Idea Extraction live

My notes on this video from The Foundation, showing a live example of Idea Extraction (IE) being performed.

This is using the IE Email strategy, in which you go through a person's email inbox to uncover issues.

Suggestion is to start up with somebody you know, who is already in business.

During the IE call

Introduce the call as you're doing research to find out what challenges business owners are facing with their email. Ask about what is going on, how many emails are coming in about this specific topic. At what stage the discussion is going on in each email thread (all in parallel, or at different stages)

Ask what would be doing if not handling email, make them express the alternatives to the pain. What would they be doing if they weren't dealing with this pain. "Is taking you away from your zone of genius".

Repeat, reformulate what the person is saying. Emphasis on the problem being solved, while showing the pain currently expressed.

Ask why didn't use a specific platform/tool instead of email to handle this project. Clarify issues with existing competing products, so that your solution doesn't have these same issues.

Ask "If I could wave a magic wand, how does that solution look to you". Have the person express how they would envision a solution that addresses their pain.

Ask "How would it feel" if there was an application that takes care of this problem. Have them express and envision how solving the problem would feel.

"Would you pay for something like this?" "How much would you pay for this?"

Summarize: "We found you have a pain, and you have a pain that is solvable. Even though we entered this discussion in exploratory mode, I'd like to propose to you I go out and solve this problem for you. You can totally say no, as we didn't agree I'd come here to sell you, but I could help you solve this pain by building the product."

"Is there anyone else that you know that is going through the same process? How would you feel about connecting me with those folks, so that we could make it even more laser focused on solving the problem that you have?"

"Summarize potential solution. Going to work with my team to get a solid price, then reach out to others to make sure we have a full vision on what is painful about this".


It's a skill that needs to be practiced, Frank did about 40 IE calls before. While taking notes, making sure to continually repeat and recap the pain to make sure it's clear. e.g. clarify "20 conversations with 20 developers".

If you wanted to condense this IE to 10 minutes or less, focus on these 4 questions:

  • What's the pain you're currently facing in email?
  • How are you going about solving it?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, how would you solve it?
  • What would you pay for it?

Had a MVP (Minimum viable product) identified within the first 10 minutes.

Really important to get a master of the rules, and then decide which ones you want to break.

No worries of ever being in financial trouble, because in a matter of minutes I can go out and find a pain. Business can be easy, business can be abundant, business can be fun, business can be lucrative.