I am a big fan this whole “minimum viable product” philosophy. I’ve probably adapted it to my own interpretation, but basically I look at it as bootstrapping on crack, get your product out with the minimum feasible offering to start seeing traction. I am trying to be as resourceful as possible with this startup. Using existing technologies, free services, API’s etc. to help build the service and get launched as quickly as possible.
The first place I started was when I had my ‘epiphany’ (that’s what I call the latest idea). I knew that I needed to find out if this was even a viable idea. Asking friends and family is great, but let’s face it, they already love you, they’re your friends/family.
So I decided my step was to get a survey up about the idea and find out what people think, (I think this qualifies as a first step in the MVP Philosophy).
So I did just that, with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system. I spent $27.50 and surveyed 200 people. There is NO segmentation in this system so I got feedback from anyone, which is exactly what I wanted. (well I wanted feedback from people that have access to the internet since this is a web startup).
I wanted to see how many users from the “general” population that has access to the web would find this service useful. I also wanted to see how this broke down by Age/Gender as well as ways in which they could see using the service.
Here’s what I asked in my survey:
I gave a brief description of what the website/service offering would be then asked the users:
- Would they use the service as described above
- Give me 3 examples of how they would use the service.
- General feedback or ideas on the service, why they would or would not use it.
The information I got back for my $27.50 was INVALUABLE. I found from that 1 survey, how to basically build my product for launch. What features I had to have based on how users would use the service. I also realized I could basically cut my current feature set in 1/2 because what I thought people would want, wasn’t even mentioned.
- I found out that 73% of the people surveyed would use my service (that validated the idea for me).
- Then found that of the 27% that wouldn’t use the service, WHY they wouldn’t use the service, then I added those common “no” reasons into my MVP product for launch, in hopes that I could convert even more.
- I also found out to my surprise that more men than women said they’d use the service. I fully expected it to be the other way around.
It’s pretty easy to create a survey using the Turk System. But I highly recommend doing some surveys or trying it out with small “batches” first so that you can figure out how to use the system before processing 200 questions.
Bottom line is, this was a great way to just throw out the idea, get validation and see what people had to say. This also helped fine tune my spec document for product build based on actual feedback on the product idea/concept.