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I get a lot of people that come to me looking for a CTO, or a developer, or someone to implement their idea.  I start asking about the subject area of the idea so that I can potentially point them in the right direction.  Is it an app?  Website?  SaaS?  What’s the business model?  What problem are you solving for who, and how? (My favorite product management question).

Inevitably some of these questions are not answered, and they realize that they in fact do not need a CTO, but instead need to flesh out their idea more.  During the course of them explaining their idea, I note a few things that I perceive to be big assumptions, and when it’s my turn to talk, I point out those assumptions, and start asking them if they have data to conclusively know if they are true or false.  Then, I send them off to test their assumptions.  This saves an incredible amount of time and cost, and not just dollar cost, but opportunity cost as well – instead of the idea you have in your head, you might be off starting another idea.  This has actually happened – my friend Mark Manning was working on an online backup idea, and when a few of his assumptions turned out to be wrong, he changed gears and started DodoCase, which is the iPad Case that President Obama uses!