Crossing posting this here and on my personal blog b/c I hope it might help others.
I'm reading SNAP selling by Jill Konrath right now (still fairly early in the book) and she mentions that "people are very protective of their inboxes". I think everyone already knew that but it was valuable for me to read it.
She then goes on to outline what it takes to get into someone's inbox and get your email read. She uses a series of charts to illustrate that the scale are weighted against a prospective customer opening your email (images attached).
So, your product has to be Simple, iNvaluable, Aligned, and a Priority (for the prospective customer), which spells SNAP.
That's the book I'm reading and the background behind my thought process.
The other day I attended a small business expo hosted by a number of government agencies. One of the vendors participated in a panel discussion and her organization was a non-profit, primarily government funded, focusing on supporting startups and innovation.
I emailed the person and effectively said "I am a local startup looking for test cases to prove the value of my software, I would be happy to provide it to you for free". The response I got was "thanks, we'll let you know if we have a need of the services you offer".
Later on in the trade show I met another non-profit also supporting startups. In 5 minutes, at a loud & busy trade show I was able to provide my elevator pitch. I must have clearly communicated what it does and the value provided because the person eagerly gave me his card and asked me to email him (remember, people are protective of their inboxes).
The feedback from the first person might lead a founder to think they're lacking a value proposition (can't even give it away for free to someone paid to help). The feedback from the second person might lead a founder to think there is a clear value proposition, it is communicated clearly, and prospective customers are willing to pay for it. Another way to approach it, is in person the communication is clear & effective while via email it is daunting and/or confusing. Another perspective is different personalities and workload.
I do wholeheartedly subscribe to the Lean Startup methodology of identify assumptions then take a scientific approach to testing each assumption. But, 1 confirmation or denial of an assumption is not enough to keep or throw away an assumption. And, you can't take negative feedback or brush-off's personally (unfortunately I do).
I hope my documenting my startup journey helps other founders (I have 0 customers and 0 revenue thus far so not sure I can call it a startup journey yet).