Minimum Viable Product · Inspiration

- Idea to startup methodologies

Olaide Olambiwonnu MBA Candidate at MIT Sloan School of Management

December 19th, 2012


I\'m a fledgling/aspiring entrepreneur trying to decide whether or not an
idea/problem is worth pursuing.

As there are many experienced entrepreneurs in the group, I\'m interested in
obtaining some information as to how you went about vetting your ideas.

In particular, I\'d like to know some of the things i can do early on in
this process. That way, I don\'t waste time and valuable resources if it
isn\'t worth pursuing.

I\'m familiar with the lean startup methodology but would also like to know
if there are any other methods out there as well.

Also, please let me know if this is not the right platform for this


Craig Green

December 19th, 2012

THere\'s Lean Start-up Machine, based on Eric Reis\' The Lean Startup.


On Dec 19, 2012, at 10:33 AM, brian piercy wrote:

Tony Rajakumar Founder/CEO at SnugBoo

December 19th, 2012

Laide - it depends on whether it is enterprise or consumer.

If it\'s enterprise, the easiest way is to find potential targets for the product and ask a couple of them. This has worked pretty well for me in the past. I found some conferences that discussed topics similar to the problem I was solving and then trolled them for interested people. I approached them for advice rather than selling the product as that way people are less wary.

If it\'s consumer, then there\'s no easy way other than build out a simple prototype and throw it there a la lean. You can ask people but sometimes people need to see it before they get it. And it can be confusing because some things that end up being very successful are derided at launch - remember the iPad launch?

I personally view the market as a giant computer that sorts the virtuous from the also-ran - but it\'s a fickle capricious sorter without an evident rationale. There is no way other than to try.


On Dec 19, 2012, at 1:08 AM, Olaide Olambiwonnu <> wrote:

Tony Clemendor Founder/CEO - GiftWow, Growth & Operations Guy, Startup Advisor

December 19th, 2012


There is a list of things you can/should do to vet the idea. But the first
thing you should do is talk to potential customers. Have you clearly
identified the type of person that would pay for your product/service? If
so, you need to start finding and talking to those people soon, without an
ego. See if you get them excited when you describe your vision, or if
their eyelids start to droop. Many of us think we\'ve got the greatest idea
until we start talking to potential customers. If one person doesn\'t like
the idea, they are possibly an idiot who does not understand our
brilliance. If 5 or 6 don\'t like the idea, then either we are horrible at
describing it, or the idea needs to change.

If you are getting good vibes from the discussions, find out if they think
your product is a "nice to have" or a "must have". If the idea doesn\'t
make it past this stage, you\'ve saved your self a lot of time and energy.


On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 1:08 AM, Olaide Olambiwonnu

Clynton Caines SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies

December 19th, 2012


I agree with Eric. The question comes up a lot and Quora/etc have good

Here\'s my take... Try to find the area(s) where you excel (or have a
natural edge) - and in that space, try to find a problem that lots of
people have. Don\'t think they have it - or hear them whine about it -
watch them wince from the pain. Then ask (yourself? or them!) if they\'ll
buy/use the fix you envision. Here\'s an example:

A kid spends weekends helping dad in a repair shop and people keep
dropping off busted lawn mowers for the same reason. Since he\'s already
there, can he build a quick, sure-fire fix that customers can install
themselves? Would it cost less than the repair shop\'s bill? If so,
that\'s got million dollar potential - and is more attainable than if he
hates using Google, but doesn\'t know how to code and has an old Pentium
PC :) at home.

On the flip side, maybe this kid mows a ton of lawns every weekend and
has to keep taking mowers to the shop for the same reason. If the repair
shop charges too much, it\'s doubtful they\'d let him just hang out and
build a fix. However, he might be a wiz web developer after school and
sees a need for a better Google... Pentium or no Pentium, that (might
be) a better choice...

Sorry - maybe I should answer you specifically... I once built a
hardware product that required too much time (and money) in a
prototyping shop and on patent attorneys. Never again! On the other
hand, software is like putty in my hands and I have a high power dev
box. So, my new focus is much more natural.

Good luck

Eric Rogness Technical Product Manager

December 19th, 2012

If you\'re beginning with a technical idea, you should certainly flip the coin and determine whether it addresses a market need, either by individual consumers or by an enterprise. Because of the friction of changing behavior, we should define \'need\' as more than just a passing fancy. For consumers, people probably aren\'t waking up in the morning, wishing they had a better search engine. However, there are probably many that wake up wishing that they could buy panyhose that didn\'t get runs in it. For enterprise, your idea should have the potential to either save or gain them a significant amount of money.
If it passes that test, as best you can, try to identify who those interested parties would be; describe them a bit. And then, of those, who are the low hanging fruit -- who will be the easiest converts. How big is that market? And then get creative as to how you might reach that market. What is the cost off acquiring a customer? How does that compare to the market opportunity. Whether there are millions who would spend very little, or a handful that would spend a lot, doesn\'t really matter.
Essentially, your product should (1) address a real need in the market; and (2) appeal to a large market whom you can reach economically.
That is an attempt to boil a lot of information down to a bite size consumable, but if you would like to learn more, there are some good resources listed on this Quora post:
Eric 297-7126

Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 01:08:17 -0800
Subject: [FD Members] - Idea to startup methodologies
From: oolambiwo

Alexander Ross Head of Business Development at Verifide

December 20th, 2012

My 2 cents:

- I like Tony R\'s summary of consumer vs enterprise.

- \'Lean\' is good but, personally, I see too many people worrying about the methodology, neat looking diagrams, and trying to make a startup seem like a scientific process. It ain\'t. Not to start a flame war, but I personally feel that \'lean\' is starting to get bogged down by the conceptual bloat and book selling instant experts that have sometimes tangled up software development and business management in the past.

I\'d recommend keeping Steve Blank\'s quote in mind \'There are no facts inside the building so get the heck outside\'. Go out and learn in whatever way makes sense. \'Design Thinking\' has some good stuff about how to do that.

- When you\'re out talking to people, it\'s fine if most people don\'t agree with your problem and/or solution *if* there\'s a clear subset of those who do. For example, let\'s say 80% seem to not have the \'to do list\' problem you\'re trying to solve, but the 20% who do are all moms. Go back and see if moms, or a subset of them, have this problem broadly. This gets tricky because the target niches aren\'t always evident. But welcome to the messy world of startups...



On Dec 19, 2012, at 7:05 AM, Tony Rajakumar <> wrote:

Sam Feller Mechanical Engineer at Foliage

December 19th, 2012

Do a little market research! It doesn\'t have to be very formal. Ask 10
friends / 10 prospective customers if they would buy/use/pay for your
product or service. Now, you don\'t (and shouldn\'t) have to listen to
everything they say, but you should get a good gut feel for what you\'re on


On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:36 AM, Eric Rogness <>wrote:

David Hauser Young Entrepreneur, Speaker, Founder of Grasshopper and Angel Investor.

December 19th, 2012

Read this book, great description of possible markets and who wins


December 19th, 2012

I haven\'t personally used one - but you might want to consider a
crowdsourced vetting platform. comes to mind; I also have seen a
press release about Wal-Mart\'s labs using a similar approach. (

Go knock one out of the park.

Kate Hiscox

June 5th, 2014

To add to that, your canvas might change based on feedback and that is great - you're going through customer validation but you need to communicate something to begin and this will help get that process started and give you confidence.