Written by Iryna Prysyazhnuk
Do you have a startup idea?
Before launching any kind of startup you probably will do a lot of research. Actually, you should do it!
Different founders and mentors would advise on taking different approaches to find co-founders, teammates, and approaching investors, but there’s one thing they all agree on.
Before starting to put your time and money into anything, validate your idea!
If you have a great personal network in a startup community, probably you’re able to validate your idea just by asking a couple of questions on your LinkedIn or Twitter. You will get some answers and possibly can follow up, and get some sort of feedback.
If you’ve been working with startups for years, you probably have a good personal network to interview your potential target audience even by phone or Zoom.
But what if you’re the first-time founder and not well immersed in a startup community yet?
Here are some ways you get feedback on your ideas:
Join startup and entrepreneurship groups either in a global community or specific for your county. After you get approved by the admin, you have an opportunity to create a post. Share your idea and validate it through comments and engage in discussions.
- easy to post and doesn’t require extra registration (who doesn’t have a Facebook profile!)
- you can post the same question in different groups and gather over 100 comments of feedback in a short period of time
- you can connect with users who left comments and ask them for an interview or personal feedback
- once posted, your post stays on top only for a short period of time
- groups have lots of spam
- you can’t filter the relevant audience if your idea targets a specific niche/market
- groups are not always easy to find
Discord traditionally has been a community for gamers, so if your product or service targets this audience- it’s your choice #1! However, even if your idea is not around gaming, you can find the communities of web developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and marketers who would be able to provide feedback. Join servers that such as Unscripted Startups, Projectium.Network and Startups & Entrepreneurship.
- you can easily find a niche community to pitch your idea to
- users are responsive and helpful
- users often don’t use real names, so it’s hard to understand who they are and what is their expertise
- Discord highly discourages links to other websites and platforms, if you want to test MVP
- Discord doesn’t support threads, so comments for your idea would be scattered and might not be seen by a lot of people
- Groups for startups are relatively small in size (less than 2k)
Reddit is known for everything but idea validation, but some entrepreneurs do post their business questions in relevant subreddits. If you’re willing to give it a try, Reddit threads such as r/startups, r/startup and r/Startup_Ideas and r/EntrepreneurRideAlong can be helpful.
- very large and active community
- people can upvote for your discussions and you’ll get over 100 comments with feedback
- some founder report Reddit as a good source for getting feedback fast
- anonymity means you don’t know anything about the users giving you feedback – are they even your target audience?
- comments are not always relevant, people would promote their services in popular posts
- if your idea doesn’t get upvoted, you will have just a few comments
4. Specialized platforms – IndieHackers & Projectium
If you familiarizing yourself with a startup world, you have probably heard of those two platforms. The biggest difference between those platforms – is that they’re not a one-time deal. You’re able to create your project and build a community around it. You’re able to ask for feedback for your idea and it won’t get lost in the sea of other messages.
Let’s take a closer look.
Indiehackers is a community focused on inspiring you to start a profitable business, turn your side hustle into a main source of income and grow your company.
- large community with active members
- a well-designed platform, where you can create both a personal profile and a project
- has lots of interviews and podcasts, sometimes it’s easy to get lost
- a large community means that getting attention for your project is harder
- not specifically focused on startups only, tho has a lot of projects in the industry
Projectium focuses on early-stage startups and providing a community for founders, contributors, and early adopters.
- a community tailored to the needs of startup founders, contributors, and early adopters
- the platform lets you keep your project “live” and create a community around it
- interactive cards feature of the platform let you gather all your project’s information in just one place and present it as a portfolio
- the platform is new so getting noticed and receiving feedback is easier
- lots of options for visual representation
- the platform is new and is in a beta-testing version right now
- the community doesn’t have a very large number of users just yet
If you managed to build a strong personal network, then you might want to run a series of polls asking questions to validate your startup idea. You might not even ask directly, but try to understand the “pain points” of your audience and its needs.
- easy – posting a poll takes just a minute
- no need to create a profile, most likely you already have one (if no, you definitely should!)
- you have to have a large personal network, preferably over 1,000 people
- you will likely get feedback from people who are not your target audience
- your poll might will get lost in your other posts
No matter what idea validation path you will take, remember to make sure you’re getting feedback from your target audience, not just random people.
How much feedback do I need to get?
The simple answer – the more the better, but around 100 people should be your goal. Don’t be afraid to follow up with those people answering your polls and providing you with short answers. If they’re your future audience, ask for a 15-minute call and try to learn more about their needs, problems, and challenges they face.
Idea validation would definitely take time, but this is the crucial step in building your startup, take it very seriously.