Discovery

Customer discovery is about making ourselves worthy of customers.

Humaginarium is flourishing in the Winter 2018 cohort of Introduction to Customer Discovery. Flourishing, as in beating our heads against a wall until the wall breaks.

The Introduction to Customer Discovery Course runs from the MWIN Midwest I-Corps Node at the University of Michigan. Humaginarium founders arrive from Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Georgia for half-day workshops in Ann Arbor. We’re joined there by coaches, facilitators, and fellow climbers on the slopes of ingenuity. We also meet online for tough love with examiners.

Customer Discovery is the first and most soul-crushing step in The Four Steps of the Epiphany, a bible for tech startups by Stanford professor Steve Blank. He designed Innovation Corps for the National Science Foundation as an entrepreneurial boot camp for nerds and geeks. Ahem.

So what is customer discovery? It’s a methodical investigation that answers the question “Who cares?”

  • You have breakthrough ideas. Who cares?
  • You make things better. Who cares?
  • You change lives. Who cares?
  • You monetize like Midas. Who cares?

The starting point of inquiry is always the same: Nobody cares. If you manage to find somebody who does, voila you found a customer. If you find a lot more, you may be on to something. You’re chances are maybe 10%.

The fascination of customer discovery is the way it deconstructs entrepreneurs. The things they value — their stories, beliefs, expectations, assumptions, knowledge, practice, experience, titles, prerogatives, certificates, hubris — all of that is reframed as baggage. Most baggage gets tossed aside as the litter of past lives, not the building blocks of the future.

So is customer discovery about finding customers? No, not really. It’s more about finding and making ourselves worthy of customers. We see a snow-capped summit of innovation gleaming in the distance, getting closer with every anxious step we take. And soldier on.

The_Birth_of_Venus_detail_-_Zephyr_and_Chloris_small
Scientific entertainment. Variation on Zephyr and Chloris, by Sandro Botticelli (in The Birth of Venus)

Genesis

Humaginarium helps people feel good about themselves in a world that doesn’t.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and a lot more besides. Nobody asked why and God didn’t say. The universe was not a tech startup.

Humaginarium is a tech startup. Everyday we’re asked why and other questions. What is it? When did it begin? Where’s it heading? How will it get there? This is what we say.

Why Humaginarium? Because nothing like it exists and because people need it. Lots of people. It will help them feel good about themselves in a world that doesn’t.

What is it? Scientific video games that reveal the human body in its majesty, beauty, complexity, and meaning. Not the cadavers of medical school, but the homo ludens of high culture. Played to enjoy, learn, improve health and well-being.

When did it begin? In Chicago in the spring of 2016. Grew from one founder with a dream into four earnest professionals. Still slogging through formative research and development. No short cuts. No mantras. No brass rings.

Where’s it heading? Near term to a working, testable prototype, a pre-money valuation, and a commercialization plan. Long term to an Atlas moment when the world pauses and considers what we did, and smiles gratefully.

How will it get there? Tireless unpaid contributions of executives and advisors. Leading to funding by the National Science Foundation, private foundations, angels, sponsors, and sooner than later consumers and patients who pay to play and learn for free. Amen

Preparing for Liftoff

Imagine biology lessons where you experience your body as a fantasy rather than a fact.

Humaginarium.blog is an online diary of happenings in our startup. We’re sharing news, strategies, technologies, designs, milestones. And asking for help. If you like what we’re doing, you can follow us right here.

Humaginarium believes people don’t really understand their bodies. If they did, they would take better care of them and be healthier. They don’t because biomedicine is about as easy to understand as Ancient Greek.

We’re betting on the powers of video games and sims to change that. Imagine entertainment where you experience your body as a fantasy rather than a fact. Where you explore chemistry and biology in immersive adventures to overcome depression, pathogens, and genetic defects. Where you take charge of your life instead of delegating it to strangers.

Soon you won’t have to imagine such entertainment because Humaginarium is making it. We’re nudging folks to wellness.

Working Newton-WilliamBlake
Scientific entertainment. Variation on Newton, by William Blake