Well, yes. We really like the Mom Test here, as you may have picked up….
I used the Mom Test this week when talking to a Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University called Bill. I was doing some DD into an NLP & machine learning startup and needed to get his honest view on the business after he had had a 2 hour call with them on our behalf (and our dime).
Something the Mom Test encourages is to ask important questions. What’s an important question? If you get an unexpected answer to the question and it doesn’t impact your plans, it wasn’t an important question. Taking a step further, every time you talk to someone you should ask at least one question that could totally destroy your currently imagined business. Now THAT is an important question.
So back to Bill. We originally had a list of questions like this:
They’re fine questions, and good to ask.
But after discussing with the deal team for an hour – yes, we prepared our questions for a whole hour – we came up with some better questions. Some important ones. Here are some examples:
[I thought this would help him contextualise the team in a way with which he was familiar – his life as a Professor. It worked!]
[It was important to separate these 2 questions so he wasn’t biased in his response to the 1st]
[It was very important to us to know that these guys are at the cutting edge. This was a similar question to the first, but we wanted double reassurance and to see if he was consisent in his answers]
The answers to questions like these got us so much more than the answers to the first set of questions. The answers would genuinely get us closer to an invest/don’t invest conclusion whereas the former list of questions would just nibble around the edges of that question.
Some other advice from the Mom Test that I love is: