The Mom Test: Summary and Review

The Mom Test

The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick

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The Mom Test


A short but good book on customer validation!


It’s human nature to be positive and want to support your entrepreneurial friends (I think this is really sweet 🥰), so everyone lies to you and tells you that your idea is better than it actually is (but this is not helpful in getting real feedback).

Thus the key is to come up with a way of figuring out what customers want that is so unbiased that even your mom can’t lie to you. Hence, the mom test:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
  3. Talk less, listen more

Avoiding bad data

Complaints are not validation. A positive signal of customer need is that the customer already tried to look for some (inferior) solution. If they complain but haven’t tried to look for a solution themselves, then it’s not a real problem.

“Someone should definitely make an X!”

— “Have you looked for an X?”

“No, why?”

— “There are like 10 different kinds of X.”

“Well I didn’t really need it anyway.”

Keep it casual

It’s not a formal “customer interview”, you can get feedback anywhere, like chatting up someone in a crowded café, casually asking them about their life

Let’s say I’m trying to build tools to help public speakers get more speaking gigs and I bump into one at a conference. I’m not going to try to set up a meeting. Instead, I’m just going to immediately transition into my most important question: “Hey, I’m curious—how did you end up getting this gig?” As a side bonus, we’re also now having an interesting conversation and I’m far more likely to be remembered and get a meeting later.

Asking for and framing the meeting

  • Vision: half-sentence version of how you’re making the world better
  • Framing: where you’re at and what you’re looking for
  • Weakness: show how you can be helped
  • Pedestal: show that they, in particular, can provide that help
  • Ask: ask for help

The big prep question

“What do we want to learn from them?”

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