Open to all current CSUF students, the CSUF Startup Competition is all about nudging students towards embracing the call of entrepreneurship that we are sure they have felt over the years. Entrepreneurship is a calling and the CSUF Startup Competition is a straightforward way to heed that calling.
The question “Who are your customers” is the third question on the application and not one to be overlooked. It follows:
Based on your answers to those questions you would think that the answer to “Who are your customers?” is manifestly obvious. And it is true that a reader of your application (and, if you advance, a judge of your presentation) will already have formulated an idea of who your customers are. Your answer to this question is your opportunity to give focus to their perceptions.
Going back to the example of the unique body shape clothing line in the previous posts, you could answer the question of who your customers are by explaining how many people have this problem. If you can, include details about how much money these people spend on clothing every year, what part of that market you think you can realistically reach for the first couple of years after you launch, what their current buying habits are, etc.
One general piece of advice for you when filling out this application that I think is particularly applicable to this question is that you need to be cognizant that with this application you are telling the story of why what you will or are already doing is important. For the clothing example, you are not just making clothing that will fit someone with a non-normal body shape. Go beyond the numbers and paint a picture of who your customer actually is. They aren’t just a small, medium, or large; they’re unique and your company resonates with them on a higher level than your current competitors can achieve.
While we certainly do not expect you to do this, a creative way to convey information about your customers is to turn the focus of your answer onto one customer while peppering in generic facts about your whole market into your description. For example, you could do something like “Fred is one of more than 10 million men who are tall enough that he needs to wear a large shirt but has a slight build that is more in line with the width of a medium shirt. Our solution will enable Fred to feel more confident with his physique because he will finally have casual clothing that compliments his unique body type.”
That would be a pretty good answer and, if you want to go beyond that, talk about things like how much Fred spends on clothing in a given year, how he makes his purchasing decisions, and any other relevant pieces of information that would give the reader a clearer understanding of who he is and why your startup would resonate so strongly with him.
We will be following this post up over the next day with posts about the other questions asked in the application. Those questions are below and as those posts go live we will add links to those posts below. The deadline for submitting your application is end of day tomorrow, Friday, March 9; make sure to get your application in on time or it will not be considered.
CSUF Startup Competition Application Questions
Who are your customers?
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