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Is it ever ok not to validate your idea?

Before you say "nope," let me try to add some context...

My first idea I tried, I validated. But when I validated with surveys, I derived the wrong answer or asked the wrong question. Without getting into too much detail, the product was a coaching product to help the buyer. The buyer had the problems, but they were the source of them, whether they wanted to believe it or not. I have had success helping this group realize "oh it's me!" and fix the problem, making their entire system better. But, it really takes work to work it through their heads that it's them, and not everyone else.

I asked people who I had already successfully coached, and I asked others who I hadn't worked with with non-leading questions - which I think allowed them to interpret it as I'd help them fix their outside problems. In the end, either the market wasn't there, or I wasn't the person to perfect this recipe and the project ended up going nowhere. Learned a lot.

This new project I'm working on, I'm struggling with validating the topic again. It's basically helping programmers with security concepts. Think of it like locksmiths. People who are locksmiths, love it, are good at it, and you need them. But you really don't think about them until you need them. That's my fear with my new product idea. I know the need is there, but I don't know if people know they need it.

That sounds to me like I need to validate it. But I'm not sure if that information would be useful. It's like locksmiths again. I would think most of you would say I don't really need a locksmith in my area. Or you'd answer yeah I'd use a locksmith, but never actually then need to. But the few people who get locked out or get a key broke off in their lock, they'd be way out of lock if that locksmith hadn't launched their business.

So I'd love the community's thoughts on this :)

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    If people don't know they have a problem then the problem isn't a serious enough problem for them to spend money on a solution. I would refine your ideal customer down to people who know they have the problem and feel the problem strongly. Perhaps something like "entry level programmer at a cyber security firm", or "undergrad programming student studying cyber security" (for example).

    Once you have some idea of who you think will feel this problem, you need to conduct user interviews on about ~10 of those people. Forget surveys, they aren't good enough. Find real life people to talk to about the topic. Leverage your network or find people on Linkedin and throw them an amazon gift card in exchange for a 30 minute call. This video is a great tutorial on how to conduct user interviews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAws7eXItMk

    After these user interviews you should have a good idea if you are headed in the right direction with your idea. More than likely these interviews will help guide you in a better direction than you were heading before.

    Hope this helps.

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      Thanks for the tips. Today I started creating personas of programmers I've ran into - splitting them into ones I want to work with and ones I don't. It really forced me to think about not having to validate against everyone - just my ideal personas. Your comment has made me feel like I'm on the right path.

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    Never-ever-ever-ever write a line of code without validating the idea (ideally through landing page)!

    Take this as a rule. You'll thank me later :)

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      Thanks :) I'd say 90% of this is educational, 10% is code-based stuff - but I get your point. I don't have anything in mind to "code" to get me to where I need to go for a long time. But I take your comment to mean don't "create" before you validate. :)

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    Hi @aaronsaray , I think validation can mean different things. In my experience what I've realized is that surveys don't work. The best way IMHO is create an MVP/Landing page and put it out there. That will help you gauge the interest and also get some feedback on important features that users are looking for. I'm taking this approach with http://notiondb.io.

    I had 137 views for the post, 33 clicks and 4 signups (from IndieHackers). This provided me a good idea of the level if interest in a product like this. I got some useful feedback as well.

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    A while ago, I read an interesting comment on IH:

    Whenever you’re starting something, ask yourself how that problem could be solved by a single founder with a spreadsheet.

    That allows you to test the demand with very little effort. If you get customers, you have the validation you need and can spend time improving your solution.

    On a sitenote, regarding your previous business: I think it’s really hard to sell a product to people that tells them they are wrong.

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    Why not target people who are already "locked out" (lost data, had a breach, etc.) and looking for a solution to it, or are trying to figure out how to stop it from happening again? They're the ones who are already facing the problem and most likely to pay for it to not happen again, I would think.

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