Lean Market Validation: 5 Ways to Test Your Startup Idea

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What is market validation? Market validation is the process of determining whether your product is of interest to a given target market. Market validation involves a series of customer interviews with people in your target market, and in most cases, it happens you spend a significant amount of money on product development. Here are the steps we review in my course as we move from initial ideation to validation of the startup.

1. Write down your product concept

Who is your customer?

What problems are you solving?

How does your product solve those problems?

What are the key features of the product?

2. Gather data and decide

I use the 80% rule — get just enough (valid) information from customer interviews and other data sources and then decide – to move or kill the idea. Don’t overthink it. Lean into your intuition.

I will share how to use Linkedin, Google and Facebook to gather data for free to low costs in another post.

3. Find the truth by getting out to market

You will know after step #2 what you can take to market as your minimum impactful product (MIP) – time to invest time/money and get it into the market and seek the truth from customers.

(*NOTE, I am not talking about the (MVP) most viable product but a minimum impactful product. Very different approach)

4. Start with your network

If possible, start with your network. I recommend working with your network of friends, mentors, investors, and others to reach potential customers. There might be some bias there, but it is still easier and cheaper to get closer to the truth.

5. Ask, “Why?”

“Why?” is by far the most critical question you can ask. With it, you can get closer to the truth from customers. We use the ‘Five Whys’ exercise with all new founders. Unfortunately, this question isn’t used often enough — too many people ask a question and then take the answer at face value.

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