“Vol Court” session two focused on all-important customer discovery process

The all-important customer discovery process was the topic for last night’s second session of the Spring Semester edition of the “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition.”

Shawn Carson, Lecturer in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, led the discussion in his usual energetic, engaging manner. “You have to understand who your customer is,” he told the more than two dozen students who joined the session. “Tonight is all about how to become an expert in your customer.”

One of the more interesting slides he shared was this one which summarizes the top 10 reasons that start-ups fail. Topping the list is building something no one wants, clearly emphasizing the importance of understanding a potential customer’s pain points so that a product provides the right value. Carson introduced two terms we had not previous heard him use – gain creators and pain relievers.

After building something that no one wants to buy – 36 percent of the failure causes, the next four were, in order: hiring poorly (18 percent of total), lack of focus (13 percent), failure to execute on sales and marketing (12 percent), and not having the right C0-Founders (7.9 percent).

The third session next Tuesday will feature “Franchising,” featuring Shelly Sun, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BrightStar Care and an alumna of UTK

Stay connected with us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Article ideas and other suggestions should be sent to Include the name and contact information (phone and email) for follow-up.