So you have a great initial idea for a business (of course it is). You are ready to start building your prototype and be on your way to a billion dollar company. You feel your idea is so good you don’t need to do any research - just go “build it and they will come.” While you might just have the next unicorn company, I’m a big believer in effective customer discovery. Before going deep into your customer discovery process, here are three quick things you can do, in less than a day, to help you gain more confidence in your idea.
From your computer, you can do some quick scans to see what is out there. First, start by Googling some keywords related to your idea. What competitors come up, what research/articles exist, what analyst coverage is there? From this you can get a quick sense of how established the idea and industry players are. From that competitive list, take a look at their website, messaging, white papers, etc. This is a great way to quickly learn some of the views on market problem, value proposition, ideal customer profile, etc. The goal is not to copy competitors, but rather leverage their experience to accelerate your market understanding. Pay particular attention to how you might be differentiated from what is out there. Lastly, you can often find some good articles that describe the latest industry trends and predictions.
Talking to Potential Customers/Industry Experts
Now armed with a little more knowledge on the space, think about who potential customers/industry experts might be. Reach out to several connections and remember The Mom Test. Your main goal is to understand how their current process works and existing pain points, much less at this point around any solution. Can you sense they are passionate about the severity of the problem? Are they already trying to solve it internally or though vendors? Or do they just passively nod their head and tell you it is an interesting idea (code for not a good one)?
Basic Scenario Modeling
When it comes to your target market, you can usually find some quick facts to help with a TAM analysis to vet how big/growing/changing the market could be. Once the market passes the “sniff test,” you can run some basic projections on volume, price, and cost to see what revenue and profit could look like. Don’t overcomplicate things or spend a lot of time at this stage. You are just trying to apply some quick math to make you feel comfortable the economics could work.
I often find that by spending just a few hours doing research on an idea, you can quickly disprove some less promising ideas and get excited about taking the next steps on more promising ideas. Remember, these are just three quick (and free) steps in a customer discovery process before you jump all in and start building your product!