Updated: Oct 9, 2022
by Menia in partnership with Auxilia Global to support women founders around the world.
So, you have an idea for a product that you think will change the world, maybe improve people’s lives or reduce the pain of a lengthy process.
Awesome, but how do you start?
First things, first. You think you have an awesome idea, and this is wonderful, but great ideas exist all over around us, what is it that makes them great products on the other hand is a whole other story. Having an awesome solution to a problem that isn’t really a problem is not going to get you far. You always need to focus on the problem and question it again and again. Maybe you’ve been in an industry for a long time and felt the pain yourself, or witnessed friends experiencing this pain point or you decided to tackle one of the big problems our whole world is experiencing.
This is a moment of realisation, these experiences are all feedback that supports your idea, but of course, this is only a small piece of the puzzle through your own, somewhat, biased eyes. The first thing you can do is talk about this problem, research and understand what the current solution(s) are, if any.
You need to think of it in two dimensions:
The person and the problem Who is experiencing it and why is it painful?
Then you can go out and find these people, approach them with empathy and try to understand:
who they are
what drives them
what’s getting in the way of achieving their goals
what are their aspirations
why they experience this problem, and
what are they doing about
At this early stage it is not about your great idea; not just yet. It is about the problem, the people and your empathetic ear. Identifying these people will guide you when you want to test a solution or a new feature, help you think:
Would what I’m designing fit around their lifestyle and help them solve this problem? There are many ways you can find these people.
Think about the places that the may be hanging out, the groups they may be part of, the conferences they may be attending, find them on social media and just approach them. It may sound uncomfortable, it sure as hell felt like that for me, but it does get easier. Some people will respond, and some won’t, but you’ll get invaluable insights of your customers. Founder of auxilia Georgie Smallwood has shared a great experience on that, that may just motivate you a bit more to approach these people.
As you have created and validated your “persona” you need to find more of these people and talk with them. Think about 2 big questions that will help you validate the problem, such as:
Why is this a pain point?
What are they currently doing about this?
Approach the conversation with an open-mind and try to avoid confirmation bias. The way you can achieve this, is by asking many open-ended questions like:
How they experience this problem
how it affects their lives
how painful do they find it
why the current solutions are not working for them, and
what they may have done to counteract this.
You may be surprised to find out that the actual problem lies somewhere else in the chain. Notice that by this point, I still haven’t actually mentioned your idea at all! This is indeed intentional, you should be obsessing about problems, rather than solutions and approaching people to talk about this problem, whether they are your identified potential customers, leaders you admire or people from the industry, all will help you gather feedback and validate the problem and thus, prove or disprove your assumed solution. Talking to 20–30 people may be a good starting point.
Now that you have obtained all this valuable knowledge, have connected with your potential customers, understood their problems and aspirations, you can start thinking about solutions, sketch them out and start sharing them with your potential customers to get even more feedback.
Validating early stage ideas is a journey of empathy, listening, connecting, exploring, and challenging your experiences and assumptions. Enjoy it, it is going to be full of surprises, new experiences and valuable failures!