Hello Cofounderslab community!
I am a non-technical founder. My background is in sales and marketing. I am looking for some advice regarding the best path to validating an idea.
1) If I have a high-fidelity working prototype of my product and I go out to do a bunch of user focus groups. How much data and feedback is needed before you are confident enough that you have a strong product/market fit and are willing to invest time and money into building an MVP?
2) If I am at the stage of building the MVP, should I hire an app development company to build it? or find technical co-founder(s) to build it? or both?
I'd love any insight in to this process because I'd rather not through my time and money down the drain. Thanks community!
1) I actually just wrote an article on this very subject: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-exactly-product-validation-dimitry-rotstein/
2) A technical co-founder is usually the best option by far (for several reasons) - the main downside is that it's very difficult to find one. But I submit that you can create a working MVP yourself (not necessarily low fidelity), even if you're not a tech person. It will probably be extremely unscalable, but it will allow you to test product-market fit and also attract co-founders (and investors, why not).
Hi Michael, what a great question!
I believe Dimitry's article provides a great scale for the different levels of validation. However, do bear in mind that the level of validation you will need to achieve is completely relative to the industry, idea and your own expertise/ability both within that domain and as an entrepreneur.
For example, if you have identified a completely green pasture with no competitors in a multi billion dollar industry and you are a foremost expert in the said field, with experience building a company, then you may require no validation (enter Elon Musk). You will have investors lined up to give you their money and a choice of co-founders.
On the other hand if you have the highest-level of validation, in a highly competitive and saturated market, it may take you a long time to find someone to back you. An example of this is the Robin Hood App, a 1.3 Billion dollar free stock trading app that went through 75 investor meetings before receiving the funding they needed.
As for the MVP, it is always great to have a technical co-founder. It is useful, not only in helping to choose tech stacks and a scalable architecture for your MVP but also for bouncing ideas off-of.
However, if you have such a strong idea and believe in it enough to build a MVP and validate it first, then you will have your pick of technical co founders, post funding. Once again, this decision is high relative to your situation.
I wish you good luck, I would be happy to discuss with you further if you feel it may be helpful or you need some technical guidance. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It depends... It depends on how hard it will be for you to find a technical co-founder that is willing to make your prototype for equity (and a lot of us technical people get approached with ideas like that and feel reluctant as we have to do all the work and usually our co-founder wants to keep a large share of the equity). It often doesn't cost a lot to make a prototype you can market test with, and can be done quickly by most software development companies. So if risking a few thousand dollars is tolerable to you, you may gain speed by developing the prototype on your own and speed, especially today, is a big competitive advantage.
I happen to be a tech guy looking for a small company to found or join but that is an entirely different story :) To answer your questions I would say that
1. the single best way of validating your idea is to get someone to actually pay for it. With real money. No letters of intent, no "would you buy this if"'s but actual sales. Depending on the pricing of your product and whether or not you are able to fulfill the sale (say, if your tech is just an enabler for a service that does not require a lot of tech to fulfill nonscalable) of course. Enough pre-sales may even fund the product itself.
2. Find a co-founder. Especially if you have no background in software development. The incentives between consultants/agencies and you are grossly misaligned and you will likely run out of money before you have the product you thought you paid for.