To start testing new ideas, create a “validation plan” that includes what you’re validating, how you’ll conduct the experiment, and how you’ll reach your target customers. This plan helps prevent creating the wrong prototype and provides goals, hypothesis, experiment, testing, and metrics for success.
Step 1: Set a Validation Goal
First of all, what exactly are you validating or testing?
You validate a series of factors that make the startup idea viable.
Here are some criteria that may influence the viability of an idea:
- The market: determine market-solution fit
- The customer: determine solution-customer fit
- The problem: determine problem-solution fit
- The solution: determine solution-problem fit
Step 5: Validate, Learn & Repeat
The next step is to assess how well your prototype performs.
Gather feedback, analyze metrics, and conclude whether you have validated or invalidated your assumption goals in Step 1.
Did they use it?
Did they pay for it?
How NOT to validate your ideas?
- Asking your friends, families, and colleagues about your idea.
- Asking investors about your idea. They could offer their unique perspectives, however, opinion does not equal validation.
- Showing your prototype to the wrong people. Asking someone who is not one of your target customers about your prototype when they are not experiencing the problems you are attempting to solve.
- Listen to words not actions. “Great concept”, “I love the idea”, “This is so cool” “I think I will pay for it” is not validation. Where is their action? Did they use the prototype? Did they pay for it?
Step 2: Create a Hypothesis Statement
When you first come up with an idea, you’re basing it on untested assumptions.
How do you know if it makes sense?
You can create a list of assumptions based on criteria like target audience, problem, product features, and pricing model.
Then, you rank each of these assumptions and test the riskiest assumption related to your idea.
This means that if you never find out if (the assumption) is viable, you will build the wrong products → no one pays/uses → no business → fail.
Step 3: Set Up A Prototype
Now take one of your riskiest assumptions in Step 2 and build a prototype to test.
Let’s say you’re building a Gmail alternative that charges users $30/month to send emails (think Superhuman).
Your riskiest assumption might be:
- Will people want to pay this price to access features XYZ?
Next, choose the right prototype:
- low/high fidelity prototype
- single-feature MVP
- proof of concept
- minimal viable product (MVP)