Validating your Idea

There has always been the team first or idea first discussion whenever someone thinks of starting a venture and more recently even YCombinator has decided to allow those without an idea but with a good team to apply. Having a great idea does help and as Anuj Khanna said, its important for you to believe in it completely. However, it is also important to get some initial validation to your idea as this will not only save you from making some costly mistakes but also boost your own confidence in your idea. Professor Juzar has said this and most of the entrepreneurs I have listened to reiterate the same initial steps to starting a great venture – Start with these questions.

  • Do you think what you are providing is creating significant value for anyone? Value should be so significant that people should curse you if you take that service away from them. Do you think it could happen?
  • Do you think there is big enough market for the service AND the market is easy to reach (without spending bootloads of money)?
  • Are you enjoying doing this? Do you see yourself doing this for several next years?
Once the answer to these questions is found and you are convinced you are ready to dive in. Its time for idea validation.

Step #1– Talk about it

Most of us start with asking our family and friends but that isn’t good enough. Its better to try and ensure that the people who validate your startup idea will be unafraid to give an honest opinion. Once again there is the decision of how much to reveal about your idea. I feel it is always best to talk about this with your mentor or someone knowledgeable in the field. I heard this somewhere but not exactly sure where : “People in the (Silicon) Valley are too busy to try and rip off your idea”

Other ways to do a sample of your startup idea is to find people who would take product surveys or samples. There are a lot of websites that cater to product surveys and paid product samples that are not only cheap and cost effective, but let you reach out to an unknown audience without giving away too much detail on what you’re planning to do

Step #2- Talk To Investors And VCs

This is a great way to test your startup ideas potential in the market. A lot of people however are sure to say that an investor or a VC could “steal” their idea, but this is not really true. Most investors and VCs have a reputation to keep in the Entrepreneur community.  It’s their job to find the good Entrepreneurs.  Almost everyone in the startup circle who knows what they’re doing, will echo the opinion that ideas come and go every day. Some even go so far as to ask VCs and investors to sign NDAs before revealing their idea. While this may not be a very polite way of getting someone’s feedback on what exactly you are doing- it does make sense if you are presenting someone your complete business plan. If it’s a raw idea, you risk damaging a relationship with a potential investor. Investors and VCs are good at judging what might work and what might not, but it’s important to have faith in your idea irrespective of what feedback you get. Some might strike your idea right off the board for certain reasons- but the key here is to find a way around the issue and come out unscathed.

Step #3- Customer feedback

It is important to get feedback about your product or service from the people who matter the most- customers and users.  However the tricky part here is to identify who exactly is our customer as it is impossible to satisfy everyone but the larger the satisfied customer base, the better.

Step #4 –The Numbers

One of the most important aspects of validating your startup idea is the financial side of it just like we were doing last week and the week before in class.

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