Mercator Launch

The 5 ultimate validation tips

Validating your ideas and assumptions is a very important step when creating a startup. Want to know how to do this best and what to look out for? Check out the 5 ultimate validation tips:  

   1. Recognize (the importance of validating)

In the early stages of your startup, your business concept is mostly based on assumptions. It’s tricky to build your startup based on these assumptions, because what if you develop something nobody is waiting for? Therefore, it’s key to figure out what needs to be true for your idea(s) to work. By validating your assumptions, you’ll reduce the uncertainty of your idea ‘failing’ as much as possible before you spend any money on product development.

   2. Prioritize

It’s important to have clear sight on your most critical assumptions. You can rank your hypotheses based on how critical they are for your idea to survive and thrive. Not all assumptions are equally important, some can kill your business, whereas others matter only once you get the most important ones right. To prioritize, you can score your assumptions on importance and (presence of) evidence. The most important assumption with little evidence is the one you have to validate first.

   3. Discover & Validate

At the start of your business, the riskiest assumption is often ‘’the need of customers’’. If customers do not have a problem or need that you can solve or fulfil, they won’t buy your product or service. My tip is to talk with potential customers as soon as possible in order to validate the desirability of your business idea. Avoid going for the easiest way by sending surveys into the wild, but have a face-to-face conversation with real customers. It’s important to take non-verbal reactions such as their enthusiasm, expression and interest into account. It gives you a sense of your customers’ situation and the significance of the problem. Don’t know where to find your customers? Put your network (or ours) into action and simply contact them. Maybe you’re feeling unsure or insecure, but in the end you just have to do it to learn from it.

   4. Learn

During conversations with customers, avoid receiving socially desirable answers. People want you to like them, so they often tell you what you want to hear. You can use three rules to get the most useful data out of your customer interviews:
· Talk about their life instead of your idea
· Ask about specifics in the past instead of opinions about the future
· Talk less and listen more
The golden rule: ‘’You aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is and they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build’’.

   5. Pivot

After you analyse the data from, for example, customer interviews and you notice that your idea doesn’t fit the problem or needs of your intended customer, don’t be afraid to pivot your idea into a new direction. In the startup world, it’s normal to end up with a completely different product or service than your original business idea. When you pivot, it’s a sign that you understand your customer, their problem and the need for a solution. So, I dare you to pivot!

Radboud Universiteit | Radboudumc
Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen
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