Idea to Startup. Step four – test the waters.

Play it smart. Test the waters before you make a dive.
In the previous post of Idea to Startup we looked at how to name your startup. Now its time to get started on doing the actual thing with no further delay. Test the waters. This is a very important step towards building a successful startup. Many people get flown away with the passion to start, they are so passionate about the idea and positivity that it is going to change the world that they miss the intricate details and the basic steps that are required to take it to the next level. Also dont waste time with unnecessary stuff like registration, filing a patent, filing for trademark, etc., you can do it once you have a business plan figured out.  At this point the main focus must be on developing the Minimal Viable Product so you can test it out and prepare for the next level.
If its a product/service idea
– can you make a prototype and get it tested by real users?
– if so how much would it cost? how long would it take?
– is there a similar or close product match available? what are the reviews of people using it? what features do people like the most? can you incorporate them in yours? what features does your product have that stands out?
if its a software idea
– can you make a basic version and get it rolled out to small group of people?
– how long would it take and cost ?
– can you bootstrap for the funds to make it? are you going to build it yourself?
– if outsourcing to another firm there are several things you must be careful about ( proper written agreement with the developing firm, NDA , delivery schedule and maintenance agreement) . Outsourcing at this stage is not advisable as it takes double the time estimated to make a software, you might lose intrest by the time it is developed.
– build it yourself (i mean the team), test it out, roll it to specific crowd and learn from their feedback
If its something that takes a lot of money to make a proto/test case product take help of surveys – make a survey and roll it out to your target audience. Use social media channels to get people respond to your survey. Go out and meet target customers (at exhibitions, confrences, smoke area, wherever you can find them) try to understand the product fit that is needed.
A basic proto version is necessary to get into the next level. Also this exercise makes you aware of challenges in making the actual product. Target customer survey gives you the ground reality of whats needed.
How to do an online survey? – its easy, you can make a simple google form in gdrive and share the links on social, or you can use surveymonkey or zoomerang. The catch lies in the type of questions you ask. Keep it short and simple. Allow users to write their experiences. Dont ask too many personal questions that would drive them away.
Don’t rush to pitch for investments as yet. Without a proper business plan, no investor will be able to help you out. Its the most common mistake people do, they go out seeking investment as soon as Idea is born.
We will get to the investments in next couple of steps. Do this exercise carefully and observe what works and what does not. We will be learning about making a Business Plan in our next step.

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