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.
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!)
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.
Program Manager – Cultiv8