Iterating on an MVP is not without its critics. Tomer Sharon reminds us that being hung up on a cycle of validating product ideas will distract you from understanding the fundamental problem that you are trying to solve. A great question to continually ask yourself is, “how do people currently solve the problem”. Then you can use several observational techniques to find the answers, such as field observations, shadowing, and contextual inquiry.
Validating product ideas through lean user research
Lean, iterative Product Validation usually involves using Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). Being a relatively new concept, there are several definitions for an MVP, such as the one Tomer Sharon quotes; it is the process of creating “a version of a new product that allows the team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.” He goes on to give two examples, 1) the Concierge MVP where the company manually executes the core service before automating it, and 2) the Fake Doors MVP where marketing materials are used to sell the product before it’s even built.
5 steps to validate your product idea without a product
Fans of Customer Development will be familiar with these two key steps to building a product that people want; validating a customer/problem hypothesis and then validating a problem/solution hypothesis. Shardul Mehta underlines how important it is to first test to see if there is a significant customer segment experiencing a specific problem. Only then should you explore solutions that might solve it.
95 ways to find your first customers for customer development or your first sale
Steve Blank once said: “no plan survives first contact with customers.” You have already committed to getting out of the building, but where do you go exactly to find potential customers? Jason Evanish lists many online as well as literal ‘out of the building’ sources.
Develop your value proposition and business model using Customer Validation
Expanding on the Validation process mentioned above, MaRS explains that at this point you must question whether you have sold enough product and have identified a sustainable business model. The answers to these questions will govern where you go next — scaling your business, doing another round of Validation or jumping back to Discovery to refine something there.
Anastasia eloquently sums up the main benefit of Customer Validation as helping you “avoid building a product that no one wants.” This stage is about building and refining a business model and validating assumptions about your customers before too much money is spent. These include assumptions about the market, the existence and weight of the problem and how impactful your product is/will be. The process for Validation includes defining your hypotheses and testing them in various channels. Perhaps even more importantly it includes generating real monetary transactions, i.e., selling your product.