May 14, 2019

How do you balance idea validation with development during the early stages?


I've been following IH for a while now and recently came up with an idea trying to scratch my own itch. I started busting out a prototype, but I'd like to spend more time validating my idea before I invest a ton of time into developing the product.

How do you balance idea validation with development during the early stages?

  1. 3

    Don't balance it. Go all in on idea validation. If the idea REQUIRES a prototype (most don't) built it. Otherwise just talk to people, find others with the same pain, try to solve it without code (can a blog post help? Spreadsheet? PDF?) etc.

    Validate that idea.

    1. 1

      Do you have any advice for creating a landing page to gauge interest? Is there a better way to validate than trying to see how many people sign up for the idea?

      1. 2

        I would check out Ship by Product Hunt. It doesn't offer much customizability, which is probably for the best (so you don't spend too much time thinking about landing page design 😊).

        1. 1

          Thanks Derrick! I checked out Ship and I think I’m going to use it. This is exactly the type of advice I was looking for 😄.

      2. 1

        I wouldn't even create a landing page to start.

        This is literally what I would do.

        Make a list of 10 people who you think or know would be interested.

        Call each one. Ask them about their problem, about their pain, then pitch your idea and ask them if they are interested.

        If someone doesn't put their email in on your landing page, you have no idea why. Talking face to face you know why.

        DON'T just throw up a landing page. Talk to people. Good luck!

        1. 1

          what if a better coder comes to know of my idea in the validation stage and makes it faster than me?
          I ask this, because there is example of this happening in the hardware front( although depends on complexity of product too). few years back, a guy had raised money on Kickstarter for some selfie accessory and some Chinese manufacturers brought it to the market first.

          1. 1

            Could totally happen. But there is room for more than 1 service. How many social media scheduling apps are there? Email clients?

            Chinese companies ripping off Kickstarter designs is super common. But should that make you not try, or hesitate to talk to people?

            AND if the better coders doesn't do the work of actually talking to people like you are, whatever they produce will not work as well as yours. You can do it.

            Have you made your list of who you are going to talk to yet?

  2. 2

    You are asking the right question. I want to echo many of the replies here: you will not regret pausing your development efforts and having conversations with potential customers in your target market to be sure there is demand for what you are building.

    I highly recommend checking out The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick before having any customer conversations. This book is short and extremely actionable. It's so easy to get biased information and accidentally ask the wrong questions (I've been there).

    I would reach out directly to people via email to schedule a video chat with them for ~20 minutes (assuming you know where to find people who are in your market -- if not, I'd tackle that problem first!).

    Hope this helps!

    1. 1

      Thanks Derrick. Just purchased the book on Amazon... I’m starting to realize that it’s going to be a long road to going from developer to entrepreneur.

      1. 1

        You probably didn't need to purchase the book:

        I strongly agree with Derrick that the Mom Test is very very good. In fact, I think a well-designed survey based on the Mom Test and posted to is a very good way to validate an idea. That's how I validated Stowbots, and it didn't involve writing any code or learning how to build + host a website.

  3. 2

    I have the same struggle. I recently build an MVP. I've decided that I am not going to do any more product development until I get some idea validation. Developing is more fun, but I am trying to be disciplined. Not sure how it's going to work out, but that's my approach.

    1. 1

      Yeah I think it's a common problem. We're builders by heart so we naturally want to start anything by jumping in and getting our hands dirty with the code. Do you know how you would validate your ideas?

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        I am trying to interview potential users. I am not pitching my MVP, just asking them about their experience using similar products or how they solved problems I think I can solve. I am also trying to engage with users who have signed up for my free tier.

  4. 2

    You've got the right idea!

    One of the worst things you can do is invest a lot of time, energy, and cash into something that hasn't been validated. Have you heard of/read the book 'The Lean Startup'? If not I'd recommend reading it. Ideally you start of validating an idea, and then start creating a productized solution, an MVP.

    The MVP could be a landing page though to see what features/messaging jive the most with your target audience, or it could be a version of your product that offers light, yet effective, functionality.

    And from there you iterate - what do people like the most, what do they find challenging, what functionality helps them reach their goals, what gets in the way? You should be constantly validating and iterating as your product evolves - getting feedback and insights from users/prospects then actioning it, getting feedback from the changes rinse and repeat.

    I'd also recommend the book 'Talking to Humans' it's a short quick read but does a great job explaining idea validation.

  5. 2

    The idea seems already validated as you're doing a sort of copy of right ?

    You just need to build the community ^^ As I've read yesterday :

    "Build an audience

    Validate an idea or see if it’s already validated for you

    —- see if you can get anyone to pay for it without having anything in place ——

    Build a product that delivers some value

    Pitch product to your audience

    Get feedback, make incremental improvements

    Keep communication open and continue talking to customers, keep making their life easier.

    Learn a million ways to grow your product. There is so much info out there and here on just about everything you want to know."

    You're at step 1, step 2 is already validated by someone else than you ^^

    1. 1

      What do you think is the best resource for learning to grow your product?

      1. 2

        As French, I personaly like a lot startupfood channel at youtube. They are doing english videos for some years so you may take a look, they have a shit ton of videos ^^

        But most of the technics to grow are relative to your industry I think, they wont tell you which website exactly you should target as each industry has its own specificity. Build a product for the community you spend time into, so you'll know the best practices, platforms etc ^^

        GL :P

  6. 1

    I started talking with people first, and identified a few pain points, after which I started development work. Even as I'm going for two years now I still talk with people, and sometimes show them parts of the prototype. With this prototype I'm aiming for the 'WOW' factor. This way I already have a lots of people wanting to buy my stuff even before it's released, which is great.

  7. 1

    I thinking to talk on here helps. Ask lots of potential users loads of questions and iterate towards an MVP design to put into dev. Then iterate on the dev when you realize what works. 10k should cover you for the initial build

  8. 1

    Idea validation: Is there competitors already in the market? Have they been around a while? Do they look to be growing over time?

    If the answer is yes to all these then I guess your idea is validated to some degree. And even if the answer is no to one or all of these, it doesn't mean your idea is invalid remember.

    I'd also like to point out that 'developing the product' can mean two very different things. There is a difference between product development, ie. actually coding and physically creating the product; and product development - where you plan future value by driving the product through its potential features and capabilities (a priorities list of sorts).

    I know what it's like, and I do it myself - dive straight into coding and building. Try to take a look at the bigger picture from an early stage and avoid as much technical debt as you can. I've rewrote Survais twice since it's very early MVP. But it is finally in a good place for extensibility and reduced technical debt (for now).

    Develop your product before you start developing the actual product.

  9. 1

    Do you have a link so we can check it out?

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      I don't yet. I'm still working on creating a landing page to gauge interest. Any advice or resources for creating that would be appreciated.

      1. 1

        how about a paper prototype? or a sketch?

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