Select Page

To become a wizard find a curtain. To open the universe paint the interior walls like the sky.

nevermind the man behind the curtain…

You do not have to actually manifest the abilities of a wizard or become the universe to wield their powers. For a startup the easiest and simplest test outside of customer interviews is becoming the Wizard. The man behind the curtain.

In the classic the “Wizard of Oz” the wizard is fixed behind a curtain. From their he moves an elaborate illusion that he is powerful and all knowing.

Once unveiled though, he is just a man. This is one of the easiest principles to implement with startups today.

Save years in a matter of hours

You do not have to complete your website, product or service to determine if people will love it. You can do mockups of the concept. Do this only after doing interviews with customers.

I’m not aware of a quantified metric outside of a pre-sale. Once you have someone saying come back for a demo that may be good enough for a first time entrepreneur. Keep searching for a dozen or so customers and see if some are willing to pay and put some skin in the game.

Then start with design. Hire, find or sketch out concepts. Feel free to go back to some of the earlier prospects who were really excited about it. Get their input.

Iterate as needed and then start making some high fidelity mockups for a single page website.


Start crafting what is called copywriting. Once you have design and copy down. You have the basis of your website down.


Setup some analytics. Then test drive the market that was most interested. Go back to those early customers who were excited but did not agree to a sale and ask for it after showing them the website.

Market Test

Spend $100 to $500 in digital marketing only if you have gotten plenty of positive feedback. Positive feedback in this case is those 10 to 50 prospective customers asking how much it costs, when will it be available or signing up right then and there.

The Wizard: Get $85 sales in 2 hours

During a startup weekend. I worked with a team that was doing a task rabbit clone. I convinced them to simply make the web page that people can see when they go to their website without using any database, logic or backend. It was basicly useless except for a few things.

* It tracked people who advanced along the sales process

* It had a form that people could fill out about what they needed done. When they submitted the form it was emailed to myself.

We blasted social media and our local networks for anyone interested who needed something done. We got a small response. We then sorted the skills, traits and tasks that were needed.

Then we went and found someone willing to do the work.

How we came to this point was:

Will regular consumers use a web form to finish handyman work?

Will they trust the individual?

What are their concerns?

After Action Review

The first sale happened in hours. We drove over to their house to collect the money. Then when the work was done. We called again and asked them several questions to help us adjust moving forward. Then we arranged a meeting with the worker and paid him his share.

By being the wizard we were able to be intimately involved in the process. We were able to find all of the kinks, all of the problems, all of the concerns and issues.

So instead of thinking of a list of all the problems. We just started doing the actions in a way that made it seem like we were

1. an actual company.

2. were interested in the success and doing a quality check on the actions done

3. were improving our processes

By being the wizard in the front and a human behind the curtain we worked harder than we should have. We also found out a lot of issues that would have required some mental thinking but not validate the idea as viable. ##### Conclusion


Be the human behind the curtain. Do things that do not scale to understand how to grow and change. The minute you implement an entire system without validating the success of it you have handicapped yourself.

>I’d rather spend 8 extra hours doing things that seem backwards to get to the answer of a vital question then years doing things the right way without an answer.

Hours of thinking. Years of design and development without any validation. When it took a team of 6 people to setup a website, market to prospects and find users all in a few hours to verify the problems we would face as we tried to get our next 9 customers.

I’d much rather spend 8 extra hours doing things that seem backwards to get to an answer that is vital to the success of a startup then spending years doing things the right way without an answer.