Listen to Dane Maxwell call a prospect, and hear how he extracts a profitable business idea.

Where do profitable business & product ideas come from?

You’ve heard me interview founders who said they got their ideas by calling up customers and uncovering their pain. Then they build businesses that solve that pain.

Do you want to hear how that’s done?

This is an actual call that Dane Maxwell made to show his students at The Foundation how to find ideas that will help them launch software companies.

(Do you prefer the MP3 version? It’s here)

  • Jason Lovett

    Great stuff. It really just comes down to being personable and showing that you mean business.

  • Geoffrey Barrows


    Dane has rock-solid “emotional intelligence” and good listening skills. I wonder what activities etc. helped him develop this, and if that happened before his entrepreneurial ventures.

  • Andrew Warner

    Oh, he’s amazing at that.

    I once talked to him at a party about a problem I had. Most people would have said, “Andrew, what you need to do is…” That know-it-all approach makes it hard for me to accept feedback.

    What Dane did instead is ask me a few questions about what I told him. That made me feel like he understood my problem, so I was open to his response.

  • Andrew Warner

    Yes, but I think there’s something more going on here. He’s getting people to reveal their problems.

  • Jonathan VanHorn

    The “secret” here is to let them know you are trying to make their job easier. Listen to the natural pauses in the conversation that happen. The pool guy always picks the conversation back up. He is begging Dane to solve this problem for him.

    Real business people realize the value of eliminating time spent on data entry/non-value added tasks. They also constantly think about, “I wish I could do this, I wish this was easier, if only this would work”.

    Business owners get “stuck” doing things the same way as they’ve seen it work before because this is their livelihood. They need solutions and rarely enjoy testing because if it is a monumental failure they end up worse off than before.

    Dane did a great job of just letting him express all the pent up frustrations he had and finding gold.

    Great method.

  • Fred Bliss

    A great example of using 2 ears and one mouth. Nice work, Dane. We used to use the same process when I was a young server with absolutely no knowledge of wine. We’d ask our way through the choice. “Do you like red or white?” “Do you enjoy dry or sweet wines?” etc.

  • Pieter Eerlings

    This is great. I’m going to try this out myself :-)

  • timothy_johnson

    This is solid, I love the way Dane not only pulled the pain out, but how the guy sold himself on the solution which he created in his own mind, and told him how much he would invest (and has invested unsuccessfully) in such a solution.

    I feel so bad for this guy, I wanna make this software to help him!

  • Brian

    Amazing. Thank you Dane and Andrew.

    Best part (so far) is around 12:00 when Dane shuts up and lets the guy go on and on describing his ideal app, and how much time/money it would save him – all without Dane even asking!

    You guys hit it out of the park with this today. Thanks.

  • Geoffrey L. Barrows

    Makes sense. Eric Reis did a last-minute lean startup meetup here in DC last week (you missed it!) and he commented how he had both good and bad mentors. When he approached them with problems, the bad mentors responded with “here’s what you do” while the good ones responded by asking questions- it was frustrating but more effective.

  • Michael Kimbell

    Good stuff. The key is asking the right questions and then shutting up. Thanks for asking for this in the last interview Andrew.

  • Jason Lovett

    I think it goes back to what Sam Ovens said in his interview (pure gold btw). He said it’s pretty much human nature that when someone demonstrates an interest in your life and your issues, spurring you on to talk about what bothers you with an interest in fixing your problems for you, it sets you off to talk and talk and talk about everything that bothers you. That feels good, to have someone who cares, you know? :]

    I think those conversations can be scary for beginning entrepreneurs who want to try this strategy because it’s so damn real and personal, and very powerful.

  • Andrew Warner


  • Andrew Warner

    I hate that I missed that. I was on vacation and totally disconnected.

  • Andrew Warner

    Yeah. I still have a hard time making calls like this.

  • David Chou

    Wow…thanks Dane. Your Mixergy interviews are always perfectly on point. Thanks so much for letting us listen in!

  • Insiya Hussain

    Phenomenal — this was so real. Thanks Dane and Andrew for doing this. Would love to see more in-action stuff like the above call. It really demystifies a lot of the process.

  • Geoffrey L. Barrows

    It was recorded and is up on the Baltimore Lean Startup’s Google channel. Here’s part 1 (you can link through to the other parts):

  • Geoffrey L. Barrows

    Absolutely. Also when you *really* listen to someone, they feel important and empowered to really share their thoughts and feelings. I just did a second interview today… Totally drained me… I had to take a nap afterwards!

  • Michael Kimbell

    Dane mentioned that as one of the biggest obstacles. Rushing through the script to get to the end. This would be the hardest thing for me (besides just starting at all :)

  • Matt Johnson

    Really curious as to why Dane didn’t run with this idea. $400 – $500 a month per customer, big industry and a massive pain point. Dane?

  • Dane Maxwell

    It was hard to say no. It became a matter of focus. My focus and attention is on The Foundation, creating new entrepreneurs, and becoming one of the greatest teachers in the world. Building this product would not support the greater vision.

  • Dane Maxwell

    YES! This is probably the most valuable piece of content on the planet for coming up with business ideas. I’ve never seen anything like this on the planet. That’s why I shared it here.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Very welcome David.

  • Dane Maxwell

    And to ask the right questions, you have to listen and not be worried about coming across as stupid. Notice how many times I ask him to repeat himself.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Yes, business can be this effortless with the right mindset. This is what I teach at the Foundation.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Right? And this is when business becomes fun. When you see how much you are needed. And how businesses can be created from thin air, all by asking the right questions.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Let me know how it goes.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Perfect. Questions are the answer. Newbies just try and think of answers. The wizards of the world rely on questions. (Think: Socrates).

  • Dane Maxwell

    Thank you Jonathan. Yes. I liked bringing his wife into the picture for pain.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Geoffrey it started when I was around 3 years old, I never stopped asking everyone questions. Sometimes it annoys people, but I still kept asking. Now, I just get very, very curious, and I don’t stop asking until my curiosity is solved. I remember asking painters who painted my parents house why they rolled left to right instead of up and down on some spots. Just… endlessly curious. I teach this mindset in The Foundation.

  • Dane Maxwell

    That is why The Foundation is so important for people who try to do this for the first time. Each day we celebrate successes and failures (yes, we celebrate failures) on a group live chat and phone call so members can pick up tricks from each other. Doing this alone is painful.

  • Dane Maxwell

    If you learned to ride a bike, you know you scraped your knees a couple times. If you’d like the training wheels so you don’t fall, The Foundation is perfect for you. If you’re ok venturing alone and banging your knee, get after it!

  • Dane Maxwell

    Yes.. so much more Andrew. This is the most valuable skill in the world, demonstrated right here, live… by example.

  • Dane Maxwell

    I am personally surprised there are not more comments here. . I don’t know if people here really understand the value of what they are listening too. This is the golden ticket for every entrepreneur who’s stuck at the idea phase. If you’ve always wanted to start a company but are stuck at what idea to pursue… this is all you need. Listen. We had members transcribe the entire call word for word and break down the principals I was using each step of the way. So much more is going on here if you really listen.

  • Evan

    Love the neg at 7:20

  • James Layton

    I have followed Dane and Sam Ovens for a few weeks now and this recording is actually a complete business package. He doesn’t need email, a website, business cards, the usual trappings. He is JUST calling a guy, asking what the issue is, then explaining he can solve it, then asking how much he would pay for that solution. Customer before business. Effing gold right there. And listen to how Dane barely speaks, even during some long pauses he just sits back and let’s the guy vent. Digging through those layers, I was 100% CONVINCED he was going to ask for the paperless office first, until he convinced himself the GPS logger was more valuable. And actually for those worried about cold calling, there is no pitch in this recording, he isn’t selling a bean. He is just asking what the issue is then asking the customer to sell the idea to himself. I hope i make The Foundation this year but if not, no matter, I’m on track now. You’ve heard the saying “the customer always comes first” and in Dane’s world this literally means BEFORE the product. Good job Andrew, Dane, Sam. Good job boys.

  • Vlad Shelest

    This is so RIDICULOUSLY useful, inspiring and educational. All in one call. Thank you so much to Andrew for bringing this to us. And Dane, I absolutely love your entire approach to business building and what you’re doing at The Foundation. In fact, I’ve just applied for the next round of training and REALLY hope I’ll get in (hint-hint :) Dane)

  • HStone

    Very interesting, I will be trying this with a current client next week so the timing is perfect. Thank you.

  • Ryan Reed

    This is quite possibly one of the best forms of real world business I’ve seen. It’s usually hard to go through courses with just screencasts of stuff that is theory or even proven but being explained through words and text.

    Actually being able to listen to calls like this is so valuable.

    The tone and seriousness of Dane’s questions were awesome.

    Like at one point about the time tracker things he says

    “What are you talking about?”

    lol it’s almost off-putting but it’s so serious and to the point that there’s no question that the purpose of this call is serious in nature and to ultimately solve a serious problem.

    Love this stuff man.

    I recently had a conversation with one of my clients that is a personal injury lawyer.

    We got into some serious pain issues that they have with clients calling in and asking for updates and emailing all the time that the attorney’s inboxes get so full they can’t properly keep track of the most important issues.

    I still haven’t been able to come up with a solution to that though.

    Anyway, hope to see more real world training out there like this from people.

    Thanks Dane

  • Matthew Fieldhouse

    Any time you see excel being used for something it wasn’t intended, you’ve got a business opportunity

  • Guest

    It was really cool listening in on this call. I’m just starting out after watching all of your recent interviews. I think this call you recorded is such a big key, you basically gave me a map on how to dissect a business owner and how to really probe them to find their pain points and almost have them provide the solution they are willing to pay you for. My biggest challenge is my limiting beliefs and the mindset to take action. I’m starting to build a list of e-mail addresses and I plan on following up on any replies I get. I’ll try to get them recorded and see how it goes. I do have some experience in selling computers and services but I wonder when I do get those email replies, if my limiting beliefs will stop me from making the calls. I’m trying to work on that dealing with that mental chatter. Questions like if I do get a paying client, how do I find out how much the software will cost or how much to charge them? or how do I get someone to trust me if I don’t even have a product or credibility to offer them. How do they know I’m just not taking their money and scamming them? I know that rationally, that there are solutions to these problems but my subconscious mind is somehow sabotaging me, can’t really explain it lol. But I think your call is a great starting point for me.
    Thanks for this rare and valuable insight.

  • sarahcoronado

    This is so on point, I love it. It is very much like a consultant asking a business process owner what is broken in their system, just so that they can configure something to fix it. Thank you Dane and Andrew for sharing your knowledge. Love listening to you guys every day for inspiration. Dane – hope I get into The Foundation this October! — Sarah C.

  • Alex

    Loved it. Building a list currently for some cold e-mails. Between Sam’s e-mail script and this idea extraction recording I’m feeling golden. Thanks for the video Dane and thanks for giving it to your audience Andrew!

  • Dane Maxwell

    Yeah man. You always have wonderful energy Alex.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Excellent Sarah! I’ve added a note to your application for acceptance.

  • Dane Maxwell

    It will be super critical for you to get help with these limiting beliefs personally. The Foundation is a resource (if you can get accepted). For now, check out Byron Katies process at … AND … a thought… many of your questions are WHAT IFs… like… you are preparing for the worst… or you are preparing so you don’t fail… and I want to let you in on a secret… if you take action… the universe will never give you an obstacle you can’t handle. Repeat: The universe will never, ever, give you anything you can’t handle. Trust that you will be able to handle anything that comes up, because the universe already knows you can.

  • Dane Maxwell


  • Dane Maxwell

    Ryan. YES. You are the boss on the call. You are the caretaker, the provider, and the savior. You are in the position of power. With that intention it’s simple to state things like “what are you talking about?” … Many people who do idea extraction will have that thought at times “what are you talking about” but be to scared to ask it. I do my best to get people over this hump.

    About your pain you’ve discovered, you need to get super detailed to start your sub conscious on the path of creating solutions. Ask them about the most common calls they get, “take your last 5 calls for example, what were the clients calling about?” … get very specific … and you’ll start to see patterns. Just dig and dig until you can describe this problem better than the attorney. As soon as you have the problem in writing and defined clearly, you’ll be at a solution. AND… this pain sounds solid.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Let me know how it goes…

  • Dane Maxwell

    Vlad, I’ve made a note on your application that you’ve asked here. You are welcome.

  • Dane Maxwell

    James this may be one of the best comments here for me to read. You are on point. I’ve made a note on your application my man.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Haha. Yeah, that was awkward for me, but I did it anyway.

  • Vlad Shelest

    That’s very cool Dane, thank you!

  • timothy_johnson

    This probably gets so close to the CORE of starting something new, and most people are trying to take where they are currently, and add a strategy or tactic to get them to the next level. With every person I have shared this with, if there is not a willingness to have a mind-shift, the illumination bulbs just don’t flip on.

    I’m not a person who regularly comes back to mixergy and comments, I usually enjoy the podcast from afar, and the membership courses. But this one was too world-shaking not to thank you.

  • Pamela Dale

    Hi Dane and Andrew,
    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I can’t stop thinking about this concept for business. I first heard about it a few weeks ago. I want/need to listen to this again….it is packed with tips.
    I have been looking for a great business idea since reading Tim Ferris’ book a few months ago to no avail.
    Sharing this kind of information so freely Dane is beyond generous, it is selfless.
    The phone and asking questions is not as difficult for me as it is for some…my need is to be a part of a champion group for support.
    I have applied as well to be a part of the Oct Foundation group. It would be a priviledge and a honor to be a part of it.
    I live in Canada…pools are not big business…lol
    Thank you,

  • John Willis

    I am deleting my 120-page business ideas document. None were inspired by a real pain point expressed by a customer with a willingness to pay.

    This is embarrassing. In my professional life, I have conducted lots of polling to help politicians identify top issues, then qualitative focus groups to explore policy solutions to those issues. Invariably, a politician’s own priorities don’t match the actual problems facing real-life voters. Most voters are attracted to small solutions that are simple and feasible, instead of ambitious ideologically-motivated policies that feeds the politician’s ego.

    As an entrepreneur, I fell into the same big-picture creativity trap into which I’ve watched politicians fall.

    The obvious is more concealed than the concealed. Instead of that huge ideas list, the answer to finding a marketable business was in front of me all along. Do what I’ve seen work – methodically talk to actual people.

    Dane, thanks for this remarkable insight. I hope my application to The Foundation is accepted!

  • Mark Charter

    Dane continues to be the man! His open and honest way of talking about his success so others can have it too, is rare. I am hoping I will be included in his next Foundation class as I know what he has to say is truly life changing!

  • Mitesh

    Dane, I’ve discovered a personal pain-point and I wish someone would invent a software program to solve that problem. Is it worth pursuing it? How do I find people I want to interview or talk to about this problem?

  • Steven Tran

    Thanks for the reply, I’ll definitely look into that site. I did send in my application, The Foundation seems like a great resource to prepare my mindset and psychology. I believe once I get help with this, all the technical aspects of the business and just getting it started by getting a paying customer will fall into place.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Dude. Awesome realization John!

  • Dane Maxwell

    Thank you Mark! I’ve added a note on your application.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Hi Pamela! Thank you for your kind words!

  • Tom Ireland

    Dane! Oh my god! I feel like I’m stalking you but that was BEAUTIFUL! I was smiling throughout. You just listened to the guys and he essentially came up with the idea. Amazing. I always thought that an idea had to come first and the pain in that thought process trying to work out what would sell is horrible. This has shifted my whole mindset in 24 hours. I tried this with a pal of mine as I had an idea (bad) but he essentially came up with it and he offloaded all his pain and 2 potential separate solutions spring to mind to combat his problem. Dude, you are amazing! Please don’t stop what you’re doing, man!

  • Alex Stern

    Thanks Andrew for continuing to feature Dane on Mixergy. He has definitely cemented his spot as part of the Mixergy Dream Team. Thank you Dane for another hugely valuable resource. Your Mixergy interviews get better each time. The startup world needs more people like you around. I’m sick of hearing about these “sexy” new startup ideas that don’t solve any real problems. Solving a pain in the B2B market is the way to go. After scouring Houston for an old school phonebook, I finally found one. I’m going to start building my prospect list now. I hope to get accepted into next month’s Foundation group. I’m confident I can contribute a lot to the group.

  • sarahcoronado

    Can’t wait! Seriously, this is amazing. Thanks Dane! And Andrew! Learning stuff like this plus other courses is worth so much more than what we’re paying as premium members.

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