July 01, 2016

Quick Pathway To Idea Validation

Last week I was listening Tony Robbins podcast and one thing he said struck my mind more than usual. He mentioned a reason why should one start a business that made me think, he said: Today it's easier than it has ever been before.

Quick Pathway To Idea Validation

Although he didn't articulate in detail on how it is easier, I dug a little deeper and drew several conclusions. If you are looking at starting a business at virtually any industry there is undeniably more:

  • Access to Information
    • Shared experiences of people who have started similar businesses. Quantitative data on market size and opportunity, behavioral studies on a certain market, the list is extensive.
  • Access to Capital
    • Global markets have allowed for capital to flow freely providing many ways to fund an idea starting from venture capitalists all the way to international crowdfunding
  • Access to Markets
    • It has never been this easy to have presence and sell your products and services on a global scale.
  • Cultural Norms
    • Failing is OK and entrepreneurs in most cultures are praised and looked up as an example.

OK, I have an Idea and I understand it's easier than before – What’s next?

I have seen starting entrepreneurs circle around the hard questions that they need answers on and ask easier ones so they can get several small YES-es so their idea can live another day. They find biased information to confirm their hypothesis while blocking or simply procrastinating conflicting opinions or information. Whenever they kick the defensive mode and go all in, they end up with the most crucial question that deals directly with idea validation:

Who can really tell me whether my idea is worthy of my relentless pursuit?

No matter how many validation frameworks are invented and no matter how many entrepreneurship gurus or influences are out there the only person who can really validate your idea is your customer. The question then narrows down to

Is a person fitting certain profile of segment X, that has sufficient people within the segment to achieve my financial goals, willing to pay Y for my service or product?

Talk is cheap, people often can say that they like that idea and they think its cool. They would share it on social media and introduce the concept to a friend of theirs. However the question remains: are they willing to pay for it and if the answer is yes: how much?

Two changes have opened up the way to making idea validation easier on the entrepreneur

The first one is technology and knowledge gap. I remember not long ago in order to built a simple website one needed to know significant amount of hosting terminology and specifics, software development, database management - practically if you weren't a good programmer like Bill Gates, one needed a full team that would work on a specific product for a prolonged time to get to something that can be presented to potential clients.

The second variable that has changed in the entrepreneurial equation is customer expectations. When building web applications it has become the norm to ask for quick feedback from potential users. Users today are fearless - they become alpha testers of new software and they do not hold back on their feedback. Which is great for you as a product developer. Customers and companies today built products together, their feedback and education bleed into each other. Companies today more than ever, educate customers about certain features and 'why we did it this way' where as customers provide feedback and demand changes that would make the application more usable for them. Instead of doing all the work in a waterfall model, now companies are way more agile. When building a business your current and potential customers opinions are the most important.

After all that being said, who really wants to built a full working product and put it on sale after its completed? Not the perfect solution if you ask me. One way that we have been using to de-risk our own startup ideas is to utilize the power of rapid prototyping. Instead of developing for months, now we have a semi-working prototype that we can put in front of a possible customer from our target group and see them interact with it. It allows us to pivot quickly with minimal loses in time and effort. It does save time and money for our investors and our possible customers providing them with early access simulation and the ability to voice their thoughts.

If customers validate our idea, we continue building it - which makes the prototype useful because we can use it as a 'communication tool' between software development, marketing and clients. It sets right expectations early on.
A working prototype serves as an advanced product specification tool, beats a written list of features any day of the week.

We have made a decision to never built something completely without doing user testing with a rapid prototyped version of the software. It has saved us tremendous amounts of money, time and frustration. If you would like to talk more about how we can help in de-risking your startup by creating a clean prototype for your idea feel free to contact us using Contact form