Four approaches to Idea Validation

Signal Aggregation
The Signal Aggregation approach is a great way to quickly validate an idea without building an MVP. A signal is defined as evidence that proves the potential viability and profitability of an idea. Founders conduct small experiments to collect those signals. Here is a list of examples of this approach that I have seen work for founders:

  1. Launch a landing page and assess waitlist sign-ups
  2. Launch on Product Hunt to gauge interest from tech-savvy early-adopters
  3. Conduct research to see if the idea has been attempted in the past or in another country
  4. Design and presale the product without the actual product to see how many people click on ‘buy’
  5. Run social media ads and assess click-through-rate
  6. Build out a social media account (e.g. Instagram, Slack, Facebook, Discord, etc) to gauge engagement from target users
  7. Make a TikTok and assess engagement to see if the idea resonates with people
  8. Talk to people about the idea and ask if they would be willing to pay for the product during customer interviews

2) Strong Beta
Getting strong traction from an early (Beta product) is another popular way for a founder to validate their idea, but success metrics differ across industries. For example, tens of thousands of users and a 40% one-month retention rate are considered strong for a consumer social product, while $10K – $50K net monthly revenue is favorable for a B2C marketplace.

It usually starts with an initial hypothesis for a potential solution to a big problem.  The founder builds the simplest version necessary to validate their hypothesis. Beta products are often difficult to use and do not have the same aesthetic appeal as other products in the marketplace due to the speed at which they are made. This approach is most similar to the lean approach, which focuses on launching a product and iterating quickly.

3) True Fans
This approach is similar to Strong Beta in that it also requires the launch of a Beta product. However, the main differentiation is that instead of looking for significant traction in terms of revenue growth and user acquisition, the founder is looking for fanatic users that love the product despite its limited features. Fanatic users are defined as anyone who would be disappointed if the product went away. Many of the founders I spoke with mentioned that the number of fans does not matter beyond 20-50 users that absolutely love to use the product.

4) Visionary
This is the least common approach from the founders I have interviewed since it requires a clear vision about the product you want to build, and how you will build it. In most cases, the founder has a close personal connection to the problem they are solving and knows what needs to be done to solve it.