Who wants it? And will they pay for it?
Engineers love solving problem — fixing things, building new things. But, unless you are doing this out of passion and, perhaps, for yourself, it is not the time or place to solve a problem that may not be a (big enough) problem at all (for others).
When I give talks to startups about market validation, I tell them a story about a builder who finds a broken bridge and fixes it. But in return, he gets no thanks, no rewards and no one uses that bridge.
He later realizes that: 1) there’s another bigger and better bridge on a parallel road, and 2) the road that the bridge connects on the other side, doesn’t really lead to anywhere, hence giving no reason for people to cross it.
The moral of the story, I say, is:
- You need to determine if the bridge needs fixing (does someone want what you are offering?)
- You need to determine if someone’s going to pay for the bridge to be fixed (will someone buy your product/service?)
These are the two simple principles of market validation.
Most techie founders (or for that matter just about most founders) see a problem and jump on to the task of solving it. The most common assumption is: If I want this, I’m sure others want this too!
Assumption is, indeed, the mother of f**k ups! And startup founders assume so much about their product and market needs causing them to F**K UP when it’s time to launch their product into the market.
Just like the builder in my story, they realize (after having spent weeks, months or even years in building/fixing) that no one wants it and/or no one is willing to pay for it.
If you have started developing something without validating, stop!
Stop any more production activities and take time to validate your market. You may have spent significant time building your product, but in the end, there’s no point of it all if it doesn’t sell. Don’t fall into the trap of sunk-cost fallacy and cut your losses before it’s too late.
If you are still thinking about starting something around your idea. You are in luck as there’s not much you have to lose before you go on an expedition validating your idea.
And remember these wise words!
Post-edit: I still haven’t written on how to validate your market, but here are some great articles and posts on doing so:
- Jim Semick’s Lean Market Validation (I like #9)
- Joey Barker’s Market Validation 101 Infographic (with a slightly different, but valid, take)
- Jon Lee’s Startup’s Roadmap to Validation Lesson 2.
As always, leave your comments, questions, feedback and even disagreements below. Cheers.