How to validate your project in a Startup Weekend?

During Saturday and part of Sunday the teams that participate in a Startup Weekend have to dedicate themselves to validate.

To validate is to corroborate that every statement that you make around your idea/project has a real basis.

This can be done in different ways, but the most important thing that teams have to keep in mind is validation is something they can’t escape from, at least if they want to have a good weekend learning.

In this post you will find:

  • What do you want to validate?
  • How to validate the hypotheses?
  • Let’s talk about surveys
  • How to present the results?

What do you want to validate?

When someone is in the middle of the mayhem of a Startup Weekend, knowing that you have to do everything in a few hours makes you enter “desperation mode” and every action is a constant running around in circles.

Therefore, it’s important to take it easy and go step by step. An excellent way to do this is using the famous canvas as a guide. There are several but the one I like the most and I think is the most in line with the dynamics of a Startup Weekend is the Startup Weekend Canvas.

In this post, Jozué Morales explains in detail what the canvas is and how you can use it (Spanish):

To validate it is important that you define:

  • the problem,
  • your user and
  • your solution

How to validate the hypotheses? 💸

I consulted Startup Weekend Latam organizers, facilitators, participants and mentors on how to validate problems and solutions.

Validate problem and solution separately

This is what most told me. Elkin added that problems tend to respond to systems with multiple actors, roles and variables, so if one is an expert in that system, one can validate problem and solution at the same time, otherwise it’s better to do it separately.

Validation ≠ surveys

In other words, there are different ways of validating hypotheses. Jozué recommends only doing surveys to know the user (needs and behaviors) to detect a serious or important problem to solve.

To validate a solution, sell

When we talk about the solution the best way to validate is to sell. For this you need to prototype (very fast).


Let’s talk about surveys 📋

Surveys overflow Startup Weekend, with all kinds of formats, questions and sizes. The most recommended thing to do is to go outside to validate face-to-face, but online surveys can also help if they are well elaborated.

The best known tools for doing this are: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Typeform and Poll Everywhere

The community of Startup Weekend Latam also answered me on this point, what can’t be missing in a validation survey:

  1. Ask about behaviors of the past and not of the future
  2. Don’t pitch the idea when you’re validating the problem
  3. Ask how the person currently solves the problem and how much they’re paying for that solution (competition)
  4. Ask direct questions, get straight to the point
  5. Elaborate questions with predetermined answers
  6. Capture User Data (Age Range, Gender, Country / State / City)
  7. See if the user finds the solution valuable

How to present the results?

“This is a pie chart describing my favorite bars. And this is a bar graph describing my favorite pies.” Marshall Ericksen

Here comes the fun part, how to present what was obtained in the surveys. The most common is simply to say the obvious: “25 people responded, and 25 people have this problem.”

But, remember that can only generate laughter or an “Oh, honey” by the jury. Show the most relevant of your results, for this you must ask good questions and a good analysis of the answers.

Your survey results do not represent the total of anything. I already had to see in final presentations that translated their results to the total of a population; “75% of people in Mexico City think this.”

The design also counts, uses tools like infogr.am, piktochart.com or Google Spreadsheet graphics to make your graphics more colorful. But be careful: do not overload graphics with your presentation!


The most important thing

You’ve heard it many times but whether or not you do online surveys keep leaving the building to validate. Look for real stories, not just assumptions or ideals. Get out of the f *** ing building!