The Essential Guide to Pre-Product Discovery: Unveiling Customer-Centric Solutions

Ehsan Abbasi
2 min readOct 5, 2023

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Product discovery is a dynamic process that revolves around understanding customer needs to craft tailored product solutions. It’s pivotal in modern product design, preventing costly investments in unnecessary products.

This process comprises two intertwined loops: exploration and validation, where assumptions about customers are explored and then verified. It’s a paradigm shift from traditional, assumption-driven product design, leading to more effective solutions.

Solving big problems for customers creates big value for businesses — Melissa Perri

The Exploration and Validation Process

Pre-Discovery Process

Pre-Discovery Phase

In the pre-discovery phase, the foundation is laid. Goals include:

  • Understanding the problem space.
  • Ensuring funding supports agile delivery.
  • Aligning team expectations.
  • Planning research.
  • Setting clear stakeholder expectations.

Understand the Problem Space

Comprehensive research on the problem space and existing products is crucial. Explore user feedback, metrics, reports, and firsthand experiences. Understand why the project was initiated and its alignment with company objectives.

Funding for Agile Delivery

Frame the work as designing a product, not a predefined output. Plan to track value from the start, making it easier to justify further funding.

Align the Team

Ensure the team shares a common problem statement and outcome vision. Initiate workshops to build stakeholder maps, empathy maps, problem statements, and more.

Set Expectations

Clarify the agile delivery process, emphasize the role of evidence and user research, and establish that stopping at discovery is acceptable.

Completing Pre-Discovery

Most projects take 2–3 weeks for pre-discovery. By the end, you should:

  • Understand the problem space and outcomes.
  • Co-create a shared problem statement.
  • Identify key user groups.
  • Secure funding.
  • Align team members and stakeholders.

Validation is Key

Critical assumptions must be validated before proceeding. Consider market size, competitive advantage, costs, and user acquisition:

  • Market Size: Plan for long-term growth.
  • Competitive Advantage: Assess competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Costs: Explore different tech stacks.
  • User Acquisition: Understand user acquisition costs in 2022.

Top Challenges in Product Development

  1. Rising Above the Noise: With a saturated market, standing out is challenging. Evaluate the user pain point, value proposition, and unfair advantage.
  2. Handling Failures: Success depends on resilience, efficient resource utilization, and continuous improvement. Be prepared to experiment and fail quickly.
  3. Acquiring Users Cost-Effectively: Rising user acquisition costs are a significant concern. Developing a robust growth strategy is crucial for product success.

In today’s competitive landscape, product discovery is an invaluable tool for creating solutions that truly resonate with customers and drive business growth.

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Ehsan Abbasi

Technical Product Manager with 4+ years experience applying data-driven mindset to build successful solutions for startups and enterprises. abbasiehsan.com