Early Market Validation
Updated: Apr 7
Validated Customer Insights is powerful leverage. Prove the problem is worth solving, and prove that you can access customers. The #1 value and "IP" you create as a scalable startup founder is insight into your customer and their problem. Be obsessed with the customer problem - work in rapid cycles to build on your knowledge of the problem.
Develop a clear vision for solving a specific problem for a particular customer segment.
Define the problem
Identify a high-value early adopter customer
Plan customer interviews
Ensuring that we address a genuine pain point for a well-defined target customer profile, and that our solution effectively resolves the problem, is crucial. This is important because the primary reason startups fail is that they create products with little customer interest. To mitigate this risk, we need to confirm that our startup hypotheses are based on a worthwhile problem. Validation comes from engaging with the right people - the best source being customers themselves. As a startup founder, your role is to enter a market and minimize startup risk.
Begin by describing the problem you believe you are solving, and identify the customers and users. Next, engage with these people to understand the problems they truly want you to solve. This is the first step in market research. If you're not prepared to speak with customers and users to learn about their concerns, you may not be ready for a startup.
Use a simple template to describe the problem you intend to solve. Consider the customer's perspective when encountering the problem and their attempts to solve it.
Template: [This person] faces [this problem] in this [situation], because [secondary problem factors].
Example: [People who want tattoos] [often get stuck and spend a lot of time] [when picking a design and placement of tattoo] [because there are so many options, and tattoo artists won’t make the decisions for them].
After crafting your problem statement using the template, create an interview script.
Hi, I’m X, I’m doing some research around topic. Can I have a few moments of your time?
Prepare interview questions.
Can you tell me about the last time you were [in this situation]?
What was the most difficult thing about [situation]?
Where did you go to [solve] [situation]?
Would you have paid to have [situation] resolved?
Conclude the interview.
Based on our conversation, it seems like x is really hard for you, but y is not. How accurate is that?
It appears that x is very important to you, while y is not. How accurate is that?
Is there anything else you think I should know about that I didn’t ask?
Do you know anyone else who might also have this problem that I could ask similar questions to? – small form of validation if they’re willing to give you referrals
Can I keep you in the loop on how the product develops?
Can I follow up with you if I have more questions?
Determine where to find customers and how many interviews to conduct. Practice the interview with a few acquaintances, then approach potential customers with your interview script. Listen attentively, as the customer's input is crucial. After the initial interviews, feel free to consult with the group for feedback.
Record the interviews or take notes immediately after each session.
Log the data collected from the interviews – this is your "startup gold." Continue conducting interviews until you reach your target number or feel you have enough data to analyze in the next session. If finding customers proves difficult, update your strategy. You can join one of our monthly virtual events to get help during this process this process if necessary.
After completing several interviews, proceed to analyze the responses.