I believe the essence of modern day startup is all about constant market validation – doing it as light and as quickly as possible. Agile, lean, whatever words you want to throw in here. And super early stage market validation (before even a landing page or a line of code is written) is particularly important. We are talking about from 0 to 0.01.
Whilst it may sound obvious, doing it is not. And one of the biggest mistakes is to go out and simply ask “do you think this will work?” or worse, ask “how would you think this could work?”.
Market validation is NOT about asking if your startup idea will work or not. The only person who should care about ‘how‘ it works should be YOU. This is where founders get a lot of distraction, negativity and irrelevant comments. It’s important to keep the conversation to as basic as “would you use this service” rather than making it as a macro-economic or Mckinsey’s type market analysis. And if the person is not one of your target customers (therefore the question “would you use this service” is irrelevant), than you are probably talking to the wrong person. Or at most, you are more asking for mentoring (or may be lecturing), rather than market validation.
Obviously, even if you ask a simple question that focuses on whether they are willing to be your beta (or may be alpha?) users, people will still say things. Lots of things. The world is full of commentators and spectators. So it’s important for you to take out the negativity. Never try to ‘answer’ or ‘defend’ your (potential) solution/offering. You don’t need to. You don’t have a offering. That is why you are doing this super early stage validation! Your job at this stage is to listen and gather facts, although funny enough the ‘facts’ here are the subjective opinions of the people. Based on these facts, you should start modifying your proposition and try again to see whether more people are willing to use the the hypothetical service that you are contemplating.
Most importantly, don’t get personal.