After many study cases about the customer validation process with many startups at early stages on entrepreneurship courses, business incubators and startup events like startup weekend, I have seen a difficulty to understand or to get the right plan for the first steps of validation. Many projects start with a great vision or idea, the first step they do is to make a Bussiness Model Canvas or Lean Canvas, where post-its are placed by everywhere… here´s where the problem begins.
For those with a strong knowledge or enough experience in the topic, the next thing to do is to validate and it sounds easy, but many of the begginers on startups struggle trying to understand the correct meaning of validation. I have designed the following board as a useful tool for the first steps in validation. Before starting, some points must be clear:
- A startup is not a company.
- Most startups fail due to the lack of costumers.
- While you are running customer validation process, you are also running product development process.
- There is no process or recipe, just tools, or frameworks.
The Customer Development process is based on the scientific method:
- Construct hypotheses.
- Test by doing an experiment.
- Validate or invalidate
The same meaning is based on the First Steps Validation Board:
The first columns are the base for organizing your validation, every topic is an area to validate.
According to Customer Development process propposed by Steve Blank in Four Steps to the Epiphany the first three rows are focused on the Customer Discovery, where you are finding first of all a Customer with a real problem who likes your solution. ONLY if you have validated those three aspects you can go to the next level, the Customer Validation.
The second column is dedicated to write your assumptions or hypotheses, no more than three assumptions by area to validate. If you have done a Lean Canvas, you start making assumptions from it, like the following image:
Once you have your assumptions ready, you must define an experiment for each assumption. And a metric to measure every single experiment; the metrics are important because is the only way to know if have validated every assumptions. Can be an experiment that validates many assumptions.
At this stage you can find a lot of experiments to validate your assumptions depending of the nature of your project: Exploration experiments:
- Emphaty Map
- Story board
- Surveys (google docs, survey monkey, wufoo, facebook)
- Cold email
- Cold call
- Fake Ads
- Pitch in person
- Meetings, user groups, conferences.
- Landing pages (unbounce, launchrock, checkthis)
At the end of your expermients, you need to know if your assumptions are valid or not. The fifth and sixth columns are for you to judge your expermient results. If your assumption is not validated by default that means a pivot.
This is not the end, it is just the beggining of your startup process, but it is a good kickoff to get into the right path.
REMBER: All the validation must to be done OUT OF THE BUILDING!
And you can see the slideshare presentation here: