Does Your Startup Idea Solve a Problem?

February 19, 2016 | Rob LaPointe

Stop me if you’ve heard something like this before: I’ve got a great idea. It’s going to make millions. Basically, my startup is going to help people get that last bit of peanut butter out of the jar. Because that’s an issue that everyone has.

Now, if I was a venture capitalist and someone pitched me that idea, I’d have some serious questions to ask:

• Did your parents drop you on your head as a child?

• Are you on drugs?

• Did you talk to anyone but yourself about this?

• Seriously though, are you sure you’re not on drugs?

So what’s wrong with the idea? There’s no marketability. When you go to create a startup, you need to make sure that your services will have an area of applicability. Or, in other words, what problem are you trying to solve?

Some of my more literal readers may, at this point, be saying but it does solve an issue – that peanut butter at the bottom of the jar is hard to get. Yes, that is technically a problem and yes, creating a device to help you get that peanut butter is a solution. But there are serious flaws:

• As a problem it’s extremely limited.

The people who consider missing a spoonful of peanut butter as a serious problem are far and few between. The people who are willing to pay for a solution are even further and fewer.

• The competition for a solution is not only expansive, but it’s well established.

Most of us call it a long handled spoon.

• Even without a competitor’s solution, the problem is easily overcome and doesn’t require another fix.

Obviously, there are some clear steps to problem-solving necessary to validating your startup idea – but that’s only the start. The rest of this post will cover not only how to see if your idea has a chance, but some other tips you may want to consider prior to launching your startup. After reading this, head over to our CEO’s Perspective page for some more startup tips.

Validate Your Idea

There are a couple of ways to do this:

• The most basic way is to bounce your idea off someone. While someone can be a family member or friend, they tend to be too nice. Find someone who can be brutally honest – a partner with skin in the game, or a friend who won’t spare your feelings. Does this person think your startup provides a marketable solution?

• Research, research, research. What else is there to say?

Create a simple web page to see if your startup idea has any traction. A simple landing page is a double edged sword:

• It gauges interest:

If your landing page is getting a lot of search engine and/or organic traffic, then you know there’s some interest; and

• It excites interest:

If people think there is a much needed solution to their problem on its way, they talk about it. A good landing page will get people excited and talking to other people with the same problem.

• Landing pages are also an inexpensive tool – a good developer can build one for you for about $800

A Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is a tried and true method of testing an idea. An MVP is basically a bare-bones example of your idea. This can be as simple as a presentation or an actual beta product. Simpler is better, but if your MVP is too simple, you run the risk of underselling or confusing people.

• Validated Learning

This is a concept derived from the relatively new type of startup – the Lean Startup. Validated learning basically means testing an idea in small iterations. In other words, you start with what is essentially an MVP. Something low key, but still effectively demonstrates your idea.

Find out if your MVP generates some (or any) interest, and ask your test group what they liked, what they didn’t, and what can be improved. Take that feedback and improve your MVP. Then release the Slightly More than Minimal Viable Product (SMtMVP?); then repeat, over and over again. This creates a solution created by a conversation between you and your target market – pretty clever, right?

Location, Location, Location

Even if your startup idea provides a great solution to an ever-aching issue, it may still fail. Here are some quick tips you can use along the way:

1. Location is everything for a startup. Startups need support and an infrastructure. Find a place that not only provides all three, but fits your industry;

2. Don’t be afraid to seek out investment from venture capitalists or angel investors. If they’re willing to invest in your idea, there’s a good chance they think it’s going to succeed;

3. Check with industry experts. The last tip we have is to find a tech partner who provides their expertise. All tech startups need help along the way and we’re here to lend a helping hand. Our experts are trained to not only design and develop technological solutions, but to create strategies for success. Our company thrives when our customers do. Call 408.621.8481 today to speak with our specialists or email us at team@sdi.la and start your problem solving app or web business. Game on.

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