Stage 2.1: Idea Validation, Part 2

Identifying the Competition

As you continue to validate your idea, it evolves from testing interest from a potential customer(s) to assessing the larger market and the companies that would be your competitors. From what you learn through your customer research, you develop the ability to describe how customers currently solve for the problem you are exploring. Who else is out there with a  solution to the problem? What are they doing (or not doing) to solve their customer’s pain points?  Having competitors is certainly not a bad thing, as the competitors may not be solving the problem the way your customer wants it solved.  It could be too expensive, too slow, too cumbersome, narrow in scope or too broad in scope.  However, having no competitors for a problem is very rare.

There is always a competitor in the way a customer is currently solving the problem now.  When you acknowledge the competitor and identify how they serve their customers, you can being to define the differentiation and defensibility of your idea! For more thoughts on analyzing your competitors, you should read the following:

Customer Persona and Journey Roadmap

With your customer discovery and your competitive benchmarking completed, you can start to develop detailed customer persona(s) of your top 2-3 customer profiles, also known as your primary personas. A persona represents a composite of your customer, which is effectively the characteristics, behaviors, and demographic information of a customer profile. This is paired with a detailed map of how the customer makes decisions during the buying process.

Validated Problem Statement

With these in hand (customer discovery, interest testing, solution/competitive benchmarking, customer persona, and customer journey) you can complete the value proposition statement with ideas for clear and differentiated solutions. These solutions are the ideas that you then begin to test, which is known as MVP (minimum viable product) testing.  Creating MVPs around your product or service and testing them against your target customer’s needs and uses is the process through which you refine your solution.  You may also begin to understand the best approach for a go-to-market (GTM) strategy and develop the insight to outline your business model for delivering your product.  Similar to. the process of MVP testing, these business model insights lead to another set of tests. You should also be able to make assumptions about GTM strategy and business model that you can start to test, which is the next phase of your startup.

Turn Your Idea into a Product Users Want

Experienced product leader, Julia Austin, gives her advice and process to finding product-market fit.