Should You Force Your Investors To Use Your Product?

I had the following exchange with the CEO of one of my investments the other day.

Q (Brad): It’s strange to me that only a few of the investors / board members are using Product X.  Any insights?
A (CEO): I’m in two minds.  One is that my investors should use Product X to be more informed.  On the other hand, I’m usually very careful to get investors to use a product I’m building just because I asked them to.  There are only a few investors who are potential target users in the early days.  I have done it in the past, and I often get feedback that I have to deal with because I made them play with the product.  My goal is to get the product to a point where they end up using it because it’s that good, and that we’re targeting their target demographic.  

I thought this was a great answer.  I’ve written about this before at Product Focused Venture Capital and Do Your Investors Use Your Product?  I’ve always been attracted to companies that make things I can use and immerse myself in.  However, I realize that this isn’t necessarily representative of the VC community and I loved the CEO’s notion that his goal was to build a product that became so compelling that his investors naturally would use it.

  • Charles McCreary

    The intersection of the investor set and the target customer may be null. For example, assume the company has built a gee-whiz engineering software app. The investors may have have an overall appreciation of the utility (otherwise, why invest!), but not necessarily the inclination, the need, or the ability to actually exercise the app.