Can You Really Validate an Idea?

by Ry Walker

Validation is a journey from "I wonder if this is a good idea" to "we have a profitable company."

If your idea doesn't suck, you're likely going to get early, positive feedback. This can mislead you into thinking the idea is "validated" — and off you go to build — especially if you're a developer — because building is fun.

Instead, dig a little deeper. Ask people for pre-orders with a specific price, before building anything. Do it yourself. Don't task it out. The goal is to learn from the objections, not actually get orders. People will shift into "buyer" mode — and their REAL objections will come out. Or you'll realize that you've not actually been talking to your target market, which can be dangerous.

With real objections, you have something to work with. If you start building before getting objections, your risk of failure increases.

Really learn from your target market, and build a MVP that solves real problems, and try to collect revenue ASAP. Launch early and ask for money. Expect failure. Your product will be screwed up in enough ways that nobody will pay you. Then, keep working on it until you can get people to pay you. Or eventually give up.

This is all incredibly messy, like life, and there are so many variables that following Lean Startup and Agile principles don't guarantee success.

Dan Norris observed how much easier it is to launch a service. First-time entrepreneurs should build a company that wraps a small product with services vs. doing a pure product as their first entrepreneurial venture, which reduces risk, and by definition requires conversations with customers.

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