Hi All, I usually come up with (commercial) ideas when I think why don't we do it this way instead of the other way. Or usually I club/fuse traditional businesses with modern tech and think if it can be this way it would be easier. I, at times come up with ideas that are unique and also I find similar options already developed as well. Kindly help me out in understanding, if I am coming up with an executable idea how (or) where to check if my startup plan is actually feasible and it has legs. I usually move around with a close group of friends but when I present these ideas to them some say that it is wonderful and some of them say it might cost you much so better don't do it and it will not survive. I want some professional advice/guidance. Is there anyone who listens to all this and authentically gives out suggestion with supporting docs/research or do I have to stick on to my friends & family?
Prabhunath, you just reminded me of this article - check it out:
The problem with friends/family is, as genuine as they may try to be, they'll inevitably be over enthusiastic or over cautious, to protect you.
What I did was create a Facebook fan page for my app and then place cheap Facebook ads. The kind of ads that I would likely place as if my idea was already live, without giving away too much secret sauce.
The beauty of this is not only do you get real world, unbiased feedback for very little out of pocket (<$25), you also learn exactly who your target market is quickly, using Facebook's analytics. And as a bonus, you've collected likes of early adopters on your fan page to use as beta testers once you have something for them to test.
You can do the same thing linking them to a landing page and collecting emails, as well.
Unless your family or friends are in the market you want to sell to, then you are not getting useful feedback. http://tryhypothesis.com might be able to help you validate your idea(s).
Basic rule of thumb is usually take the anticipated revenue and cut it in half. Double your estimated costs and ask, "do you still have a good business?" If yes, then you are likely to proceed.
Nothing better than building a straw-man (even in Power Point) and going out to talk with prospective customers. As the Japanese taught me years ago, "go and see" and "as 'why' five-times!"
Dont put too much faith on your friends.
These are the questions that you should ask when you conduct a market search for your idea:
* What problem or pain does your product or service will solve?
* How big is the market?
* Who will buy or use your product or service? and Why?
* Who is your competitors?
* How much I should charge?
You can use in-person surveys, web or social surveys, focus group, or person-to-person interviews methods to conduct your market research.
This not uncommon among entrepreneurs. All of us have tons of ideas. The trick is to pick the ones that you can execute and here are two filters you can use:
1. Can you implement a prototype yourself?
In order to validate the idea you will need to show it to your potential customer. How will you do that? Can you do it yourself? Can you afford to build it?
2. Does it provide enough value?
This is usually answered with a prototype, but not always. With some ideas, you can just ask your customer if they would pay for it, or maybe build something simple yourself (like an excel spreadsheet, etc).
If you can confirm that people are willing to pay for your solution, then it's a good idea. Otherwise, it's not.
Mix & Go - Helping early-stage startups bring new products to market
That's how entrepreneurs function. We come up with ideas all the time and that's a good thing because that's how you build a successful product. You come up with ideas and you test them, as many as you can, as fast as you can, until you find one that sticks.
The hard part is finding which idea is the solution to a painful problem, a solution that people would happily pay you to solve.
So the way to find the one idea that people would pay you for is to try all of them, either by talking to your customers or building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that you can show (and get payed for).
If you're interested in learning more about MVPs, I've got a free 7 day course and an article on the subject. Check them out.
The only good way to test (aka validate) an idea for a product/service is to get someone to pay for this product/service (not necessarily with money - users can "pay" with their time, attention, engagement, personal information, etc.)
Don't ask your friends whether it's a good idea or not - they can't possibly know that in advance, nobody can, no expert in the world will be more reliable than a coin toss on this matter. Besides, the execution of an idea matters MUCH more than the idea itself.
Instead of asking, just make a simplest possible prototype, or even a mockup or a presentation that visualizes the end product, and ask your friends to use it or to help you find someone who will.
There's really no substitute for this.
See if there is an I-Corps program in your area. This is like a customer discovery bootcamp from NSF and will let you know if you have an idea that will sell. There are usually other resources available through this program as well. Also, see if there is a SBDC in your area. This program is part of SBA and they have consultants who can help you through early stage startups. Check for local entrepreneurial community events at your local co-working spaces, like 1 Million Cups, etc.
This is a pretty common challenge. There are a lot of good suggestions in the replies here. I have a couple more for you that, hopefully, will add value.
First, the success of a new project is ENTIRELY dependent of whether the end product or service sells. Even if you are doing a non-profit, you still have to sell your product or idea to donors, investors, volunteers, etc.
In the commercial space, Angel and VC investors have a really a good sense for what sells and, more importantly, WHEN. That's where they start evaluating your idea, and that where you should too.
So... First decide what it is that you'll be selling. This part is usually easy for idea people. The you have to decide if your idea is a product/service or a feature. This is really important. If your idea is a feature to an existing product, then chances are you'll have a hard time creating a successful enterprise since, once your prove the market, the established vendor will simply copy it. And you're done!
Next, you need to decide if your idea has Technology Risk, or Marketing Risk. If your answer is that there is NO Risk, then you have not considered all the issues! So keep thinking!
Technical Risk (one that I personally prefer) is a situation where you are inventing a new technology, a new algorithm, a new product that's not on the market. Tech Risk means you need upfront money for R&D. The benefit is that once you solve the tough problem, it can be protected by keeping a secret, or patenting it, etc.
If your idea falls in this category, then you should talk to a few VCs, Angels, Entrepreneurs, etc. Most experienced ones can quickly, though with varying degrees of accuracy, assess WHEN a market might materialize for your idea and how much money you need to develop it. So the answer to the WHEN question is before you have anything really working.
Marketing Risk (one that I personally avoid when I can) is a situation where your idea can easily be copied and what determines success is the amount of money spent on marketing, advertising, and sales. This is not to say all ideas in this category should be avoided. It is only to point out that the answer to WHEN question is after you have developed the idea - at least to an MVP level.
Now to the question you asked about figuring out the viability of the idea... Friends usually don't make good sounding boards because they will mostly react to you - some will be super enthusiastic to encourage you, and some will be super negative to protect you. That's not good research!
I would suggest you start with Googling various keywords that might represent your idea. You'll surely find some thread to pull on. Once you have the general market segment, then there are plenty of free online resources to help you assess potential market size, etc. Just put the phrase "Market Research" in front of any keyword you are search for.
Hope this helped some!
Best of luck...