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Idea Validation

Idea Validation - Why and How?

Me, you, anyone who has an idea and who is willing to act upon the idea, can become an entrepreneur.

Now, assume you have an idea. You like it. You love it. You believe it is futuristic and will change lives of many – great! Now is the time to validate if your assumptions are right and if the idea is worth spending more time on.

A simple definition of Idea Validation is – the process of validating your idea prior to launching your business.

Idea Validation – Why?

We are always biased towards our opinions and ideas. What problem I face might not be faced by 95% of the population. Is the remaining 5% a large enough market to cater to? – Not really.

Idea validation is important to understand:

  • Does your idea solve a real-world problem?
  • Do people need it? – Else you will be working on an idea that nobody is interested in.
  • And more importantly, are people willing to pay for it?

Before you start with the process of validation, create a framework around your idea. Easiest way to do this is to fill a Lean Canvas.

Lean Canvas helps you –

  • Define your customer.
  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • What is the existing solution and how you will be better than them?
  • Unique value proposition

Lean Canvas should be refined based on new insights you come across while validating your idea. These are just your base level hypothesis to start with. Some of these hypothesis might get redefined and some may be falsified while you validate your idea.

Idea Validation – How?

  • Talk to potential customers

There is no better way to validate your idea than talking to your potential customers. I cannot stress this enough. These people should not be your friends or family. Get on the field and talk to people. Validation only comes from potential customers.

Ask as many open-ended questions as possible, try out different scenarios, get to know their pain points, ask whether they will be willing to pay for your product/service. Run targeted surveys to get feedback on the idea. Online surveys should only be a part of customer validation and not the only way.

In the initial stage, talk about your ideas with as many people as possible. The success of an idea depends on the execution; hence you should not be worried about someone stealing your idea. Sharing idea helps you refine it, get various insights, understand the obvious loopholes which you may have missed earlier and some outright critical comments.

  • Competitive analysis

Mapping the existing market players provides some understanding of how the product is received in the market. You can learn from the mistakes your competitors made, avoid them and build your own USP for the product.

  • Create MVP

Create a Minimum Viable Product and check the response. This is a great way to get feedback and build on it.

  • Crowdfunding

The most popular methods out there is crowdfunding platforms. Here you find people that are ready to pay for the product that doesn’t exist (as yet!)

Closing remarks

Sometimes just going out there and trying to sell your product/service is the best way to validate it. Often times it is difficult to precisely predict how your idea might be received. While idea validation methods provide some understanding of whether you should pursue an idea, initial confidence etc. – it is going out there and selling that paves way for continuous learning and improvements.

                                                                                                 Anusha Kamath

                                                                              Program Manager – Cultiv8

Is your product really needed in the market?

How do you identify if your product is a must – have?

To start with, HP has created a must – have product for me i.e my laptop without which my days don’t move forward. If you Have developed your dream product here are some points to focus on to identify if it is a must-have

  1. Does it really solves the customer problem or add any core value to them?
  2. What is the aha moment of your product?
  3. Measuring Retention
  1. Does it really solves the customer problem or add any core value to them?

Simply developing a product with advanced technology and exciting features alone doesn’t make it a worthy product in the market. Do the features in it really solve any real-life problems faced by the customers or add any core value to them is what matters. To make it simple, Google glass was introduced with so many exciting features but it couldn’t make it a place in the market because it wasn’t user friendly.

People purchase a product either for their need or for desire. First you must identify the core value, your product gives to your customers. If your product is really worth, no matter what it will attain a sustainable growth even by word of mouth or virality. You cannot make people love a substandard product even with huge effort of advertising and marketing. In order to make the people love your product they must experience the ‘aha’ moment.

  1. What is the ‘Aha’ moment?

Aha moment is when your product rally impresses its users and make them realize the core value and the benefits they receive from it. Your product should be built in such a way to give  a promising delivery of an Aha experience that the customers find it irresistible and fill a meaningful need. A product/ app/ service may give the ‘Aha’ moment either with a specialized feature or on continuous usage. To understand clearly, aha moment for Facebook is when you can find your old friends and able to connect with them, for Ola / Uber is to have a cab in front of just by few taps and the ability to track them. To identify that moment can be tricky but the following measures can help you out.

Must – have survey

A simple survey can let you know whether your product is loved by the customers or not. Let’s have a look at it.

How much will you be disappointed if —- product no longer existed?

  1. Very disappointed
  2. Somewhat disappointed
  3. Not disappointed
  4. I don’t use it

If someone tells me Google will stop working from tomorrow, I can’t even imagine how can I digest it because I merely can’t live without it.

Have you recommended this product to anyone?

Yes/No

Whom do you think would benefit more from this product?

Answers for these questions will help you decide your product’s impact on the customers. If this survey gives you a positive result, then you should move ahead with a survey requesting which features of your product excites the customers and areas to be improved else you should step back and concentrate on your product design.

  1. Measuring Retention

Once your product have passed the must have phase then next step is to measure the customer retention rate which is the number of users who continuously use your product. Having n number of features in your product may at times be confusing and cumbersome to use but at times removing or limiting certain features may result in effective usage. To know deep about how customers feel about your product you should find the right community to survey with right questions.

If the customers acquired initially doesn’t last long, the reason why they had left should be found.  If the existing users are not aware of the new versions/ features of your product there are chances that they may stop using it. The way you communicate the value and benefits to the existing users may convert them to potential customers which eventually will increase the retention rate. More the pleasure of using your product, more the retention rate.

                                                                                                            Srisakthi.K

                                                                                                                Cultiv8

Design Your Career- How to live life King Size?

I have heard this quote many times, “You need to follow your passion”. Its a cliche. ask a college kid what is his passion. I am sure he will not be able to give you an answer. Its the same everywhere in the world. Infact, many times when people express their passion it may not be their passion, it could very well be an inspiration drawn from others. Why is this happening? Why is that many people do not have passion? This is because Passion is something that you find in the midway of your career. you may even find your passion in the late stages of your career. Passion is not the beginning ; its the end point. 
 
The real problem is that people are not ready to risk their career once they have found out their passion. Many a times, they would have financially settled in their life and forgoing their career to choose their passion may be very daunting. Here we will talk about how people can still follow their passion and still not risk their financial stability using design led choices in life. after all at the end, there are only two regrets man can have in his death bed. First, not creating /spending time in relationships and Second, Risk you regret not taking. 
 
So once you have identified your passion take a  design-led approach to follow your passion with out sacrificing your career.
The design-led approach takes two steps. First, embracing the design mindset and second, following the Design Process. 
Lets touch base about the different mindsets before we delve into the design mindset. 
 
  1. Engineering Thinking: There is a straight forward solution that is available without any ambiguity. its a Mathematical approach.
  2. Business Thinking: Business Thinking has an end goal and we optimise the approach and resources to reach the end goal.
  3. Scientific Thinking: Scientific Thinking is based on empirical and measurable evidence. There is dome data from the past and about the future. Its a data-driven approach.
  4. Design Thinking: Design thinking embraces complete ambiguity. You do not have data. You do not know what to measure. There is no analysis. There is only human. Its a human driven approach. The idea is to start moving , get data, improve. 
 
So Design Thinking is all about realising that you are completely vulnerable and you are opening up to find solution. Vulnerability gives 10x scale. So once you feel vulnerable we can follow the process to follow your passion. Then the design process will help you take you to the goal. The design process looks like this

 
 
Empathize- Understand your problem. This is empathising . What is your passion? What is really pricking you?
Define- Once you have understood the problem. Define the problem. If possible define the problem in one statement.
Ideate- Its time for Radical Collaboration. You have defined the problem. Talk to people and ask for help. Make note on how you can solve the problem. You never know which ideas work so keep your mind open and note down all the ideas that you can get to solve your problem . 
Prototype- Now with all this ideas you have received , write a hypothesis on how you can go ahead and solve the problem. You are still not sure if the hypothesis will work but start small and give it a time frame. Write down the metrics that you want to measure in the time frame. 
Test- Implement the hypothesis you have written. You don’t have data now. Start implementing . Get the data and improve. 
 
A design-led approach can very well be a small but significant step to start working on your passion. The idea is not to get stuck  and start moving towards reaching your goal.
 
                                                                                                                        by
                                                                                                                Dr. B. Kaarthick

RECIPE for Success

I am a fitness freak or thats what i call myself. I love working out. I have always felt that keeping myself active also keeps me happy. A year ago i used to go to a gym  to workout, three to four days a week.  Other days i will find my own reasons to sleep although if i missed workout i used to feel guilty. In fact my driving force to go to the gym was guilt. I have joined a new athletics club, “Genesis Sports Club”, last year. To myself surprise I have started going to the ground every day off late. In fact, in the last one year my frequency of travel and work load has increased but I have started going to the ground every day i am in town. What has changed? Have i become more conscious about my health. Have i become less lazier? I did do an introspection and found that every day i go to the stadium i leave the stadium a little happier. Today my motivation to workout is not driven by guilt but it is driven by happiness. Every time when i feel lazy to get up in the morning I have this other part of my brain jumping out shouting, “ Your gonna miss the fun today”. I just jump out of bed and make sure i go the ground. Every day I have come back thoroughly refreshed even though I go through a gruelling workout almost every day.
I remember once hearing Mahatria say, “The success of the gym is not in having great infrastructure and equipment but the success of the gym is making sure that they can bring the clients to the gym every day”. I was not able to understand it clearly then, but today i can clearly describe what it means , the success of a service industry whether its is a gym , hotel, education institution, co-working space or any other service industry is not just about meeting the functional needs of the customer, it is also about meeting the emotional needs of the customer. I would even go on to use it as a differentiating factor for even doctors. a great doctor is not just someone who can cure you but he also has to give you the emotional comfort of making .
Today, to become very successful in business , it is not enough if you meet the functional needs of the customer, you also have to meet the emotional needs of the customer.  Let us say you go to a restaurant. good food and proper customer service is something that you expect out of the restaurant for sure. Thats the functional perspective of the restaurant. If you can make the customer leave the restaurant a bit happier than the moment he entered the restaurant than you are also addressing the emotional needs of the customer. In fact, a great service does not guarantee success. Service is only a technical transaction and thats not enough. To succeed in business you need to have both SERVICE and HOSPITALITY. If service is a technical transaction which satisfies the the functional needs than HOSPITALITY is the emotional transaction and you need both for a successful business venture.
I’m going to give you guys the best recipe you’ve ever had in your life, “The recipe for success”. And it only has two ingredients. So it’s really simple. “It’s 49 parts service and 51 parts hospitality”. Service handles the functional needs of the customer but more important hospitality handles the functional needs of the customer.
Now lets focus on how to make this happen. If we have to deliver a great hospitality then we have to first get over the notion of “Customer first or The customers is always right”.  No one can always be right. In order to make sure we deliver a great hospitality the first step is to  build a team that can take care of each other. If the team can work together and take care of each other than they can work together to better take care of their customers. On the contrary if there is differences in the team then the common objective of building great hospitality fails miserably. So make sure you build a GREAT TEAM and tell them the recipe for success.
                                                                                                                                                                                                By
                                                                                                                                                                                        Dr. B. Kaarthick
                                                                                                                                                                                        CEO – Cultiv8
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