questions to ask Startup

15 Questions to help determine what your customers are dying to pay you to do

Final Thoughts

Overall Score 4

How do you determine what your customers are in desperate need for? Dane Maxwell of The Foundation which is a program that teaches entrepreneurs how to build a successful business, list the 4 layers of a software applications and the 15 questions to ask.

Different Layers of software

While digging through answers to the questions… you’re looking for layer 4 software ideas.

  1. Layer 1 idea is usually all in one software, they want one product to do everything. (Stay away)
  2. Layer 2 idea is usually one below an all in one software product. It usually does several different things (Getting closer)
  3. Layer 3 idea is a niched problem… like project management software. (This is good)
  4. Layer 4 idea solves a specific problem – like eSignatures. (This is the golden idea)

The goal is to find a Layer 4 problem to attack. The more specific it is the easier it is to make and sell. If you make a Layer 1 software they would not likely buy and use because it would be so complicated. is his most successful product and it is a layer 2, closer to layer 3 idea.

Questions to ask

  1. What tasks are you responsible for doing in your business day to day? (Listen for response)
  2. Which of those tasks take the most time and which do you like the least? How do you feel when you do that task?
  3. Tell me about how you go about doing (insert task from response above). Stop and listen for 60 seconds.
  4. If you could wave a magic wand and do anything related to (insert task from response above), what would it be?

These 4 questions should be enough to dig you up software ideas. But if you want to have some fun and go down a few rabbit holes. I’d ask a few of these questions from below.

  1. What’s a problem you’ve tried to solve in the past but it didn’t work out?
  2. What manual tasks in your daily routine would you like to automate?
  3. What piece of software that you use makes you want to punch your computer?
  4. In the last day or week, what tasks or activities have taken up most of your time that are tedious and unproductive?
  5. What’s the most frustrating part of your business?
  6. What software do you wish existed but you can’t seem to find it?
  7. If you had unlimited resources, what would you develop to make your day more productive?
  8. Do you have any ideas on what would make your job or industry easier? Things that weigh you down a little you wish would change or go away?
  9. What do you dread doing the most during your typical work day?
  10. What is the most expensive problem in your business? Do you think this could be automated?
  11. Is there any new or existing business that you’re missing out on due to limitations in getting data? Are there any areas in your business where duplicate data entry exists?
  12. Are there any features missing in your current software that you wish existed?
  13. What do you spend the most amount of time on day to day, but enjoy the least?
  14. Think about the last couple of days at work, what have been your biggest struggles lately?
  15. Are you currently looking at any software to purchase for your business?
  16. Have you been looking for a piece of software but just can’t find it?
  17. What is something you know your customers want from you but you have trouble providing?
  18. Of all the things you’ve done today, which one of those things has been the biggest nuisance to you?
  19. Is there anything you want to do with your mobile phone that you can’t right now?

“Remember it’s important to dig underneath these questions for the mindset behind them, so you can re-create questions on your own.”

The above is a great set of questions to help you determine what what they need and get more details about the product and service they will pay for. The questions aim to find out their pain, if they are trying to find a solution for it then they are willing to pay for it.

 How to get the meeting

Dane recommends sending this following email to get their attention and set up the meeting. For cold emails the success rate is 20% which is better than most emails.

Subject: Strange question?
Hey. I’m doing a research project on how to make the insert industry easier, faster and more profitable. Interesting project right? I had a strange question you might not get asked often. How is business going for you? Is it up? Down? Sideways? Has your business been affected at all by the recession? If time permits me, I may reach out and call you later this week. Thank you. Dane Maxwell.

<link to facebook profile or other profile so it’s not spammy>


  • If you use a girls name you have higher response rate – then pass the email to you once they respond.
  • To eliminate features just ask them “We’re thinking of cutting this feature, would you buy it if we cut it?”
  • To get their attention and build rapport send them email with high value something like “Hey if you are recruiting agents, try xzy to recruit agents”
  • To get them to provide more and deeper information, ask them “What else”, “tell me more”


You can listen to Dane on Smart Passive Income which he covers most of these point.

Businesses that has been created using Dane’s system



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