This is what I call a startup! You gather your team and take 3 days to validate your idea. No code. No marketing. Nothing but interviews and Running Lean.

Today is the second day. Our idea was a Manschool. Our hypothesis was that men would happily come learn how to do basic renovation work so they can fix up their home. This assumption we now know is completely false. Turns out people either know how, they hire someone or they let friends and family do it for free. Apparently there are loads of builders in Tallinn. The really interesting part was that while men mostly didn't care for our idea - women were interested. They like the idea of knowing how to do basic stuff and not depend on men for stuff they can actually do themselves. What's more important, it's exiting for them. It's also empowerment.

But okay, that's another idea to validate. Anyway here are some tips to help you not waste time on a product that nobody wants.

Save yourself years of work

If you start building your product from the get go, you're never going to find out that the best idea you've ever had is 7 ideas in the future.

In the end of the day you need to sell something to someone, right? That's what defines a business. Go find that person. Don't take their money, and don't scam anyone, but do get them close. Building your understanding of what different problems people have have will guide you to what your business needs to be about. And paying for the product is the ultimate validation.

The scariest activity in a startup

Meeting people. Jesus how hard it is. Here's a solution: find a great wingman. A good wingman is a business partner who you feel comfortable with doing things you're not used to. Neither of you would climb up on the stage at a rock concert, but together you might. That's a powerful combination.

My first partner in this project is a good friend that I can trust. It is indeed like finding a lover. Takes forever, but is totally worth it in the long run.

Go brain picking!

Running Lean is an amazing book for this. Best thing is you can see exactly where you are with your business and what to do next - it's the best step-by-step guide I've ever found.

There's two kinds of interviews

Explorative (Scope expands). The first question should be "Here's our idea, tell us why it's going to fail". Best for situations where you've got an advisor in front of you with a bunch of startup experience. The idea is to brainstorm more ideas on how to approach the problem you are solving. Be aware that Explorative interviews will most likely approve your idea and make you feel like you should start building the product right away. Don't give in to this, validate before build!

Validative (Scope retracts). The first question should be "When is the last time you encountered X." Or for an even broader scope just ask "What are you wasting your time on in everyday life?" This is like homing in on your perfect client. You've got your theories about what your ideal client is like, now is time to check if your assumptions are true. It's mainly about what problems do you think people have and if they actually have them. Ask them what they did the last time they were facing the problem you're solving. Ask them what the experience was like. Keep looking for clues and don't fool yourself into believing your idea is great unless they are trying to give you money (which you can't accept since you're not a scammer). Make sure you don't tell them your idea, don't even ask them what they want. Ask them what they are already doing.

Make sure you write everything down, otherwise you may not get the chance to see the big picture. Just make sure you don't tell them what your idea is and try to see how close they are to a buyer by current action. Measure how they have acted so far, not what they would like to do.

Finishing thoughts

From these 2 days of meeting random people I would have never guessed how open people are once you say "we've got nothing to sell, just want to bounce some ideas for a startup we're thinking about". It's been an amazing journey, we've pivoted 7 times in these two days.

Do yourself a favor. Get a coffee whereever your target customer would hang out. Enjoy your coffee. Stand up, walk to any table and start a conversation.

Contact me if you're still stuck, I'll move you.