By Natalie Wilson

On Tuesday, June 26, passionate healthcare executive and digital health evangelist Michael Levy gave entrepreneurs step-by-step guides to planning continuous customer discovery, including integrating market feedback into initial product development and consistent, adaptive interrogation of market assumptions.

“The market is going to evolve around you and you’ll get lost without this,” Levy said.

Levy’s presentation is the latest installment in Winston Starts’ weekly Inform speaker series. Every Tuesday morning, Winston Starts invites a different industry leader to its downtown Winston-Salem office for educational sessions that are open to the public and followed by exclusive breakout sessions with cohort members.

Levy is cofounder and CEO of Bluedoor Heath, a network of various experts with decades of experience in the healthcare space who accelerate, amplify and transform companies of any size to reach their potential in market, which uses a 10-step blueprint for continuous customer discovery as one of its key strategies. Levy shared this model and drove home the importance of using it to find better product-market fit. Levy said that to understand customer discovery, and therefore to understand the views and pains of the market, is to understand how to be successful.

“Customer discovery is the single most important thing to embed into your habits every day,” Levy said.  

To illustrate the problems caused by the absence of adaptive customer discovery, Levy recounted some missteps of his own. Levy recalled that even though he’d had the passion and zeal for disrupting the current healthcare paradigm using technology when he’d cofounded Digital Therapy, a behavioral therapeutics platform powered by IBM Watson conversational API, he wasn’t doing appropriate customer discovery and ultimately didn’t have a customer base to sell to. The solution he’d developed was innovative and high tech, but because it relied on risky market assumptions about the customers who’d utilize it, it was undervalued.

“Each market experiences the same pain points differently,” Levy said. “My failure was rooted in not truly understanding the market.”

Levy explained that only authentic conversations with customer bases will reveal the pain points that exist, the “how” and “why” behind them, and the changes that could potentially be made. Even though entrepreneurs are problem solvers, they shouldn’t try to create solutions to problems that the market doesn’t identify as such.

“It’s important for entrepreneurs to learn the balance between doing, and doing too fast, and doing too much,” Levy said.

To outline the leanest and most agile process of continuous customer discovery, Levy shared a blueprint for the steps his own company, Bluedoor Health, considers:

  1. Isolate a Problem Area of Interest

  2. Conduct Secondary Research on problem Area’s Market Segments

  3. Isolate Market Segments for Deeper Interrogation on Pain Point

  4. Develop Hypotheses and Discussion Guides for each Market Segment on Pain Point

  5. Conduct Primary Research with Target Stakeholder to Discuss Pain Point

  6. Synthesize Feedback to Develop Problem Blueprint and Motivated Purchasers

  7. Develop Solution Concept and Value Proposition Hypothesis per Market Segment

  8. Conduct Primary Research with Target Stakeholders to Discuss Solution

  9. Synthesize Feedback to Refine Solution and Develop Road Map

  10. Develop First Layer of Solution to Test Riskier Assumptions

Levy has a degree in neuroscience from Tulane University and an MBA from Elon University and also co-founded a think tank, Digital Health Impact + Transformation (DHIT), which aims to drive digital health innovation across the ecosystem and transform North Carolina and the Triangle into a global digital health hub. Levy also previously served as entrepreneur-in-residence for the Center for Health Innovation at UNC Chapel Hill, developing their digital health program in support of UNC’s digital transformation strategy.

The next Inform speaker will be Bill McMahon, a partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith and Prophete. His talk on workplace discrimination will be held at Winston Starts on Tuesday, July 10, from 12-1 p.m.