Ideas and Validation January 13, 2021

Picking what idea to work on next?

Rob Jiang @kool

Do you have any frameworks for picking the next idea to begin validating / MVP'ing?

After a couple of misses last year (no regrets at all, just not the best timing for those products), I am at a point where I am looking to start the next big side project.

I have spent the last month documenting all types of ideas that I have. I made it a goal to write at least 1-2 ideas every day.

It was tough at first, but eventually I went from (a) struggling to think of ideas to (b) where I am now: a notion page of around 40+ ideas across different domains. Many of these ideas came from conversations with people in various industries such as real estate, gaming, etc. Others came from taking ideas from one industry and putting it another.

While ideation is extremely fun, I am now itching to begin validating ideas, building MVP splash pages, and interacting with potential customers.

But with so many ideas, I am not sure which ones to start with first.

Do you have a criteria that you use to pick the next idea to pick up and work on? Do you have any recommendations for how I could approach next steps?

  1. 9

    Personally I choose things that I believe will maintain my interest for years to come, do research around it, write about stuff, connect with people and then work to see how it can make money.

    There's some great links in the right hand side of Ideas and Validation, I keep pointing people to How to brainstorm great business ideas.

  2. 4

    Thats what I write at (more of saas related)

  3. 2

    Great post, I have a ledger of ideas that I saved over the last 20 years as well.
    In terms of launching something I always lean towards something that I can ship within a month, anything longer than that is not only exhausting mentally but has a higher chance of never got shipped.
    Good luck!

  4. 2

    I personally chose the ideas that would solve my own problem or trouble. Without any domain restrain. But if I'm not experiencing the problem myself or never experienced, I just don't prefer that idea.

    It's hard to create something really great for those kind of ideas, at least for me. To be clear it's not that hard to come up with ideas or create something, usually those things turned out to be out of point.

    I use mom test, and always build a landing page with some mockups. That is really great way to get comments. I believe comments are valuable.

    I tried to DM all my friends that might have the same problem and ask question about the problem not the product? I try to understand how they solve it right now.

    Most importantly how much it makes me excited. That's the most important part, I think. Because it's hard to keep up with the idea even it doesn't get a lot of traction.

  5. 2

    I was in the same spot as you, tons of ideas (a list in my notes app) but not sure on which one I should work. I would say, go down your ideas and take the one that you think you like the most to work on and has the biggest potential.

    Then, to validate it find your target audience, try to find them on insta/twitter. When you found them simply give your idea a name, get the domain and start an account, go follow your target audience. Come up with some fun daily content (challenges) speak with people.

    (For me it helped a lot to make a challenge and made it possible for people to answer in my story, then I could easily start a chat with them based on their answer).

    Get as many people as you can💪💪 when people ask when your idea is project is finally finished you know it is validated and you need to get to work ASAP to actually make it😂

    While making the product your reach can come in handy, make stories and let your potential customers decide colours/ features whatever, get them involved.

    If you only read this: pick one idea, make an insta and approach potential clients.

    Good luck!💪💪

    1. 1

      Thanks this is a great hack... I love the instagram idea especially since DMs are more open.

  6. 2

    I believe scratching your own itch may be a good start point. At least you need to have some interest in the subject area. Also, try to imagine: if you go with this particular idea, where do you want to be in 1-2-5-10 years? If the future with this idea doesn't look good, try another one.

  7. 2

    if you have an audience you can ask your audience to pick your next project. List out your ideas in a public way, and invite your audience to vote on which one to work on next. If they are small projects you can pick a day of the month (or similar) to see which project has the most votes and pivot to that project if the current one is not gaining traction or if you are bored. It has the added benefit of potential mini-validation that others want you to work on it.

    I did something like this on my blog ( -scroll to the bottom of page and click the 'Show start-ups' button ... however through procrastination i never really kept up with), but i don't have an audience so no one sees or votes on my ideas.

  8. 2

    I'm in the same position as you are. Just dumped and categorized my ideas in notion! Which I agree was fun!
    Now I am staring at it trying to come up with what to do next, do you pick the lowest hanging fruit or you go for the fences.

  9. 2

    I've got 2 steps to my ideation process.

    First is getting the idea down on paper (spreadsheet) and doing quick scan of the qualities this idea has based on my "ideal" project. Here's a screenshot of the rubric. I do this with every idea, no matter how wonky it is.

    Every once in a while I come across something where I think it's worthwhile to explore it deeper. For that I fill in my validation template in Notion. I'm sure there's more I could add to this template, but even with it's current content it's enough to make sure I've thought about most of the important things, and written them down. Here's a filled-out version (idea's up for grabs I'm not pursuing it).

    Goal at the end of this is to know what your problem, customer, acquisition channels could be, as well as the main risks to the business that you're going to now go and validate/invalidate by talking to your customers about their problems via the acquisition channels.

    I've found this helpful, hope you find it helpful too. Feel free to ask any followup questions you may have.

    1. 3

      Do you then go with the lowest or highest score?

  10. 1

    Learn how to properly test and validate assumptions before building using the Lean Canvas

  11. 1

    Hey Rob, I have a free 1) Build your tech brand guide in 30 minutes. and 2) Build/write/outline your platform strategy from a design-systems perspective document. It's from how the world's best design firm that made Slack + Designers at Facebook/instagram think about launching new companies. Let me know if you want me to shoot it your way. In exchange, I'd appreciate a review!

  12. 1

    One great, simple framework is to work on something that solves your own problem and you would use the product yourself. Then you are the first customer and the expert on the problem at the same time ;)

    1. 1

      But be careful though. If you want to make any money, there has to be a group of people who are willing to use the product other than you :)

      1. 1

        Of course, but finding these people then means finding people like yourself. That is, people with the same interests or field of work, for whom you have solved a problem.

  13. 1

    I had a list of 100+ ideas for years that I kept in various places. It was a huge burden, prevented me to work on one, even in the first little struggle it made me jump to another.

    I went ahead over all and if I can't explain it with a short, catchy sentence, I crossed that over. It turned out I had no idea at all :)

    We are not on the same spot so it might not make sense since you are on your "next big side project." While I'm trying to do the opposite to experiment and improve my marketing. For the past 5 days, I had 3 awful ideas keeping my mind busy. It's even hard to choose in between three and this could be a sole reason to procrastinate.

    Today I've picked one, started a timer on twitter with a small goal of the initial commit and after 4 straight hours I have more insights about the idea, I knew what won't work, what to automate, what topics to cover. I have less predictions and it already helped me to avoid thinking about other ideas, so a better day than those 4 unproductive days.

    For a bigger project I'd build a sheet to valuate the market, entrance barrier, acquisition channels, required time and people to contact with. Whichever has more points would be my first in the line.

  14. 1

    I was there at a point and so I started a problem validation platform.

    A problem is quantifiable as people have it now, but a startup idea is something imaginary i.e. It becomes a startup idea only if the idea solves the problem and a startup can be built around it in the future. So it's easier to validate the problem, than a 'startup idea'.

    So nowadays I just try to solve the problems posted on my platform and if there's enough need gap I try to launch it professionally.

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