I'm Salim Virani. I used to design peer learning programs, and these days I'm having fun building stuff.

Tips on choosing your customer learning method
Oct 18, 2012

Exploration, pitching and concierge are 3 common experiment categories in the startup world.  Often these are incorrectly seen as steps, but they’re not. This will help choose which method is appropriate.

Exploration (Learn, aka Customer Discovery)

  • if you have an early idea for a solution
  • if your customers aren't biting your arm off and chasing you for your product
  • if you're not sure where you need to be to make new customers aware of you
  • if you don't know what budget you belong to, or who else in the organisation can affect your sales
  • if you don't know how to segment your customers based on behaviour or job-to-be-done
  • if you're not confident how consistent your problems are within your target segment
Pitch (Confirm, aka Customer Validation)
  • if you have an idea of how and when people will buy from you
  • if you have an idea of when customers start looking for a solution, and where they look
Concierge (Learn or Confirm)
  • if you're confident in the customer segment to target, but less sure about exactly how to help them
  • if building the solution will take time and there are still unknown unknowns in terms of how customers will use it
  • if you have an idea for a solution but don't know the exact customer context or job-to-be-done
Choosing your learning method starts with [understanding your options](http://www.decisionhacks.co/) so you know you're investing your time effectively.

What am I up to these days?

I’m working on a communication tool for loose community groups and unconference-style interactions. It focuses on individual autonomy rather than top-down coordination.

I recently became a Kernel fellow, where I was exploring models for self-directing communities of care, the history of economic cultural norms, and the connection between mimicry, memes and our sense of belonging.

I did a few advisory gigs too - for Polygon, Limechain and Bankless on education and support programs.

In the past, I designed peer learning programs for Oxford, UCL, Techstars, Microsoft Ventures and The Royal Academy Of Engineering. I also played a role in creating the Lean Startup methodology, and the European startup ecosystem. You can read about this here.


  • Cuppa - decentralised collaboration protocol (WIP)
  • Nonfungo - completely on-chain NFT sale notification bot for Discord. (Look ma! No Opensea API!)
  • Powerplays - real-time token launches


  • Peer Learning Is - a broad look at peer learning around the world, and how to design peer learning to outperform traditional education
  • Mentor Impact - researched the practices used by the startup mentors that really make a difference

Collected practices

  • Source Institute - skunkworks I founded with open peer learning formats and ops guides, and our internal guide on decentralised teams
  • DAOistry - practices and mindsets that work in blockchain communities
  • Decision Hacks - early-stage startup decisions distilled