Book: The Mom Test, Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test


Talking to potential customers about your idea is not enough. You need to ask the right questions, the right way to get relevant answers. Great book.


Ask about the customer’s life (problems, cares, constraints, goals), not about the idea. With requests, you need to find the root cause. Get commitments to the next step. Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff. If you aren’t finding consistent problems, you don’t have a specific enough segment. Avoid receiving compliments. Talk less.


  • Mom was unable to lie to us because we never talked about our idea.
  • The Mom Test:
    • Talk about their life instead of your idea
    • Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
    • Talk less and listen more
  • Whenever possible, you want to be shown, not told by your customers. Learn through their actions instead of their opinions.
  • The questions to ask are about your customers’ lives: their problems, cares, constraints, and goals.
  • You want facts and commitments, not compliments.
  • When you hear a request, it’s your job to understand the motivations which led to it. You do that by digging around the question to find the root cause.
  • Every time you talk to someone, you should be asking a question which has the potential to completely destroy your currently imagined business.
    • Product risk — Can I build it? Can I grow it? Will they keep using it?
    • Market risk — Do they want it? Will they pay? Are there enough of them?
  • Decide what to ask with your team in a calm environment.
  • Learning about a customer and their problems works better as a quick and casual chat than a long, formal meeting.
  • Give as little information as possible about your idea while still nudging the discussion in a useful direction.
  • A meeting has succeeded when it ends with a commitment to advance to the next step.
  • You need to be the one in control. You set the agenda, you keep it on topic, and you propose next steps.
  • Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff.
  • If you start too generic, everything is watered down. Your marketing message is generic. You suffer feature creep.
  • But making a so-so product for a bunch of audiences isn’t quite the same as making an incredible product for one.
  • If you aren’t finding consistent problems and goals, you don’t yet have a specific enough customer segment.
  • Good customer segments are a who-where pair.
  • While prepping, if you come across a question which could be answered with desk research, take a moment to do it. You want to move past the obvious stuff and spend your conversations finding answers the internet can’t give you.
  • If you leave part of the company out of the prep, then you end up missing their concerns in the customer conversations.
  • “If this company fails, what is most likely to have killed it?” and “What would have to be true for this to be a huge success?”