If you're a software engineer you've definitely thought about building your own app at some point, and if you haven't you should - you've got the superpowers to do it anyway!
On that note, You’d be surprised at how many established startups are still “validating” trying to get product-market fit.
Now before we go into validation, lets learn about the most over-used phrase in startups, no - not #hustle or #entrepreneur - product/market fit, this is the phenomenon where what you're building serves an incredible pain point to the exact audience you want, its a moment when you're no longer pushing your product but pulling back, telling your customers to hold off because you can't handle this scale - your numbers will no longer make sense to you, and you're just scratching to keep your app online
Product-Market fit is the nirvana every founder wants to achieve, I mean I don’t know about you, but the above sounds like a problem I’d want everyday, all day - and hey it’s different for every company, be aware.
1 Competitor Analysis
Yeah, I say this a 1000x a month, there is no idea in the world that hasn’t been tried in some way, you’ve just got to find out how they failed - and out execute. Competition is inevitable, if your product does well, you WILL have competition.
Remember if all your USP is, is an idea, you have a hobby not a business.
With that said, going onto the market, thinking like your prospective customer, type in solutions you’d expect to find. Analyse what competitors are doing - if you’ve got them, then you don’t need to spend much time on validation of the idea but instead validation of the execution.
Go to their facebook pages, their social media ads, and look at the comments and scout for the main pain points people are facing at the moment (can be UX, price, expense) and formulate your approach around that.
2 Talk to the customer
Sounds obvious but a good percentage of founders never talk to the customer, they just assume its a problem people have because its “obvious” . No - talk to your customer from day 1, you should be either building product or talking to customers, that’s your own job in the initial stages.
If you don’t know who to talk to or where to find them, that’s your first problem, why would you build a product for someone you don’t even know exists ?
So yes, talk to your customer, and ask them if they have this problem, if they’re in pain because of it, how much it costs them to solve it (important to know they actually solve the problem) and how often the encounter this issue.
In doing so, you almost build up a meta customer persona
3 Share a promise
Another super simple way is to build a website or landing page, the goal of the page is to gauge interest.
Now, its not as simple as throwing up a website and using interest to that site as a metric for success, your copy and messaging needs to be correct.
Compare the two below:
“Share car rides with random people using a mobile app to find them, and pay less than a taxi”
“Hate waiting for taxis ? With a click of a button, you have your own personal chauffeur, who’s cheaper than a taxi”
Get my point ? Don’t just vomit out a landing page and expect it to blow up, get the messaging right, test a few word versions and based on the conversion you can use it to gauge the interest you have on the product.
Share it with influencers in your space, with friends and people within your direct reach that might be effected by your product - make sure you share it with early adopters and innovators - if I shared the idea of Uber with my Dad he would have thought I was high.
Make sure your outreach audience has an appetite for innovation. In addition post it in forums and groups - reddit, hacker news, communities where your target market lives
4 Sell Before you build
This one tests your sales skills but at the same time lets you understand if people really see value in what you’re doing. We’re building a product for a client right now and he’s been invited to present at seminars and events based on his “idea”.
Is it new ? NOPE - there’s about 6 competitors in the market, but he was able to articulate the gap in the market and pinpoint the exact pain areas people are facing with existing solutions at the moment.
If you can gather interest, people actually sign an agreement on a product you can deliver, that’s some pretty decent validation you have going there.
This is basically what kickstarter is built for - get a prototype or even less and share the product and see if you can get paying customers
5 Analytics overload
This is when you’ve built out a small prototype already, don’t just launch and stay blind, analytics will be the bloodline of your business when you start.
Analytics and feedback loops - make sure you’re talking to your customer as often as possible, understanding what they like and don’t like about the product.
Observe drop off points, I.e places in the app that might be confusing or difficult for the customer in addition set up tools like intercom/drift so your customer can chat with you directly and you can build a stronger relationship with them
This way even with a small prototype that took you a couple of weeks to build, you’ll be able to confirm your hypothesis and add more fuel to the fire.
I've learnt this helping and observing all the successful startups and companies we work with at five2one and I encourage you to use a test and build approach as well
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