Initial Validation

  • By John Laughlin
  • 03.10.2021
  • Business

What are some ways to gain initial validation prior to building a minimum viable product (MVP)?

We have frequent conversations with non-technical founders who possess the following:

  • Domain/subject matter expertise
  • Customer problem or needed benefit and potential solution
  • Clear strategic vision for their business

Their next thought? “I’m ready to find a CTO or developer to dive into building a first version of my platform or app.” They are probably unaware that they’re likely missing a key, foundational piece—they haven’t explored how they can validate their value proposition.

What do I mean by validating your proposition?

This means that you have proved the problem that is solved or the benefit gained by using your product or service is significant enough to prompt the customer to spend their hard-earned money. When the idea is originally conceived, the founder assumes that their solution is worth paying a reasonable price...but there’s the obvious double trap of confirmation and overconfidence bias. Founders tend to look at information and sources from the lens of supporting their thesis instead of seeking out opposing, contrary views. That's confirmation bias. With overconfidence bias, the founder’s subjective confidence in his or her judgments is greater than the objective accuracy of those judgments, especially when confidence is relatively high. Wherever possible, it’s far better to prove the value proposition early by experimenting and testing before embarking on the full MVP build-out journey.

This shows potential partners and investors two important things.

A) You’re prudent with capital and not basing your decision to spend $40K-$80K for a full MVP on conjecture.

B) You’re open to really leaning in and maybe getting out of your comfort zone with new skills/tools.Experimentation and validation take time, effort, and energy.

With that said, what can early validation look like to a technical partner or investor?

Some examples we’re familiar with

  • Building a landing page inviting potential customers to try to get news updates, be involved in prototyping/testing, or preordering the MVP (think Instapage)
  • Creating a market survey (think Typeform or UserTesting)
  • Executing the idea without the platform or concierge MVP (think Airbnb creating a simple ad on a website for an apartment listing with a huge conference in town and hotels everywhere sold out)
  • Creating a no-code/low-code product version that gains paying customers (think Adalo for native apps, for web apps, or WordPress for a basic site with plug-ins)

It’s worth mentioning that proving initial validation does not need to be scalable. You need to demonstrate your ability to attract paying customers before you really invest time, energy, and money into building a scalable solution. Even if you are doing things by hand or becoming a low-code expert, it's all part of the process of proving out your idea. You’re getting qualitative feedback from potential customers while honing in on the core features of the MVP you will ultimately build and take to market.

Having some form of initial validation is a requirement for a Near The Box technical partnership with founders. Ultimately, it solidifies our investment of time and energy building out a data-driven, scalable MVP to take to market. Feel free to reach out if you have questions on determining the highest impact path of initial validation for your start-up.