The Vita Student Start-up Blog: Validation
The Vita Startup Blog Series is brought to you by Vita Student entrepreneurs Tom Phipps & Max Beech, the co-founders of Intro – a mobile app designed to completely change the way contact details are exchanged. Exchanging your number and socials has never been easier with Intro’s all-in-one solution. Download here: https://getintro.app/download
Max and Tom co-founded Intro in 2017 whilst still studying at the University of Southampton and living in Vita Student Portswood, taking it from an idea on paper, to an app which is now used all over the world with it gaining new users every single day. At it’s heart, it is an app made by students, for students. It’s for this reason that they’ll be providing a crash course in how to start your own business from scratch…
In the last two blogs we’ve looked at the fundamentals of coming up with an idea and ensuring that it is viable as a business model. A key feature which was mentioned in the last blog was the validation process; whilst the general structure for approaching this was outlined, we thought it would be useful to suggest a few different practical ways you can go about validating your business!
The most important thing to remember is that validation is not just a one-off process. You need to validate early and often, as this is to ensure that what is being worked on still meets the needs of your customers – this can minimise chances of failure or at least give you the time to pivot sooner.
For Intro, we have used a number of different methods to validate our business to date, many of which could be applied to whatever startup idea you are working on. For this blog we’ll highlight a few of the techniques which we have used on our startup journey so far.
- Get out there and talk to people!
When we very first started working on the idea for Intro – the very day the idea was conceived – we spent an afternoon walking around the town centre talking to people and getting initial feedback. One of the most important things you can do is talking face-to-face with people as its one of the quickest and easiest ways to get feedback. We didn’t even have a product when we first did this and just used sketches to help convey what we wanted to create and asked a series of questions.
It surprising how willing people are to help if you say that you’re starting up your own business! One thing which we did learn from this is that playing the “student card” makes a massive difference. When approaching people, start by saying that you are a student – even if you’re not (just graduated etc) – before asking them to help and this will make a huge difference in the number of people who help!
This is useful in the very early stages, when you do not have a product as people are more willing to be honest about an idea. If it is used at a later stage and they see you have already made a product, they may be reluctant to express any negative views (such feedback is important though!)
- MVP testing
Whilst you will want to be conducting multiple focus groups as the business develops, to get regular validation and use the feedback to avoid any potential pitfalls, it is important to get your customers or users to actually engage with your product or service as soon as possible. Whilst entrepreneurs are often scared about letting consumers see an incomplete product, it allows for consumers to better understand what is being offered and therefore be able to provide more useful feedback, allowing for an agile process to take place where improvements can constantly be made.
- People pay to use your product
The best bit of validation you can get is people being prepared to pay for your product or services. Talking to potential customers can not only lead to them giving you reasons why they wouldn’t pay for it – again, valuable feedback which you can learn from – but it can even lead to sales, so always be closing!!
Here’s a great video on this:
Hopefully this gives you a quick overview and some ideas on how to get started with the validation process. Whilst you may get negative feedback along the way, remember that it is an ongoing process! All feedback is good as it is information which you can act on and utilise to make your business better than it was before!
Here are some other great links on the validation process:
- Lean Startup Machine, Validation Board
- Lean Startup Machine, Validation Board – Explanation Video
- 29 tools to help with Validation
As always for more information for Intro or any questions, feel free to visit https://getintro.app or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Founder of Intro