How Hamilton Rock overhauled their product roadmap and attracted investors

A story about mitigating product risk, prioritizing the roadmap, and uncovering new market opportunities
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“We hired DemandMaven to conduct market research as we started building the MVP of our product and I couldn’t be more relieved that we did. They painstakingly combed through every single interview, extracted the insights that we needed, validated what we already knew, and helped us think through what wasn’t validated to form new hypotheses instead. Based on what we gathered and the quality of the insights, I’m a huge fan.”

Davin Mac Ananey

CEO & Founder, Hamilton Rock


  • Conducted and analyzed 47 customer discovery interviews
  • Mapped the top desired outcomes that customers and audience members had
  • Identified the top 3 product opportunities for Hamilton Rock to explore
  • Defined the ideal paying customer based on insights gathered

Services Provided

  • Audience research & interviews (customer discovery)
  • Thematic analysis and coding of interviews
  • Jobs-To-Be-Done mapping based on outcomes of customers
  • Product discovery
  • Product-Opportunities mapping

The Company

Transforming digital banking for e-commerce

Davin Mac Ananey is a multi-exit entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of a Fintech company. He’s building a product to transform banking and accounting in the digital banking space, but struggled with prioritizing his product roadmap and validating his hunches about the main value proposition of the product.

“After losing millions of dollars in previous startups and learning what not to do, I wanted to get a real sense of the problem for customers in order to validate our value proposition to overtake competition and provide true value to customers,” Davin Mac Ananey, CEO of Hamilton Rock

The Challenge

Building a prototype without being able to reach customers

Davin certainly had hypotheses about what Hamilton Rock should be, who it should be for, and generally what the platform should include. He had already conducted some general market research that revealed a clear gap in the banking software industry. There were just a few missing links: there wasn’t a way to reach the North American market, and there wasn’t much bandwidth or time to conduct any additional research before raising the first round. He needed insights and as fast as humanly possible from small business owners in North America.

“Being based in Dublin, I felt one step removed from our American customer base. It was crucial for us to understand their needs intimately, but the distance posed a challenge,” explained Mac Ananey.

As a second-time startup founder, he knew that building an international product without conducting customer research prior to product build would produce costly mistakes — ones that could endanger the future of the business. Eager to avoid these pitfalls, he searched to find a Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) expert who was not only willing to consult on the customer discovery process, but ultimately conduct the analysis with him.

“Without a deep understanding of our customers, we risked developing products that didn’t resonate with them, wasting valuable resources and time. I wanted someone who would actually take the time to do the analysis. There are many high profile people who’ve written books and on podcasts but none of them, and I mean none of them, would actually do a customer discovery process with me,” Davin stressed.

Without an expert to engage in rigorous customer discovery with him, Davin felt at risk of wasting precious resources on misguided product development efforts.

“I wanted to get a real sense of the problem for customers. And without talking directly to them, I won’t understand them properly in order to validate our value proposition and whether it’s going to be strong enough to overtake the competition for someone to switch to our product over competitors,” Davin emphasized.

Thankfully, Davin discovered DemandMaven — a growth consultancy that provides SaaS companies and startups the insights they need to confidently build and grow their businesses.

The Solution

Leveraging voice of customer to make strategic decisions

After a discovery call with DemandMaven, Davin knew he found the solution he’d finally been looking for.

“Asia gave a talk at MicroConf and I was already converted to jobs-to-be-done theory and she just made a lot of practical sense. She had a case study she was doing and it cemented in me that I’m headed in the right direction by doing customer discovery,” Davin recalled.

DemandMaven provided Davin with a structured and rigorous customer discovery program involving live customer interviews directly with his prospects in order to effectively target his ideal customers’ pain points and preferences.

“I like talking to customers already, so being able to do the interviews and hear directly from customers was invaluable. I loved that DemandMaven did the analysis to take the bias out of the actual findings because entrepreneurs are suckers for confirmation bias,” Davin explained.

Together with the DemandMaven team, Hamilton Rock conducted a total of 47 interviews in the North American market. DemandMaven worked with Davin to determine the strategy for sourcing these prospects, qualifying them, and then created a plan for surfacing insights.

“…what you guys brought to the table was a very rigorous and structured process in terms of clarifying our screener questions, clarifying the audience that we were talking to, and just having that sounding board back and forth was very helpful.”

After the interviews, DemandMaven started by coding the qualitative data to find patterns between pain points, struggles, and desires from prospects regarding their existing banking experiences. Due to the sample size of the research, DemandMaven was also able to visually represent this coded data in the form of charts and graphs to show Davin visual trends across popular acquisition channels, solutions prospects have already tried, competing banks, and more.

“The fact that you guys did the analysis took an awful lot of the bias out of the actual findings. …So having that capability was really, really good.

Finally, DemandMaven was able to demonstrate the top JTBD that prospects had when choosing a bank for their business. This meant that Hamilton Rock could precisely understand why prospects choose banks, what triggers led them to searching for a bank, and the competitive differentiators that attracted them to certain banks over others. This intelligence would later inform the features and minimum viable product (MVP) that Hamilton Rock could prototype.

The Result

Unambiguous clarity and direction

After completing his first engagement with DemandMaven, Davin was thrilled to find actual evidence of what his prospects’ issues are and what product to build to provide pain-relieving solutions.

“When I talked to customers prior to DemandMaven, I’d understand macro problems of the space and a generalized view. After talking to customers through DemandMaven, we got deep into feature sets and the nitty-gritty core issues that customers are wrangling with,” Davin explained.

In addition, finding the ideal partner for his customer discovery work helped Davin mitigate confirmation bias and ensure the qualitative research remained consistent.

“After doing the research with DemandMaven, I don’t even trust my own instincts anymore. DemandMaven allowed us to get detailed analysis in a way that informed crucial decision-making in order to prioritize our features for product development,” Davin said.

This ultimately led Davin to understand the core value proposition for his target audience and commit to a refined positioning play while going to market.

“We experienced a significant improvement in our understanding of customer needs, leading to the refinement of our value proposition and our product roadmap.” Davin explained.

In addition, the Hamilton Rock team was able to identify previously overlooked customer segments and tailor their product offering to better meet diverse needs.

“This research really confirmed a lot of new insights that I did not understand initially. It anchored our proposition in a slightly different direction as a result of the interviews and if we didn’t do that, I’d be running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction,” Davin emphasized.

Davin was also able to get clarity on where to invest his time and resources that were limited due to funding. Plus, he was able to impress investors who needed to trust that there is a viable market and a clear vision for the product.

“The data helps us further impress investors since we’ve gone the extra mile that most founders fail to do. For my own sensibility too, I like to be very rigorous in my planning and this gives us a leg up on the market landscape and a clear path moving forward,” Davin said.

Overall, DemandMaven’s research helped Davin build an insights-driven prototype, prioritize the product roadmap, and improve relations with investors.

“The insights from the DemandMaven research not only aided in building a positively received prototype but also greatly influenced the product roadmap and garnered investor interest. This has distinguished us as a meticulously planned and customer-centric startup, and ultimately provided peace of mind that we are running in the right direction.”

Davin Mac Ananey

CEO & Founder, Hamilton Rock

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