When you’re starting the Customer Development phase for your startup (idea), the question of whether or not you should provide some type of incentive to people to get them to talk to you often comes up.
You shouldn’t. Here’s why.
If you can’t find people who aren’t just open to talking about their problems with you, but are excited to talk about them with you, hoping that maybe someone (you?) will finally solve that problem for them… then that’s a result.
No one cares about the problem enough to talk to you about it.
If you have to incentivize people to talk to you about the problem you’re trying to solve for them, it’s not a big enough problem in their world.
Doesn’t mean you should stop what you’re doing, but it probably means you need to rethink the problem, come at it from a different angle, etc.
Or it may mean that there’s no there there and it’s time to move on.
Later on, once you’re in-market and competing to get their attention against competitors, maybe incentives will work/are needed, but that’s later… and even then, if you’re positioning properly against a real, well-known problem, you shouldn’t need incentives.