A startup exists to solve a problem or a pain point.
Upon coming up with the idea for a startup, the founders may choose to invest time and capital immediately into developing a product to solve a pain point.
Alternatively, they may choose to test whether this pain point exists before spending more time and capital in the product.
This is to avoid the situation where time is spent developing a product or solution that nobody wants or where demand is weak.
The smarter option is to first establish the intensity of the painpoint on the customer.
It could be that the pain exists only to a moderate degree. A solution may be nice to have but may not be needed asap.
In such a scenario, the customer is able to live without a solution or with an alternative despite it being imperfect.
It is where the pain point is serious enough and where a good proportion of customers are willing to pay for the solution can the idea be said to be ‘validated’.
The founder can then pour in more capital and effort, developing the product with good confidence that it is something the customers need.
This concept was famously set in various books, including ‘The Lean Startup by’ Eric Ries.
One simple example of a process to validate an idea would be:
Reach out to a sample of intended users or customers and take them through a description of the proposed product or solution. This can be done through –
1.A landing page on the web describing the solution. Advertise digitally to pull visitors to the page. Track the level of favourable response from the visitors to the page.
2. Face to face conversations with intended users – approach them in a public space, attend relevant events, etc. Document the response and feedback from the users.
3. Reaching out to users via direct email/calls, social media or via third party agents. Track the level of favourable response and feedback.
Before reaching out to the users set a benchmark for what would constitute a successful level of response. If the response received achieves or exceeds this benchmark, then indications are that there is a serious enough pain point.
If not, listen to the feedback and change the idea accordingly. It may be that the idea can be tweaked or ‘pivoted’ to address a different but related pain point or a diverse customer group. Subsequently, test out the pivoted idea using the same process.
With this process, a founder can find out objectively the right product or solution to focus on instead of developing something where demand is weak.
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Image Credit: Olav Ahrens Røtne