Updated 27 September 18
So you have a killer idea for a startup. You're going to build it, grow it, sell it and then breeze through the rest of life as a successful entrepreneur. Sound good?
Well… before you quit your day job, draw up a business plan, or waste any time or money, you need to start with validating your idea.
‘Idea validation’ is the process of testing and proving your idea, and it can be done way before you have a physical product. So, how do you test an ‘idea’?
Test whether the problem is worth solving
Good products solve problems. So, before you ask everyone you know whether they think your app is a good idea, start by asking about the problem. Now, by all means use your best friend as a sound board, but be prepared for biased feedback. Speaking to people who actually experience the problem is the best way to get valuable insights. And remember the more people the better, but as a minimum we recommend you speak to between 5-10.
Test if your customers are actively seeking a solution
After speaking to your customers, create a simple website landing page that explains your solution and how it solves their pain points (you should have established these in your user interviews!). This will give you an idea as to whether a solution for this problem is in high demand. If a large number of people are willing to sign up or pre-order your product, you’ll know that your idea is probably worth building.
Test your product and solution
Once you've established that people want a solution to their problem, it’s time to test out what it could be. A great way to do this is to get out there and actually do what your app, website, or software will do once it's built.
For example, let’s say you were creating Deliveroo from scratch. Before you build the mobile app and hire the staff, the simplest way to test if it was going to work would be to deliver meals from restaurants to your customers yourself.
In the world of startups, we call this a Concierge M.V.P. and a lot of successful startups have taken this approach. When Airbnb first started, the founders tested their idea by putting up 3 air mattresses in their loft and giving away a free breakfast for any guests who stayed. Further down the line when they launched their site, the founders visited all of their hosts in New York to personally stay with them, write reviews and take professional photos of their homes.
Learn and improve your solution
How do you know if your customers like the service or product you’re providing? By gathering feedback.
You can do this very easily:
Once you've done all of this, rinse and repeat. Take their feedback, tweak your landing page, improve your solution and test it again.
After this research, you'll have a solid understanding of your customers, your problem and what the solution could be. But most importantly, you'll know if your ‘idea’ is one worth pursuing without having wasted any time or money. And the best bit? You'll now be in prime position to pitch for investment.