Solve Your Customer's Problem

Corey Thomas is the dynamic CEO of Rapid 7 – a cyber security firm based in Boston.

We met to continue a conversation about his “double down or cut your loses” approach to new product development. Meeting milestones is not justification for keeping a development project alive. Big hit or shut it down.

We quickly turned to what made Rapid 7 a success story with revenues today above $300 million. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said the key to his career was “skating to where the puck was going, not where it has been.” Imagining where customers will be rather than where they are today is the key to Rapid 7’s success.

When Rapid 7 was founded, big banks and investment houses were buying cyber security products. Midsized firms were not. Most cyber security firms were developing products for Bank of America and Schwab. Approaching midsized companies with cyber products suitable for large companies was not working – too expensive and too cumbersome. The midsized companies knew they had a problem but thought the solution was a cheaper version of the big bank products.

Large companies can afford a dedicated cyber staff monitoring attacks on the firm and tweaking defense settings in response. Rapid 7 believed midsized firms would buy cyber defense products if the cost was manageable and the product did not require constant in-house staff intervention. Rapid 7 believed they could make a cyber product that would automatically respond to an attack. They brought the product to market even though customers were not asking for that capability – they did not know the product could be made.

The Corey Thomas approach is: 
Listen carefully to what your customer says is their problem
- Discount what the customer believes is the solution to their problem
- Fully understand the value of your solution
- Understand your capabilities


Santa Fe - Blue Sky & Red Bluffs
As someone who grew up in the Eastern U.S., my eye is drawn to the blue skies and red earth of the high plain’s states in the western U.S. The rich, red cliff vistas of the Grand Canyon live vividly in my memories.

Pictured below is an image I captured in Santa Fe – Georgia O’Keefe country.

2 comments on “Solve Your Customer's Problem”

  1. Rick:
    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The Gretzky strategy is a great match for product development. Even better, it was wonderful to see an African American use a hockey analogy to achieve big-time business success!
    Bob Kmetz

  2. ‘The only reason for a business to exist is to gain, and maintain, customers.’ Peter Drucker. Companies that go belly up focus disproportionately on their product/process rather than diving customer problem at a reasonable price.

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