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“One of the biggest risks of building a product is to build the wrong thing. You’ll pour months (even years) into building it, only to realize that you just can’t make it a success.” Jon Lay and Zsolt Kocsmarszky have seen this happen multiple times, so they put together a Lean Validation Playbook. “The goal throughout the process of lean validation is to delay the expensive and time-consuming work of coding as late as possible in the process. It’s the best way to keep yourself focused, to minimize costs and to maximize your chance of a successful launch.” (via @wearehanno)
“If your startup failed, it’s because it didn’t solve a tier 1 problem for a large enough audience — here’s how to never make that mistake again.” Mitchell Harper shares the framework he’s used multiple times to validate product ideas. He’s sharing this framework in the hopes that you can learn from him how to validate your idea “before you launch, before you invest or raise your very first $1, and definitely before you hire anyone.” (via @mitchellharper)
“You don’t want to dump your energy and resources into a product that no one needs or is just nice to have. That’s why it’s necessary to validate your product idea before starting to write a line of code.” Even though you should validate your idea early on, Mór Mester points out that it’s easy to look past validation. You may get “so excited about launching your product that even if you think about validation, you rush through it” You may have no idea how to validate in the first place. Either way, if you want to avoid being like the 9 out of 10 startups that fail, read Mór’s explanation of a possible way to validate your product idea that doesn’t require a lot of resources. (via @mormester)
“As product managers and entrepreneurs, we know the importance of validating an idea before committing to getting it built. However, validation is easier said than done. In fact, it’s possibly one of the hardest things you will ever do in your product life cycle, otherwise, products and startups wouldn’t have the abysmal 90%+ failure rate they’ve become famous for.” Kunal Punjabi uses his first-hand experience to provide you a usable validation framework based on lean startup. (via @connecteev)
When you develop a product you may find yourself using the terms verification and validation together, however, they are different concepts. When you perform product verification, you’re answering the question “are we building the product right?” When you perform product validation, you’re answering the question “are we building the right product?” Carlos Yllobre wrote this post, based on his experience and looking at other resources, to shed some light on the ideas of verification and validation help you understand what they are and how important they are for a product. (via @charlieyllobre)
It’s encouraging and inspiring to hear about the genesis of products that we all use today. Ameet Ranadive quotes Linkedin’s Reid Hoffman, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit and others who made sure there was a market to serve and a real problem to solve before building there’s.
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.
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.
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.
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.