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How to Validate Your Startup

Shawn Parrotte March 23, 2017

Validating your startup before introducing it to the market it is essential if you want to see it grow and thrive. Without putting your product through thorough validation, you could end up spending significant amounts of money and using up countless resources, all for zero return. However, there are some measures that you can take to ensure your startup will be a success. Here are the key steps that will help you do just that:

Understand Your Target Market

Clearly defining your target market is one of the most vital steps in validating any startup. After all, for a concept to be successful, you must understand the needs of the consumer and whether or not the service will be in demand. To assess a market, create customer profiles of those that the product will reach and learn about their habits as they relate to what you offer.

For instance, if your startup is developing a service that is meant to expedite online financial transactions, then you will need to focus on targeting individuals who are apt to use online banking, rather than customers who are reluctant to embrace this kind of technology.

Analyze Your Competition

Separating your startup from the rest of the pack is how you create a successful company. Prior to inception, analyze who else is active in your space to know what they bring to the table. This will also help you to understand any gaps in the market that you may be able to capitalize on.

Learning who your competition is will go a long way to show any differences in what you’re up to and if your startup idea really is distinct. Plus, having an in-depth knowledge of the market can help you highlight or amplify what makes you truly unique.

Survey Your Audience

Conduct interviews and implement consumer surveys. These are powerful tools that can prove the viability of your startup. There are several different methods to bring your idea to your audience without actually building it first including face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, and online surveys.

If you’re bold, you may want to consider offering a limited presale of the product, to give indications for how well a full-scale product launch may be received. While it’s every founder’s hope that the product will be successful, it’s better to encounter obstacles during the trial phase, when adjustments can be made, rather than after it’s hit the market.

Generate Buzz

Getting your brand in the front of the public eye many months before launch can be crucial in the marketing of your product. It’s the dream of every startup to have a growing “buzz” surrounding their product, as this usually leads to a significant jump in sales on its initial release. In the technology-driven world of today, there’s an array of ways to generate buzz, such as through the use of social media platforms and microsites.

Keep in mind that it is not necessary to have a pre-existing product to create a social media presence for it. Consider offering promotions for the product or freebies to entice users to stay in tune with the progression of the startup. Furthermore, there are many free tools available online which can help facilitate contact with potential customers.

Build a Minimal Viable Product

If you’re looking to validate your product, but you’re not ready to commit to a final thing, building a minimal viable product (MVP) may be an option worth considering. Essentially, an MVP is a simplified version of a product with a limited feature set. It maintains enough functionality to give users something to look forward to and gives you some data to test your assumptions with how people will use it.

In the end, an MVP could save you a countless number of hours and resources for your business if the concept fails to make an impact in the early stages of development. And similarly, if your MVP is met with enthusiasm, then you will definitely feel more confident moving ahead in production.

Launch and Iterate

Once the concept of the startup has come full circle and the product is completed, it will be time for launch. However, launching a project does not mean simply putting the product out there and expecting that it is as good as it can be. In fact, a launch gives startups an opportunity to evaluate customer concerns after they’ve thoroughly used the product.

This is where the iteration phase begins. Google has a mantra based around the idea of “launch and iterate”, in which they release products full well knowing they contain bugs, just so that they can use the customer’s feedback to determine the most appropriate changes. If you are a startup, don’t be afraid to admit that there may be flaws that are unaccounted for, or even left so on purpose, so long as you plan to implement an iteration phase after release.

In Conclusion

For startups, validation can play a vital role in the successful launch of a product. Failure to implement the correct validation steps could cause a product to be released into a market where there is no demand, which could have dire consequences. Prior to developing a product, make sure you are targeting the right market and meeting the needs of consumers. Spend time analyzing the competition that the startup will face, to see if there is room in the market for your offering.

In addition, take steps to generate a marketing buzz around the product prior to launch, through the use of social media and free online promotional tools. Consider giving away freebies or preselling a certain number of items to pique interest levels in the community.

Furthermore, be aware that no product is perfect, and thus, there will always be obstacles to overcome even after the product has hit the market. Instead of seeing this as a failure in planning or design, take it as an opportunity to make improvements based on real user feedback. If you’re launching a startup, use these steps and you will be well on your way to becoming a successful company.

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