Interview with an Entrepreneur: Validating Your Idea
Hear from an entrepreneur in the field on how to validate your business.
Market validation is a common phrase in the startup community, but it remains a vague concept without specific questions to ask our markets. When a great market validation survey comes into our line of vision, it’s an opportunity to test our own strategies.
StartBlox user Sami Halabi recently sent his startup’s validation survey across our desks. This action was far more than a questionnaire - it was a strategic move to gain insights into his market and guide his product development. We took a moment to ask him about his company:
“My business partner, Fadi Abdelbaki, and I are creating a new travel application named Tourist to Native. T2N is the perfect platform for group travel, both for pre-planning at home and living it up while abroad! It offers a visually-forward, role-based, and gamified experience for groups of friends traveling to the world's hottest destinations. In terms of stage, we’re completing initial validation and we’ll soon be entering iteration.
“Right now we have several goals. In the short term, we’re working towards building a stellar, highly effective and product team. We’re also gathering and developing content in preparation for the app’s soft release. More strategically, we’re solidifying our monetization structure and research the best practices within the travel app industry. We really want to investigate similar concepts to our app.”
It’s no secret that Sami and Fadi sent their survey across our desk on purpose. As most entrepreneurs, the duo targeted their survey to our team after finding out a little about us. They knew that the StartBlox team has a passion for travel, and so we got to be survey guinea pigs in a way:
“Through this survey, we hoped to gain an understanding of the buyer personas within our target consumer base and a sensing of their behaviors and preferences when choosing to download or use an app. In this case, they also generated ideas and qualified which features or functionalities are important to future customers.”
There is a dichotomy in validation, between the validity of the problem the product or service seeks to solve and the validity of the market fit for the product or service. Sami’s survey echoed many of the most common (and most important) startup validation questions for each. Here's what they posed to their potential customers:
- What are their goals? What are their goals with regards to (industry, product, or topic)?
- How often do they engage with (industry, product, or topic)?
- How important is (industry, product, or topic) to your market?
- What frustrates them?
- What do they need?
- What are their current lifestyles?
- How much do they spend on (industry, product, or topic)?
- What services or products do they currently use daily within (industry, product, or topic)?
- What improvements would they want to see made on these products or services?
- What sources do they turn to for information on (industry, product, or topic)?
These questions are only the beginning of validating a business. Other validation techniques include competitor analysis, looking at past examples, creating a micro-product or micro-service, or getting your customers to buy in even before you build. Sami and Fadi will continue their validation process throughout their next stage of business:
“Further validation will be done with the release of an MVP (minimum viable product), presentation of that MVP to early adopters, and release of multiple iterations of the product to our early adopter pool. We will release different iterations to different groups because this will allow us to meticulously track changes in customer behavior and preferences against a control group.”
Starting a business can be daunting and risky. Validation is a prime tool to mitigate that risk and to drive your success long term, so make sure you do it right.
As a final treat, we asked Sami for his advice for fellow entrepreneurs, and we couldn’t have said it any better ourselves:
“When validating your idea, be thorough; consult with marketing, UI/UX, product development, and management leaders to identify your ideal target group, the best questions to include, the ideal profile of an early adopter, etc. Validation never stops. Keep validating with every new iteration or feature release; at the end of the day, it’s not what you like that matters, but rather what the customer likes. And there’s only one way to find that out: by asking!”