Startup Validation: How to validate your business idea?
For any business to see the light of the day, it needs to have a genuine and innovative business idea that will not only continue to generate income but also sustain the demand. It is an idea that lays the groundwork for business and gives it the potential to not only be sustainable but also have the potential to grow.
A business idea is a concept centered around a certain product or service that can be offered for money and be used for financial gain. Such an idea and the product or service emanating from it should satisfy certain criteria for it to be profitable and sustainable. So, every startup has to take some necessary steps to analyze the market to understand the demand, profitability, and sustainability of their business idea.
This process of analyzing and understanding the market to check the sustainability of a business idea is called market validation or startup validation. We will be delving into the details of startup validation in this article.
What makes a good startup idea?
Your startup idea needs to fulfill a need in the market and you need to know how to fulfill it. So, it can be said that a good startup idea solves a problem for a specific group of people and has the potential to be an actual profitable product. An idea worth pursuing needs to be cost-effective to produce, so that the startup can grow without much constraint. Startups should be able to become profitable and scalable without excessive investment and financial inputs.
One needs to be an expert in his/her niche to be able to identify the gaps in the market which will allow for the vision of a worthy startup idea to develop. However, if you yourself have no idea about how to fix the problem you want to solve, then you’ll have a lot of trouble building a successful startup. In addition, your family members and friends should not be the people to determine if an idea is good and viable or not.
You’ll have to put some real work and research into invalidating or validating your startup idea. But, it’s a lot less work than building an entire startup based on an unsubstantiated idea. A prolific programmer, writer, and investor, Paul Graham says, “The very best startup ideas have three things in common: they are something that the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build and that few others realize are worth doing. Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all began this way”.
Knowing how your idea will solve a problem in people’s lives will help you validate your idea when you do market research, competitive analysis, and personal outreach. In addition, your startup idea should consist of hypotheses of your value proposition and unique selling proposition. A unique selling proposition shows how you’re different from the competition and shows what makes you stand out. A value proposition shows people what problem you’re solving for them and how they’ll benefit.
Steps to validate your startup idea
You will have to follow these general steps to validate your startup idea:
Ways to test and validate your startup idea
There are multiple ways and strategies you can adopt to test and validate or invalidate your startup idea. In this section, we will discuss the primary strategies used to validate startup ideas.
1. Fake Door Testing
A fake door test is simply a marketing(landing) page, ad, button, or another asset that advertises a product that is yet to be made. Fake door testing is the primary idea testing method of Zynga games. They create a 5 word summary of a new game they are considering, make a few ads related to it, and put it up on various prominent high-traffic websites. They only build games that attract a certain number of “clicks” on their fake door.
A fake door could be the landing page for your future website or it could be Facebook or Instagram ad. Your aim is to find out how many people are interested in your offerings and you can study that with ad analytics and signups. You also get to know various other details like the demographics of the people who have shown interest, what geographical location they are from, what language do they speak, from where did they land on your page, and a lot more.
A simple way of setting up a fake door test is by creating a landing page for your future business, and pointing a few Google Ads or Facebook Ads to the page. If your target demographic clicks on the ads, then that indicates that there is some interest. If not, then you know that your advertised product or service offering needs to change. It is also a good practice to consider putting a “sign-up for updates” mailing-list form on your landing page. That way when you are ready to actually build the product or provide the service, you have the email addresses of interested customers.
2. Storyboard testing
Storyboard testing is a form of informal, qualitative testing that will require you to get out of the building and talk to potential customers. To run this test, you first need to draw out your idea in the form of a storyboard. A storyboard is a graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in a sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing an idea or a product. The storyboard should be precise and cover the main problem your customers face and how your business will solve it.
Next, you need to look for your target customers and strike up some conversation related to your idea. It is highly recommended that you check out local meetups to find potential customers. Join the local communities and meetups with like-minded people and spark a conversation with them about your idea. Tell them what problem you are solving, what you plan to offer and get better insights into the validity of your business idea.
3. Concierge MVP
MVP here refers to Minimum Viable Product which is such a barebones product that has just enough features to satisfy early customer needs and provide feedback for future product development. Gathering insights from MVP is quite inexpensive as you only need to implement core features to effectively launch the product. An MVP is used so you can test the hypothesis of your startup idea in a real-time environment.
It’s the cheapest way around actually building your idea into a complete and final product or service. But it can still cost a decent sum of money to just launch your barebones product. So, you should calculate an estimate for that beforehand and be ready for such expenditure.
Let us take an example of a hypothetical business idea of an app for providing pet grooming services at the doorsteps of customers. For your Minimum Viable Product, you would find a few dog owners, give them your contact information and let them know that they can call you for professional pet grooming services at their homes. From this MVP, you can get data like how often do pet owners want their pets groomed, what kind of pets need to be groomed at what intervals, what kind of special requests are made by customers, and a lot more. In this way, you can learn more about the nuances and minute details of what your product needs to offer and how does it need to offer it.
4. Crowdfunding Campaign
This is an extremely popular and efficient way of validating a business idea and getting funding for further operations and management. Successful companies use crowdfunding a lot of times when they want to launch a new product on the market and need to get validation before making an investment.
However, running a successful crowdfunding campaign is not an easy task, and the effort required shouldn’t be underestimated. The idea that you will start a campaign, share it with your friends and money will come with a snowball effect is not an easy feat and only comes when you are doing a lot of things right. Succeeding at a crowdfunding campaign is pretty difficult, and in most cases, you won’t get the money pledged unless you achieve the funding target.
The thought of starting your own independent business is an exhilarating one. And once you have made up your mind about it, the last thing you would want to do is be careless with it.
Before starting anything concrete, make sure you have a genuine startup idea and then validate it with market research, customer interviews, providing MVP, or any other practical way. It is extremely important to see the market viability of a product before you make a big investment and start building the product.
With proper market validation, you can be saved from a lot of headaches and monetary losses. It is best to spend a month or two on market validation rather than spending a year building the product, only to find out that very few people actually need it. That extra time spent on validation will give you great valuable insights about your product so that you will know exactly ‘what’ you need to make, ‘how much’ you need to make and ‘how’ are you going to make it!