Last week we had an initial meeting with a customer--details are hush-hush at this point of course but suffice to say they have impressive educational/research facilities. They kindly bought us lunch in an opulent banquet room although I have to say that both of us were too busy listening and making sure that pieces of food were not stuck in our teeth while we were talking, to really enjoy the food! Pity, really, because it was a sumptuous spread.
After the pleasantries, we explained who we are, what we do and gave a demo of the current simulation platform--a canned demo where Verilog source code for a simple counter was compiled via our web interface and server, and then the resultant waveform files debugged via the web browser as well. Our audience seemed reasonably pleased and asked for more details, which was very encouraging for us to say the least.
The questions we received included:
- Does your tool have the same feature-set as the tools from C and S (major industry players)
- How can we provide a complete learning experience for our users?
- Will our IT staff be able to integrate your platform with relative ease?
It may sound silly, but from the meeting and from subsequent discussions with other prospects, I started to get a feel for the dynamics at a customer's site. Besides identifying the right people to pitch to, and cultivating the ability to sincerely listen, I realized that I have to put each different individual's reaction and requests in the context of their roles in the customer's organization. For example, a relatively junior engineer is likely to care more about the ease of use rather than how a solution scales. A person who works within the boundaries of his/her job description is likely to be receptive only to points that fall within that description and not to "How can things be improved beyond the scope"-type of suggestions.
With these in mind, we're preparing proposals for the next round of interaction. It may be a slow process but already it is pretty rewarding!
Of course, at a demo, be sure to check with the coordinators if they have the necessary equipment. For us, fortunately we had everything so all we needed was a wireless network connection. Thank goodness for the free (as in $0) Wireless@SG!
All these would not have been possible without YC's kind introduction to the powers-that-be, of course. Thanks again, YC!