Is the juice worth the squeeze?
The pre-validation process is the stage that comes in just before we enter MVP testing, if at all. By pre-validating your MVP, you limit the wastage of resources that go into testing inconsequential ideas. Products should exist because they offer solutions to market needs while making commercial sense.
For every concept that succeeds, there are thousands that don’t. Many product managers and entrepreneurs conceive ideas that they think solve pain points known to them or a small group. However, rarely are the pain points shared by a large enough audience to make the idea commercially viable.
A simple pre-validation process involves addressing certain critical areas of concern. This is by no means a conclusive list but helps deliver a broader perspective of the problem and solution.
Can the problem be ignored? Is there a workaround? Is the workaround cumbersome? How are customers currently managing this problem? Will the problem persist over the long run or is this a short-term phenomenon? Can the problem be eliminated entirely by our new concept? Will some areas be left unattended?
Are close substitutes available in the market? Will prospects consider them as a makeshift solution? Are they more economical? What threats do they pose now or in the future?
What is the estimated market size for this problem? Is this problem faced locally, regionally, nationally or globally? Are there any regulations or laws – legal, environmental, labor, privacy, societal, etc. that need to be complied with? Where will this market be 3/5yrs from now, even 10?
How established is competition in this market? Will it make sense to enter at this stage? How are they helping solve the problem? Are there any gaps in their solutions? How is the product differentiated from the competition and is it sustainable? Do we anticipate a reaction from competition and how?
What are the product features needed to solve the problem? What is the best method of delivery – physical/virtual? Can it be built in-house? Does development need to be outsourced? What is unique about the solution that the competition hasn’t identified? Why will customers see more value in our solution? Can our solution be patented or trademarked? Can we establish an early mover advantage?
What is the timeline to deliver the solution? Will the market exist by then? Would the market parameters change – environmental/legal/political etc? Where would the competition be at the time we launch?
What resources do we have currently and what would we need in the future? What is the current pricing structure from competition? Based on estimation, what will it cost to build such a solution? Is the margin worth going after? Is it sustainable? How will prices behave over the short, medium and long-term?
Pre-validating the concept saves a lot of resources. It forms the basis of Go/No-Go thinking. If the concept passes the pre-validation stage, it would have accumulated sufficient data and analysis to offer confidence in testing the MVP. Imagine a team’s performance level when it has enough research under its belt to warrant a strong belief in the viability of its product.