Whether you’re a first-time startup founder or have multiple businesses in your portfolio, every new venture should offer a solution to a problem worth solving. This article will walk you through the phases of how to design and validate an idea and solutions for your target customers.
Nick Coster, from Brainmates, shared how he and his team help product owners deliver products that customers love.
And speaking of products that customers love, according to Fundsquire, 42% of startups fail because they build products or services that have no market need.
Deliver products that your target market will love. But how? By solving problems in the marketplace that no one else is solving and doing it better than anyone else in the marketplace!
Big brands such as Google and Apple have solved problems that no one else is doing, and they are doing it effectively.
Why is validating your idea important?
The goal of idea validation is to ensure the viability of your business model and that your idea has real demand; otherwise, it is considered as “just another cool idea.” Idea validation is the process that begins with your embryonic plan, gains market approval, and ends with a satisfied customer base.
New ideas contain unpredictability, and if some of them go wrong, they can devastate your plans all at once. Validation reduces risk, accelerates market delivery of a value-creating service, and reduces costs.
To avoid building and launching a product or concept that no one wants or is willing to pay for, an idea should be validated before investing significant time and resources in developing it.
What makes a good startup idea?
Your startup concept must address a market need, and you must understand how to do so. Another way to put it is that a good startup idea solves a problem for a specific group of people and that you can do it.
And one of the challenges organisations are facing is that they don’t have a consistent way of attacking the flow from an idea. They often start with a project just for the sake of making something.
Brainmates solution to this challenge is IDEATION. Which is a kind of formalization of people coming together with a spark of an idea. They make sure that there is an underlying problem to solve to deliver the product or service that the customer needs.
Ideation is the third stage of the design thinking process, and it encourages open thinking and risk-taking in order to generate strong and distinct ideas.
“When people talk about ideas, they always talk about solutions.”- Nick Coster
Ideation differs from a typical idea planning session in that it allows for independent thinking as well as collaboration.
The four key elements Coster proposed as part of their ideation process are the following:
New ideas are created in this phase. An innovation process always begins with the search for and discovery of innovative potentials, as well as the generation of ideas, which are then evaluated. This phase allows you to find other alternatives or even better, faster, cheaper solutions.
A new idea can be inspired by an improvement on an existing idea or by starting from scratch.
The most problems organisations face is having lots and lots of ideas. A long list of ideas, and they don’t know where to start.
Here is the list of “to-dos” you can follow to be able to choose the best ideas from that long list of ideas:
- Take a deep breath.
- Declare a moment of the day as an ideation session to start to bring your ideas together.
- Refine some ideas down into an ordered list or rank list.
How to rank an idea?
- One step before you rank is to make sure you have the right information.
- Then think, pause and ask why — why should these ideas even exist?
“It’s important to pick a small subset of ideas as early as possible.”
According to Nick Coster, there’s a template or a tool you can use called Idea Pad. It has four or five quadrants in one circle.
The circle in the middle is where you put your idea, and in each quadrant, you ask a question.
Here are sample questions you can include in the quadrants, but you can literally create your own based on your objectives.
First question: Who’s the customer who will benefit from this idea?
Second question: What problem/s are we solving for them? (That particular customer or target market)
Third question: What benefit will that customer or target market get if we can solve the problem?
Fourth question: From a business perspective, what’s in it for us?
The Design Phase is where you look at all of the potential solutions and narrow them down to find the most effective and efficient way to build the solution. This phase will let you go deeper into the customer problem because you shouldn’t be designing the product yet.
The Design Phase addresses the question of “how” you will construct the best solution.
A design thinking framework Nick Coster mentioned was the Double Diamond design thinking process which the British Design Council developed, it uses critical thinking and reflective practice to apply design characteristics to reach creative solutions and innovative ideas.
The Double Diamond model has four stages: Discover, Definition, Development, and Delivery.
The first stage of the Double Diamond model entails learning more about the various variables that influence the problem and its potential solution. Companies typically begin this process by defining their problem, presenting their hypothesis, and defining ways to learn more.
You arrive at the definition stage of the Double Diamond model after gathering all of that data in the first stage. In the Double Diamond model, the definition stage consists of going over all of the information from stage one and expanding on it. This can include identifying bottlenecks or resource waste, spotting hidden opportunities, or creating a list of things the design team should never do.
The development stage entails a lot of multi-disciplinary work – bringing designers together with internal partners such as engineers, developers, or other departments with project expertise. This aspect of the development stage has a significant advantage in that it speeds up problem-solving by bringing together different departments.
The final stage is to take one last look at the product to ensure there are no flaws. This usually entails testing it against any applicable regulations and legal standards, as well as damage and/or compatibility testing.
This stage is where most businesses excel at. The challenge here is not how you do or create things but how to make the right thing.
The key to the creation of the final product or service is implementation. It’s the tool-making or product-making part. In this phase of ideation, prototyping is important. Testing with a small and well-chosen sample set of users can help in the creation of a game-changing product.
The explore phase encourages designers to leave the building and interact with users, learning about their lives, emotions, and needs. Go out and actually do the hard work. Each of the ideas you’ve chosen or generated from the previous stages could actually be a disaster or a success.
By the end of your exploration, you will have seen the world through the eyes of your users and gained insights into a solution that meets their needs.
Find a click target market that you can access. If you can find a herd of customers that have the same problem and they express that they’re interested, then the idea is worth exploring even further.
How to find these customers?
- Try and capture as much information about the target market as you can. Catch all those assumptions you need. Use the MSU (Making Shit Out) protocol to do and to kick things off.
- Do market segmentation.
- Define persona. Once your target market is refined and you know that customers exist, they become your focus. Then you can build a persona around that.
It is critical to validate your idea early in the entrepreneurial process to avoid wasting time and resources developing a product that isn’t a good fit. Obtaining market validation can also instil confidence in investors, crowd funders, and banks who are interested in funding your startup.