Validate ideas by interviewing target customers
Most in the startup world agree that validating your idea before investing months/years of your time in building a product is a pretty smart thing to do. But for many, they don't know how to do it or where to start.
There are many ways to validate an idea, and even more ways to do it wrong. This guide will focus on the method that involves talking to the people that will be your target customers. In my opinion, this is one of the most reliable methods of validation because if you do it well, by the time you have built your product you already have your first customers ready to pay you.
I wrote a guide on interview-based idea validation which if you haven't read already, I would definitely check it out. Seriously, go read it, it has over 50 hours of knowledge compressed into a 7-minute read, along with templates & examples that you can use.
The interview-based idea validation guide has 6 steps:
- #1 Define the problem
- #2 Determine your biggest risks
- #3 Find your target audience
- #4 Request for interviews
- #5 Do the interview
- #6 Assess Feedback
This guide that you're reading right now contains the practical steps #3 & #4, which is a very crucial part that many folks struggle with. The good news is that if your target customers hang out on Reddit, it's not very hard to find them using GummySearch.
Steps to validating your idea on GummySearch
In today's how-to guide, we're going to take on the persona of a real estate agent that has noticed a large amount of her clients recently are purchasing homes for the purpose of listing them on AirBnB as a rental property. They have tons of questions on the process, and you have the answers. After seeing a pattern, you have your idea:
💡 A cohort-based course for first-time homeowners that want to list their property on AirBnB
Good idea? Let's find out!
1. Find communities full of your target audience
The first thing we will do is find online communities on Reddit for AirBnB hosts or real estate investors.
I've written a full guide on finding Subreddits, so we won't cover it here, but I found 9 relevant Subreddits with 1.6 million people across them. Should be a good place for us to start!
2. Research pain points and current solutions
The suggested conversations feature in your Audience is a wonderful place to first dive into the kinds of conversations that are happening in these communities. Depending on the stage of ideation you are in, and the type of business you are researching, you'll want to check out different kinds of suggestions.
In our example, since we're making an informational product, the "Advice Requests" suggestions will give us some insight into the kinds of questions that people ask in these communities. Make sure to follow through to the comments to find the solutions that are recommended by the community, these will come in handy in your customer development interviews.
3. Keep track of relevant conversations
There are definitely a lot of conversations happening in these communities, and they are all over the place. Let's dive into ones that are more specific to the idea we are validating and find posts where people are asking for courses/books/classes on real estate investing, or have basic questions about owning AirBnB properties.
To find questions on educational material, we'll use the Browse feature to search for "courses", "classes", "learn how to" in the Audience. For AirBnB-specific questions, we'll search "AirBnB property" and "First AirBnB".
Our goal now is to organize relevant conversations into lists for easy access, and then reach out to the users who posted and ask to interview them about their problems, how they currently solve them, and decision-making criteria for purchasing solutions to help them along their journey.
You can make as many conversation lists as you want. They will be available on the conversations page.
Coming Soon: Similar conversations to ones you've saved, as well as ability to share these lists with others.
4. Request for interviews
Okay great, we've found a bunch of people asking for resources regarding purchasing their first property to rent out as an AirBnb. We've read those conversations and mapped out the recommendations that other community members have offered.
Are we done validating? No! We haven't talked to any humans yet!
Check out the guide to interview-based idea validation for the full scope of what to consider in validation interviews, and how to ask questions that actually validate your idea instead of getting people to tell you it's a good idea because they are too nice.
Based on the research we've done on current solutions, it looks like a lot of folks recommend YouTube videos on first-time real estate investing. So one of the things we'd probably want to dig into in our interviews is, which free resources have our target customers considered, what they have found lacking in those resources, and where they could use some more guided education.
There are 2 ways you can get people from Reddit to talk to you to answer your validation questions.
You've been saving a bunch of relevant conversations to lists for research purposes. These are wonderful people to reach out to directly and ask for 20 minutes of their time to ask them a few questions. Since some of those conversations are current and some are older, you'll get some good insight into both current problems/questions, and how these people solved their past problems/questions and what they ended up paying for.
Not everyone on Reddit is a poster, some are lurkers. Let's talk to them too.
The best way is to make a submission of your own describing the problem you're hoping to solve, and asking if anyone is willing to talk to you if they have this problem. Something along the lines of "Are you nervous/unsure about buying your first property to list on AirBnB? Come talk to me about your questions & concerns".
Please make sure to follow the community guidelines for submitting. If you've new to Reddit, check out my reddit for startups guide, which has some helpful things to watch out for.
5. Track to stay in the loop
You've sent out your feelers and hopefully have had some people agree to chat with you. Perfect!
The more conversations you'll have, the more you'll know about your target customer. So make sure to stay on top of new conversations as they come up.
You can track keywords within your Audience to be notified when there's a conversation happening that is relevant to the idea you are validating.
Validation is a continuous process
Hopefully by now, you see the benefits of validating your solution, and are confident in being able to consistently find people to talk to in order to confirm that what you are making is something people want.
Remember, validation isn't something that you do just once! Markets change, needs change, and new solutions become available all the time. It's important to consistently talk to your existing or potential customers to make sure that what you're offering or plan to offer is in line with what they require.
GummySearch has only been around for 6 months at the time of this post, but I've done 2 major rounds of validation & customer interviews, and have another one coming up. For pivots, positioning updates, or even new features, it's worth the time to talk to your users to make sure you're not building in a bubble!