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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

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

EQ for Entrepreneurs

When emotional intelligence first surfaced as a concept, it served as an explanation to the curious finding that about 70% of the people with an average IQ have a better performance than those with the highest IQ.

This changed the way we perceive success and where its source is. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is an essential factor that makes some entrepreneurs stand out from others. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is that “something” within us that has an effect on how we manage our behavioural patterns, handle social situations, and make personal decisions that lead to positive results.

 

Significant aspects of EQ:

Self-awareness

 When we take emotional intelligence into account, self-awareness differs from what many people define as “knowing yourself”, or in other words, taking up strategies such as self-assessments, writing journals, and analyzing what other people think of you. It is more than just being knowledgeable about your strengths and weaknesses.

Emotional intelligence is a lot more about being aware of what you are actually feeling in a particular situation. A lot of people have emotional responses to events that they have no awareness of. When asked about how they feel, they will give you one of the basic answers such as happy, angry, sad, and the like.

Being more self-aware is actually about paying attention to the state of your emotions at regular intervals during the day. This way you get to be more aware of the subtle variations in your emotions, and what exactly is influencing them. This is important when you are faced with new information, interacting with your colleagues or clients, or changing your environment.

In order to work on your self-awareness, you should meditate and develop a habit of examining your emotions before an important meeting or a conversation with a client.

Self-management

When you become more aware of your emotions in particular situations, you enable yourself to properly manage them. Self-management is all about being completely aware of what you are feeling, and therefore being capable to choose the appropriate response in the given circumstances.

There is a huge difference between raging out when you’re marketing manager makes a mistake in your email marketing campaign, and being aware of how you are feeling and choosing to be compassionate about the situation.

However, you should know the difference between self-management and self-containment. You can’t call it self-awareness when you’re walking around with a fake smile and saying everything is working out just fine.

In order to truly master self-management, you need to work on accepting what you are feeling. While you can alter your emotional response to a certain situation, most often you won’t be able to just shut off the emotions that you are experiencing. Accept your feelings instead of bottling them up, and you will be able to come up with an appropriate way to respond to what’s going on.

Social awareness

Social awareness, or what most people call empathy, is what defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

In order to be truly empathetic, you need to be completely present to people that surround us, so that we can sense when they are feeling and anticipate the emotional changes. We also need to be aware of ourselves and more vulnerable so that we are able to identify with all the emotions that another person is having.

People are often surprised by the fact that being more vulnerable and self-aware boosts your ability to be empathetic. But it is a fact that it is like language – you won’t understand what others are saying if you don’t speak it. By taking up meditation and exercising your mind, you will be able to be more present in your workplace and have a better understanding of what your colleagues and clients are feeling.

In the end, you can just be straightforward and ask them, to try and confirm your understanding of their emotional state.

Relationship management

Once you have mastered the previous three skills, you will be able to manage your relationships with people in the best possible way. Forming beneficial relationships depends on three crucial skills: always being curious about what motivates other people and what brings given situations about, believing that everyone has the best intentions, and being open when it comes to communicating your emotions and thoughts.

The fact that you are working on your emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that the person you are communicating with is doing the same. Therefore, when interacting with others, you should always be curious about their behaviour, so that you can learn how self-aware they are and how they manage their emotions.

The importance of assuming the best is in keeping a positive mind and bringing about positive outcomes. In most cases, people are just looking for a way to gain something beneficial from the interaction, the same way as you are, and being the bigger person is the best way for you to go.

This changed the way we perceive success and where its source is. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is an essential factor that makes some entrepreneurs stand out from others. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is that “something” within us that has an effect on how we manage our behavioural patterns, handle social situations, and make personal decisions that lead to positive results.

How to build products that customers Love?

Last week we had team discussion with the sales team of METI, an IIoT company, who has the reputation of building amazing products, especially hardware.  We were discussing on what value addition the products we’re offering to their customers. The main value addition that METI emphasised was remote monitoring. But we wanted to get deeper and understand why customers wanted Remote Monitoring Solutions.
We met their customer which was an Engineering Services company and had a two-hour discussion. The process of the interview is as follows 
Meti: Why do you need a remote monitoring solution? 
Company: To do energy monitoring in our foundries. 
Meti: Why do you need energy monitoring in the foundries? 
Company: Want to check if the furnace is fully loaded. 
Meti: Why do have to check if the furnace is fully loaded? 
Company: Otherwise there will be wastage of power. 
Meti: Why do you say power is wasted if the furnace is not fully loaded? 
Company: Whether the furnace is not fully loaded or not, the furnace will consume the same amount of power. If the furnace is fully loaded then the entire power is efficiently utilised, otherwise, power is wasted. 
Meti: Is there a benchmark for comparison? 
Company: Yes. Usually, it takes 590 units to melt one ton of metal.  
Meti: How does remote monitoring help you achieve your goal? What is the goal? 
Company: Remote monitoring helps us understand the power consumption pattern. We estimate the power consumption pattern every minute and the quantity of metal melted in the foundry. This will help us understand if the foundry is working in full efficiency. In other words, we understand if the machine is running is the maximum capacity or is it under-utilised which only means power is wasted.  
METI: Can you please elaborate quantitatively? 
An optimal value to melt one tonne of metal is 590 units. If we can do that 610 units, it’s still productive. The manager showed the data wherein before the remote monitoring system was employed, the company was consuming 710 units to melt one tonne because of under utilisation of machines. Remote monitoring helped them to reduce the power consumption to 610 units/ton. 
Meti: What happens without a remote monitoring solution? Cant we not monitor it manually? 
Company: If there is no remote monitoring solution then there must be a supervisor who has to go and inspect the machines every one hour and come back with a report. It only helps in a post-mortem. It does not help the system take a timely corrective action. Even if a sample is collected every one hour, it will not be enough for optimisation as the pattern varies in a minute to minute basis.  
Meti: What is the power consumption of the unit? 
Company: The power consumption of the factory is 50 lakh unit. The foundry consumes 48 lakh units. 
Meti: How many tons do you melt every month? 
Company: 3000 tons 
Meti: what are the other value additions that you derive out of real-time monitoring? 
Company: If we are able to understand the maximum load duration and the period, we shall work to keep the maximum load off the peak hours (6-9pm). Further, if the maximum load is kept after 10 pm, we also get a 20% rebate. 
Meti: What else sir? 
Company: Remote monitoring also helps to maintain the power factor, apart from optimising the furnace usage. 
Meti: What else do we compute from the patterns? 
Company: The solution has helped to improve /maintain the power factor and also compute the peak load. Without a real-time date, it will be impossible to calculate and maintain both of these parameters. It also makes sure we can keep our Maximum Demand in check thereby avoiding penalty.  
Meti: How did you decide to buy the solution? 
Company: Earlier readings used to be taken every one hour. Every tonne consumed almost 700 units.590 units is the benchmark. But you will find everyone is working all the time. Only when you know the loading pattern; you will know to how to make it efficient. The load has to be full for effective power consumption.  
Meti: History of energy monitoring : 
Company: Analog- mainly used to protect the switchboard. Analog meter was replaced by Digital energy meter. Now it has moved to Industry 4.0.  
Meti: Future expectations? 
Company: 1. Production report needs to be generated every month. The company should work to generate the report effortlessly.  
                  2. Energy consumption every minute. Patterns have to captured.  
                  3. Help us learn good practices from other companies.  
 
How to build products that customers Love
Inference:
Insights for METi after the interview. 
Having bought the product, the company was able to achieve ROI of  71% in less than 30 days.
Apart, the device also helped the company to maintain the power factor and also calculate the maximum power demand.
“All these things, we were able to achieve effortlessly”, These were the right words from the manager
This is real value addition, not Remote Monitoring. METI is now trying to position itself differently now with these insights. 
Often, startups do not understand customer needs. Many products are launched on the market with a lot of assumptions. The biggest problem with these assumptions is that the startups do not know how to position the product in the market, even worse, if these assumptions fail, then the whole business collapses.  
If you want to build a product that customers love, then build the product with the customer. Even better, let the customer build the product for you.
                                          By
Dr.Kaarthick                
CEO                             
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