I have an idea for a startup that I want to pursue. It's rooted in a problem I really want to solve, but I want to make sure before diving in, and devoting time to it, that it's viable.
The one and only thing you should do to validate your idea is...
Pre-sell the solution.
TAKE MONEY. Real actual money.
The only way to tell if something is viable is to take money from people who will buy it.
Don't be fooled by people who say you can't do this. Apple does this all the time. The people you are looking for are called "early adopters".
This is how I validated my business (www.referralriver.com)
I talked to my target market (people I thought I could help and who I also thought could buy or actually had money to buy). At the end of the conversation I asked if they would pre-purchase the solution before it was made.
Many didn't but some did. After I had enough people that purchased I could determine that yes this is a valid idea and worth pursuing.
My general rule: Pre-sell to at least 10 people. If your solution/service/ or product has a lifetime value (LTV) of less than $1,000 then you need more than 10 pre-sales to validate. I happen to be in software so that's a subscription model so for that industry any solution that costs less than $50 per month per user is very difficult to build and be successful at, so a minimum of 10 pre-sales of at least $50 per month per user would validate an idea for me.
Before finding this one I went through maybe 10 other ideas and decided not to pursue them (mostly because no one would pay for the solution before it was built!)
Don't ask "hey would this be useful?" or "would you pay for this if it existed?"
Ask for the sale now.
If people don't pre-purchase this "idea"...then it's crap. Sorry, but guess what?! That's great news. You get to move on instead of wasting your time, money, and resources building something that no one will buy.
If you want to know more, or if you find this useful, book a time with me. Happy to help.
Please upvote this answer if you found it useful.
The most sure fire way of vetting an idea like this is to talk to the folks you imagine using this product or service.
For example, if your service helps widget buyers find and purchase the finest widgets of the world; strike up a conversation with those buyers and talk to them about the struggles and frustration they have with buying widgets.
Then introduce your idea, "Would [my service] help you find better widgets? What would make you say, "WOW! This is what I need.""
Good luck! I'm happy to help you further with this process. I'm working with a number of entrepreneurs right now who are in various stages of vetting their own ideas for services.
You're smart to want to research the idea first. Start by validating that the problem is actually a problem people want to solve. Like Shaun said that takes getting out and talking to people. I'd recommend not asking "would my idea make your life easier?" People are overly nice and they love to say "Yes, of course." Also, try strangers over friends for the same reason. My most recent startup came from standing in a grocery store aisle and talking to random people about the choices they were making and why.
If you validate a problem, then you move on to brainstorming the possible solutions - very important to ignore solutions until you know the problem. Don't try to find a problem for the solution you have in mind.
Once you have the problem and the solution, then you can develop a quick MVP and see if it gets traction/buyers.
If you can hit all those steps, you might have something worth pursuing. The process takes a month or two, but that's a lot better way to start than building something and trying to force it on people. I've tried that - didn't work.
Feel free to reach out with any questions. Good luck!
You need feedback from the people you think would be interested in it. To get that you have several options:
1) Ask friends/family in your theorized target persona if they'd be interested.
2) Post on online communities asking the same thing (e.g. appropriate sub-Reddits).
3) Go in person to the workplaces of your target persona. Bring donuts, or coffee or something around lunchtime, introduce yourself and ask nicely and casually if you could ask them some questions (i.e. if they would be interested in xyz, why/why not, any suggestions, etc.)
4) Make a quick 'landing page' on Weebly or Squarespace, and then do cheap advertising on Google, Facebook, etc. to draw people to it. Make sure you set up analytics first (e.g. Google Analytics)
5) Be creative and think of some other way
If you'd like more specific advice tailored to your actual idea I'd be happy to help out,
Some great tips already listed here. I'll add one additional tip that cuts through everything that is simply sell your product. If you can't sell it to at least one business (if a B2B) or to 10 consumers (if a B2C) then you won't be able to sell it to thousands. I'm in the business of helping validate ideas and selling is the best measure. Best of luck and if I can be of help, please connect via my site http://TryHypothesis.com
This is a common question that I've seen and answered before. You are not alone!
A simple way to validate any startup idea is to put together a landing page and drive some traffic to it. Unbounce is a great tool for building landing pages.
Spend a few hundred dollars on Google Adwords to drive relevant traffic to your page to see if you can generate leads for your service. When you generate some leads, get on the phone with them and pitch your business. If they are interested, you can let them know you will be launching soon and you will notify them. If they aren't interested, it will help indicate if your idea is something that people want.
For a few hundred bucks, and using a simple landing page, you can generate sufficient data to help you understand if you are heading in the right direction.
Another tool I like to use is Survata. With just $100 you can get 100 objective survey responses from your target audience.
I also wrote a blog post about how to validate your idea. You can check it out here:
The strength of any Idea can be determined in five stages
If it is algorithm related then the idea is to speak to the subject matter expert
If it is in common sense of trying to understand the market proposition then you need to speak to persons like me
If the idea is related to finding the clients in the niche area of expertise then you need to work on your own with industrial contacts
If the idea is to negotiate a sales pitch then you need to contact a scheduler who can afford services to you
The main determination of the team to build worst Idea can also become a super flourishing disruptive start-up venture.
If you want to talk to me further please contact me through clarity.fm
I recently went through a Start Up Weekend event as well as a Venture School program through the University of Iowa. The entire course was on doing exactly what you are asking. They teach the lean start-up and business canvas model of proving a business idea.
The core strategy with proving your business has potential is customer discovery - determining a hypothesis and testing it through interviews (customer discovery). You'll do these interviews with several different hypotheses, concerning every aspect of your business idea - the problem, the potential solution, who are the possible consumers, what will they pay (if they will pay), distribution models, sales tactics, etc. I've provided a few links that present the theory behind the business canvas. It provides a means to be agile in your business development, helping you identify when to pivot or change up your idea to best fit the market needs.
Good luck! Happy to chat further if you have questions about this concept or how to use it.