BYU Innovation Academy

BYU Innovation Academy

NISI author, Nathan Furr to speak at the BYU Innovation Academy on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and how to repeatedly innovate.

About the Innovation Academy
The mission of the Innovation Academy is to bridge across all colleges at BYU and the business community and create a collaborative environment where students not only learn how to innovate, but actually work along other students, faculty, and businesses in innovating solutions to real-world problems and experiences through hands-on projects and workshops

Entrepreneur Startup Capital

Nathan Furr – Discover the Monetizable Market Pain

The industrial revolution transformed the business landscape, just as the managerial revolution transformed how we manage large firms. Today, a third revolution, an entrepreneurial revolution, is underway, shaking the very foundations of what we believe about entrepreneurship. What does this mean for entrepreneurs?

 Take the example of Greg Whisenant at As an entrepreneur, Greg was doing everything right according to traditional wisdom and it was killing his business. It started several years earlier when Greg’s apartment building had been robbed. Frustrated and feeling a need to do something about it, he joined a neighborhood watch group and offered to map crimes happening in the area.


CrimeReports.comAs Greg continued, he came to believe that mapping the locations of crimes would align and empower the efforts of citizens and police to reduce overall crime in each neighborhood. So then he did everything right according to standard entrepreneurial wisdom: he had a big vision, built a product, landed a customer, raised venture financing and hired a team.

But despite his best efforts, doing everything right was leading nowhere quickly. In fact, after several years, Greg had still landed only one customer. But once Greg changed his process, in the next three years he landed over 2,000 paying customers. So what was the difference?

Several years ago, my co-author Paul Ahlstrom, a serial entrepreneur and experienced venture capitalist, set out to write a book, Nail It Then Scale It. Based on my research and his experience, we worked to describe a new entrepreneurial process. The process we articulated involved nailing your business and, for Greg and all entrepreneurs, the journey should begin by nailing a pain.

…we argued to Greg that he needed to stop building, get into the field and uncover the Monetizable Market Pain—a pain so significant that customers will return your cold calls.Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs begin with their idea and build a product. Instead we argued to Greg that he needed to stop building, get into the field and uncover the Monetizable Market Pain—a pain so significant that customers will return your cold calls. If you don’t uncover a Monetizable Pain (and we measure that by 50% of your potential customers being willing to return your call), then you probably don’t have a sustainable business worth your blood, sweat and tears.

So how did Greg do this?

He stopped building and started talking to everyday people and police departments. He quickly discovered that everyday consumers wouldn’t pay for his service and that police departments hated his advertising-based business model. At this point, Greg and his fellow founders began to despair, but as they continued to listen (rather than sell), they discovered some crucial pieces of information.

Fast Startup CompanyFor one, police officers were fascinated by the data possibilities of the website and were excited about leveraging the Internet to increase the quality of their communication with citizens. Police chiefs and officers could now use a data “dashboard” to track trends and daily activity.

As the enthusiasm built in each conversation, the CrimeReports founders learned that police would actually pay them to post their data ­– advertising wasn’t necessary. As they continued to learn and refine their prototype, the feedback from customers was astonishing. Their customers said things like:

“This blows other choices out of the water.”

“We’ve been trying to do this for years.”

“It used to take us six months to get this kind of data. Now we can get it the next day.”

The number of police departments purchasing the product went from one customer to over 2,000 paying customers in three years. And not only did customers clamor to sign up, but the CrimeReports website jumped in popularity with everyday citizens. Applying the process was nothing short of transformational.


Nathan Furr

Originally posted on Feb. 9, 2012 by on the Stanford Technology Ventures Program blog

Nathan Furr is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at BYU’s Marriott School. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Department of Management Science & Engineering, as part of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Furr’s research and writing is devoted to the management science of entrepreneurship and translating it into practical insights. He is also co-author of Nail It Then Scale It.

Steve Blank – Lean Startup All Star Networking Lunch

February 3, 2012
Jordan Commons Megaplex Theaters 9400 S. State Street, Sandy, UT

Join Nail It Then Scale It Author, Nathan Furr, along with noted Lean Startup authors, Steve Blank and Alex Osterwalder, at the Learn Startup Allstar Networking Lunch,

Welcome: John Richards, Emcee
Invitation: BMC Team, BYU
Remarks: Robb Kunz, BoomStartup
Presenter and Introductions: Dr. Nathan Furr, PhD, BYU
Presenter: Steve Blank, Stanford University
Presenter: Alex Osterwalder, Business Model Generation

Event sponsors:  Silicon Slopes, Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, BYU; BTJD, GrantThornton, BoomStartup,, Utah Valley Entrepreneur Forum, Kickstart Seed Fund, Domo Technologies, HireVue.