The 7 virtues of idea validation
- The absolute very first people you go to, are your potential customers. Listen very carefully what they say.
- Never ever fear that anybody can “steal” your idea. This is a myth that seem to never go away under first time entrepreneurs. That fear, by the way, is the no.1 reason why millions of great ideas vanish away and never see the light of day. Don’t bother your future clients with NDAs or other legal confrontation. This makes no sense.
- Interview your target audience BEFORE you spend a single penny or minute in prototyping or writing your first lines of code. Everything you do prior to speaking with them is pre-conditioning your thoughts. That bears the risk that you may start arguing with your contact.
- Structure the interview around 3 strategically craft questions:
a) “How would the proposed idea help you?” Let them tell you their possible story, don’t “sell” your idea.
b) “If you would build it, what would you charge, where would you see a good price point”. Find out what value they see.
c) “What would you do 9 month later, if I would tell you the product is no longer available. What would be your alternative?” Find out if you have just a nice to have or it would be a serious problem when your idea is not maturing.
- Put yourself in a state of “very awake meditation”. Meaning you are hyper carefully listen, you never argue even a tiny bit, and you document not only what they say but also the emotions you noticed. Consider yourself an emotionless AI based Robot. When they don’t get what you say, make a note and trim your presentation.
- Don’t ever bother ‘potential customers’ with any type of faceless survey.
- Make sure you speak with at least 42 people. That number is important:
– it has some undocumented statistical value
– it forces you to find enough potential customers to start with
– if you find only less than 42, it indicates that it will never warrant a business
– you get the necessary feedback to decide your MVP functionality
– it helps you understand how much time you spend to find, reach and talk with your audience – first indication for customer acquisition cost.
– if you can’t get at least 20 positive feedbacks, continue until you have 20,
This is called idea & first market validation and is a key process in every top notch startup – BEFORE it was a real startup.
Most people just go and run. They fail but fail far later and have a 90% failure rate. Even though every startup entrepreneur today knows, that they ave only a 10% chance to win, they are sloppy right out of the gate :)
I get about 5 questions like that every day. And since I’m rather lazy, I wrote this post :)
Hope it’s helpful.