Will your startup turn out? How to predict it?

Authors: Zbigniew Waz

10.07.2018
The Janet Kraus Test

For a quick idea check, a 10-second test, invented by Janet Kraus, entrepreneur and lecturer at Harvard Business School, will fit the bill. She proposes to answer the question of what your product is, for a potential customer - oxygen, aspirin or a jewel.
Oxygen is goods or services without which you cannot live. Water, food, clothing and other items are always needed and for everyone. Aspirin is a product that makes life easier and saves people from pain. A good example will be the medicine itself. What else? Phones, cars, mobile internet…

Jewels ate goods or services that are a source of pleasure. People do not buy them out of necessity.


Kraus thinks that good ideas contain all three ingredients. Otherwise, one should consider and honestly admit to themselves that there is a gap and then ask how to fill it. Example? Take any popular brand of sneakers. In fact, footwear registers in the air category. However, the use of modern technologies that help stabilize the foot makes it possible to add an aspirin category and turning your shoe into a Jewel can be done through advertisement.
How to do it: The Disney method

Disney Studios used an interesting technique. The project planning team moved between three rooms: a room of wizards, a room of realists and a room of critics.

In the first room they could submit all their ideas: absurd, cosmically expensive, or technologically unrealistic. The team saved them and went to the next room. Here, from wizards, they transformed into realists. In this role, the participants were wondering how each idea could be implemented, how much time and money would be spent on it, whether there are ways to simplify the process or whether there are ready solutions or alternatives. In the critics' room the project was judged the most severe. Is it really an excellent variant? Is it possible to simplify and reduce costs? Maybe this product does not solve the problem and should the idea be further refined?

Usually, after the critics' room, the idea returned to the first or second room for reworking. Often, several such cycles took place. The trial was considered complete if there was silence in the critics' room.

Currently, this method is used by many companies. Of course, it is not necessary to have three rooms to implement it. You can also switch mentally.

For whom: "Mom’s test" and other types of polls

Mom’s test means to survey your friends or clients. The basis of the name is the most popular mistake made by entrepreneurs during communication with clients. They show them the product, talk about it and ask how much they like it. As a result, however, subconsciously provoke misleading answers. It's exactly like asking your mom. A Mother always says that her child is the best in the world and their product is perfect. Clients will have the same reaction. They will lie, not wanting to offend you, or just so they don’t have to answer any more of your questions.

To hear honest answers, ask your customers open questions. For example, what defects and problematic places can be seen. How can you solve these problems? Then analyze the answers and accept the final option that will best help you satisfy your customers. Often, you do not have to do everything they suggest. Handle to the selection wisely and only select the most important aspects.

Who to sell to: Target site and social networks

Eric Ries, in the book The Lean Startup, offers the following variant: build a page with one, and only button: "Buy". The website can be, and even should be, promoted as the actual product home page. Only with a smaller budget. The collected data will show how many people are actually willing to buy the product. If we prepare several pages, with different prices, we will also be able to determine how many people are willing to pay for it. This method is called the lean method.

Alternatively, you can consider creating posts in social media - in groups where your potential recipients are located. Another solution may also be placing ads on bulletin boards or other platforms.

It’s not enough to simply count the clients who have shown some interest, but you should transfer them to the waiting list: call or write with a request to wait for their turn. You do not necessarily have to say that you do not have a product. You can say that it was sold out quickly and you are now creating a waiting list for a new batch.

MVP Concierge

This is the process of testing a hypotheses when you do not have a product as such, but only its MVP (a minimum viable product). All basic tasks are carried out manually in order to be able to automate them in the future, if they have value for the client.

Typically, customers do not know about it. This approach allows you to not waste time and money developing products or their separate functions that are not needed by the customer.


Finally: The Edison Method

Try to modify and improve the idea. Each failed test provides valuable information. Problems can always be fixed. The inventor, Thomas Edison, can be regarded as a popularizer of this approach. He did not understand the word "defeat." Each failed experiment was a new experience for him. When inventing the light bulb, he conducted about 9000 experiments, while working on the first battery, it was more like 50,000 experiments. The scientist established himself "allocations for inventions" and worked fanatically in hundreds of different directions, testing all possible solutions. When Edison was asked what his secret was, he replied: "I did not fail. I just discovered 10,000 wrong solutions. "

If you are not satisfied with the test results, do not give up. Work on the idea and start testing again. Be like Edison, and everything will work out.