Eric Smith has over ten years of experience in Technology Commercialization and a passion for entrepreneurship. Eric came to the University of Arizona Center for Innovation after serving as the Commercialization Network Manager for Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the University of Arizona's office responsible for moving UA research and technological innovation into the marketplace.
While Eric was at TLA, he focused on building and leveraging a network of domain experts and business leaders who consult on university technologies to help reveal their commercial relevance. He also managed the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps grant program, or NSF-I-Corps, which teaches inventing teams about Lean Startup methodology and customer discovery.
An entrepreneur in his own right, Eric started, developed, and sold his first company to embark on a career in various technology startups. He holds a BS, BA in Business Management, B.S. in Entrepreneurship, and an MBA from the University of Arizona.
First-time founders are always eager to pitch even before figuring out who their customers are and what they want. According to Eric Smith, Executive Director at the UA Center for Innovation, these founders often have one thing in common: they fail to carry out useful customer discovery. The result is an ask that does not inspire confidence in the customer or a potential investor.
How, then, do you carry out useful customer discovery? Eric says ultimately, you need to have a clear understanding of what exactly you're asking for and why you're asking for it. Armed with that information, you should ask your prospects questions that’ll help you discover their pain points and identify who's giving you the money.
Learn more about making confident asks in this episode of the What's Your Ask show with Stephanie Sims as she hosts Eric Smith, Executive Director of the UA Center for Innovation. Stephanie and Eric discuss what to do before you ask, how to conduct better customer discovery, common mistakes made when preparing a pitch, and more.
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