julia Childs. They didn’t leave a favorable impression on me. But I might not be alone in that.How well do you know your customer? Click To Tweet
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck Versus the Pop-Up Crepe Truck
Recently, I visited Hawaii’s famous north shore of Oahu, home of the Bonzai pipeline surfer’s haven. Along the coast road are multiple roadside parks, a few small storefronts, lovely homes, and occasional gatherings of food trucks. Multiple recommendations include Giovanni’s truck as a “not to miss” event.
It turns out there are multiple Giovanni’s trucks throughout Oahu. We stopped near the Bonzai pipeline for the recommended food truck lunch experience. The line for Giovanni’s truck was quite long—about a 20-minute wait. The BBQ truck had 2-3 people in line. These two trucks looked like they had been around a long time and may not have moved recently. Giovanni’s trucks at this and other locations are known for the sharpie signatures customers write all over the truck if so inclined.
Next to Giovanni’s sits a well-restored VW van converted to a pop-up truck that serves crepes filled with various fillings and toppings. They also sold travel mugs out the back window. The clean truck looks like it functions as transportation for the owners when not set up for food sales and looks like it goes home every night. No paying customers walked up to the crepe truck the entire time we waited and ate near Giovanni’s shrimp truck.
- Was the shrimp at Giovanni’s that great? No, but that’s admittedly a bit subjective.
- Was the menu at Giovanni’s so creative? No. You get shrimp “scampi” with rice or shrimp with a hotter spice with rice. The garlic in one serving could last many households for 6-months.
- Did I find the prices at Giovanni’s compelling? No. It was not inexpensive, but hey, it’s the North Shore.
The differences between the highly successful shrimp truck with multiple locations and all other surrounding trucks were stark. Giovanni’s hyper-focused on delivering the one thing they know their customers love—shrimp and rice, butter and garlic, or hot spices. That’s it.
While standing in line and watching the crepe truck, I couldn’t help but compare it with a developer in love with their technology, but for which they are out of touch with the market. Delivering something for which there is no demand is not a business and is not sustainable.
Clinging Too Tightly to Your Solution?
I interact with many start-ups who gravitate to various “werx” programs throughout DoD, clinging too tightly to their solution without using their antenna to listen to the DoD market.
- How well do you know your customer?
- When it comes to customer intimacy and satisfaction, how do you measure that?
- How long have you been clinging to Small Business Innovation Research programs as your entry point?
I like shrimp. I like to help companies connect to the actual customer even more!
The Make Your Move podcast is a multi-season series devoted to the lessons learned of military members in their post-active duty lives. I hope you enjoy the stories of the men and women brave enough to share their transition stories so publicly. Listen to the latest episode here.