A great business always starts with a great idea! Have you heard this one before?
As inspiring as it can appear, this notion is invalid, just like a great idea without proper validation. If every subjectively good idea made it into a functioning product, the market would look completely different today.
To answer the above question, we can say that: “A possible start to a successful business is an idea validated with a real audience”.
What is Idea Validation?
Idea Validation is the process of testing and validating a product/business idea before the launch. The goal of idea validation is to expose your potential product to the end user and see what the user response might be after the launch.
Why should you validate a business idea?
Idea validation takes place before the first large financial investment. The goal of idea validation is to decide whether it is worth the foregoing. You figure out if the idea is simply great in theory or if it fits an existing market and solves a user’s problem.
Think about it this way. Creating a solution and launching it right away to test it on the go is like diving into a deep unknown lake after taking swimming lessons on YouTube. Idea validation is still jumping into a huge lake but you already know how to swim and where the current may take you.
What is NOT Idea Validation?
Any type of assumption is not an idea validation. Even if it there is nothing that could stop it from working in theory, validation needs physical and data proof that the idea is viable.
Know your user!
Just like your product, your users will be real. You cannot validate a product in theory with the imaginary audience.
One of the newest approaches when it comes to establishing a perfect user persona pinpoints a pain, a problem. Before it was common to focus on age, demographics, preferences — anything that would allow us to create an image of a user based on given details.
Today, with the technological progress and accessibility of goods and services, the products are no longer so clearly divided by demographic groups. They are divided by what problem they solve. Pick your test users based on their pain — you will be surprised how varied and eye-opening the feedback is.
Avoid validating the idea on your friends and relatives. No matter how hard they try, their opinion will be biased because they don’t want to hurt you. You need a neutral user who only has his interests in mind.
We have also touched the danger of testing the product with the “Mom” group of people inour interview with Ewoud Uphof on growth hacking.
Focus on the problem before the solution
Make your solution appear from the problem, not the other way round. Coming up with a customer pain for the sake of fitting the product is artificial and may not be viable in the real world. Idea validation will help you adjust your product/service to the existing problem.
It will also help make the shortcut between the problem and the solution fast and smooth. Any customer will be ready to pay more for a quick and effortless solution. You can get there by defining the problem more before the test and the development.
What are some of the possible ways to validate a business idea?
One of the ways to validate an idea is to conduct customer interviews. There are several things to keep in mind if this is how you decide to proceed.
- Conduct an important number of interviews. To validate the idea, you need significant stats and data. The more you get, the more you can bet on your product/service.
- Make sure the interviews are long enough. Take time to break the ice, get to know the interviewee, establish the connection. Any extra minute spent on the interview is a chance to get a more precise feedback.
- Go for in-person interview. As in-person, as the hygienic requirements can allow. Schedule a video call to discuss the product. The interviewee won’t get distracted and you can elaborate on the question to get deeper feedback.
- If possible, more than one person should conduct the interview. Different people hear different things, and with more interviewers the perfect average conclusion will be easier to reach.
Ask: “Why would you buy it?”. This is when you get the sense of your customer’s pain.
Pushing further during an interview
Do not settle for “Yeah, I like your product”. Go deeper and get the actual feedback — to the point of asking the interviewee to purchase the product/solution directly.
Let us give as example a user interview process that happened to one of our partners.
They were launching a new ice-cream delivery service. The product was marketed as low-calorie and it could be delivered in 6-packs to the customer’s door.
One interviewee said she loved the concept. The partner went further and suggested she bought a 6-pack right away. She immediately hesitated. Why?
Turns out, money wasn’t the issue. She didn’t want to have the whole pack of ice-cream at home at once. For her a pint of ice-cream was something she bought when she didn’t feel good about something. When it came to ice-cream, she just wanted one pint to binge on and get it over with. Having a full stock of ice-cream in the fridge? “I’d eat the whole thing in a week!”, she said.
The product idea was great. It solved more than one problem (delivery and nutritional value). However, the real user intentions behind shopping for this type of product were completely different. This is what shows whether there is a real need for the product on the market.
Liking is not buying! Like we said before, ask: “Why?”.
When your solution matches the problem of several interviewees, you can say you have reached your validation goal.
You can validate a business idea by creating a landing page for your product.
Once you have the user and the solution, you can start brainstorming on a wireframe with your team. Then, you can proceed onto building a landing page.
For idea validation (remember, this is not a product launch yet, don’t go overboard!), your landing page should represent several clear things.
- What is the service/product/solution?
- Who it is for
- What problem it solves
Make sure that it is clear the landing page represents a beta test, not a finished solution. In order to validate the idea via the landing page you can:
- Drive ads traffic to the landing page if your budget allows it
- Use organic traffic — it will take longer but it is also a viable way to proceed
You can reach a validation goal with a landing page in a few ways.
- Analyze the conversion. Data does not lie! If you have a real user audience, you have the answer in the data.
- Add a Typeform to your landing page. The percentage of users who fill it in, as well as their answers, will give you a precise answer.
Would you like us to give you a hand with a landing page for your product? Contact us and we will be happy to help!
At Moqod we work closely with the Lean Startup method. Rapid prototypes are one of the most efficient key tools to validate the idea in Agile.
A clickable rapid prototype is an excellent way to test the viability of your product/solution/service. It puts the user in the center of the problem and it gives real feedback.
Whether you are a first-time entrepreneur or this is your umpteenth business idea, Idea validation is only beneficial for you. For those who are in the starting phase, it is a perfect way to ensure that their first investments have factual ground under them. For those who already have some experience, idea validation is an excellent way to get out of their head and expand their view on the customer’s problems.