While you sat in a comfy chair at Starbucks sipping coffee, mid-way you had a eureka moment and figured out the next best thing to offer humanity after sliced bread. You quickly jot down your idea on a napkin and finish the coffee quickly to rush home and think on it some more.
Within an hour you’re not just dreaming millions, but you think you’ve even figured it all out right. Right? Wrong!!
Often, we are so carried away by what we think is the greatest idea ever, we forget the core — test the real need of your product in the market- Idea Validation !!
Idea Validation should be the foundation to your plan and executed in two steps -Internal and External.
What is your idea?
Before you embark on your journey there are few questions you must ask. Who is your target audience (TA)? Does your idea/ product help in solving the problem they are facing? How does the product add value to their lives?
The final outcome of your data must come from action metrics and not vanity metrics.
I’m hoping you are!
So lets have a quick chat on how to go about Idea validation?
Internal Ideal Validation:
When you’re figuring out what to offer the world, ensure you have done the following checks:
1. GOOGLE — Ask and you shall find!!
Do a quick search on Google to see if there are competing products available already . If it’s a crowded market, then maybe you should re-think your idea unless you have a very new unique feature to differentiate you.
2. Scout your competition:
Is there a need you’re fulfilling being fulfilled by somebody else in another geography? e.g. a DIY baking kits for kids are easily available in the US but not in India. So when Bake me India created a DIY baking kit for kids it became a success in India.
3. Research deep and smart:
Go to Google Keywords and Google Trends . Now check if the keywords around your idea have good search volumes. It will give you an idea how popular the need of the product/service is likely to be. High search volumes mean you should proceed on your idea, low volumes might indicate a rethink of strategy. eg you’ve invented a cool new watch, then check if people are looking to buy or gift the watch and does it have an all year demand or just seasonal.
4. Lurk and Listen:
Observe people in the industry who might be nearest competitors, analyse their size, scale, outreach etc. to know if that’s something you can replicate. eg you’re planning on making some exotic teas which do not exist yet but there are players offering exotic coffees. Thats your nearest benchmark to see and analyse the demand for exotic beverages.
5. Gain knowledge:
Do you have the foundational knowledge of what you are aiming to step into ? Eg If you’re making a tech product, do you understand the basics of technology to explain it to a developer and understand what limitations exist etc. or If you want to open a Biotech lab and have no clue of science then you need to learn a hell lot.
External Product validation:
Let me get one thing clear — Friends and family don’t count when you’re looking for valuable feedback to validate your business idea. Its not that they’re knowledgeable but the regard and love in the relationships cloud and mask accurate (read brutal) feedback. Its only human!!
Pitch your idea in the name of research to random people in cafes/ target audience hang out areas and ask them to give you some honest feedback to help a friend on his venture. You need not have a product in hand to show but a questionnaire would do. Notice people’s behavior and body language all throughout.
2. Idea protection (Optional)
If you fear your idea may be stolen for its uniqueness and authenticity — filing a patent for it may be a great idea. Also, at this stage you can update you’re LinkedIn profile and declare yourself to be working on an idea on stealth mode. It makes people curious about what you’re up to and they look forward to you unveiling your product.
3. The Customer acquisition plan:
Have a plan on how you get your 1stcustomer, 10thcustomer, 50thand 100th. That’s the real struggle. Thereafter it’s a game of scaling with example. To validate and ideas success this needs to be ensured. Know the cycle and its spokes. E.g. if you have a tech product do you know of Appsumo and product Hunt, If you’re creating a new energy bar, do you know how to get the product into Walmart or distribution channels etc.
4. Building your MVP
Minimum Viable Product is the miniature of the final product. It has the minimum number of specifications and features for testing purposes. Building an MVP works on various assumptions and variables. Since its a testing stage, it help reduce risks, minimizes cost and effort. It also helps in giving a feedback about the usability of the product. You will know if the company should pivot or preserve on their path.
A great example that comes to my mind that amazed me was the launching of Dropbox. Dropbox is the application that lets you share files across different platforms. It was launched by a trailer video by its founder Drew Houston, 2007 explaining the applications features and giving demonstration. After its launch, the beta signup crossed from 5000 to 75,000 overnight. Therefore, the assumptions of level of interest was validated even before the release of actual application. This testing created a much-needed demand for the app and soon Dropbox had million subscribers.
The biggest test to validate your business idea:
(Drum rolls please)
Okay, so the biggest test for the idea validation stage is an advance payment. Yes !!
If you can get even a token amount out of a future customer (non-family or friend) because he/she is so wowed by what you’re proposing and does not want to miss out, you know you’re on the right path!!
Idea Validation is a process you should spend considerable energies on in the start of your idea. A product that meets consumer demand is more likely to succeed than one that's not wanted.
P.S. — If you have any ideas to share on this or comments would love to hear back and add to this.
Originally published at blog.alore.io on February 27, 2018.