How to validate your startup idea - Deepstash
Onboarding Matters

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Onboarding Matters

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How to know when an idea is promising

How to know when an idea is promising

There's no single right way to get started or build a business. Timing, luck, and grit often play an outsize role.

However, we can learn from how the best entrepreneurs went about building their companies.


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How to come up with an idea

How to come up with an idea

  1. Market first: Start with a market or space that you find interesting, then look for a specific problem.
  2. Experience ripe for improvement: Look for areas where you believe there should be a better consumer experience and iterate from there.
  3. Problem first: Start with a problem you’ve experienced firsthand, then find out if enough other people have the same problem. 


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Start with a market/space first and look for a problem

Start with a market/space first and look for a problem

If you have a market in mind, talk to people in that space to better understand their experiences and challenges. Look for a pain that is so bad that customers will try almost anything to solve it.

For example, Christina Cacioppo, CEO of Vanta, discovered that SOC2 - the way a company needs to prove its security competency, was a major pain point. While security consultants can offer help, people wanted an easier solution.


130 reads

Finding an idea

When you're at the idea stage, it's easy to throw ideas around and poke holes in them. Don't do this. All ideas are flawed, you're limited by what you know, and it's hard to get honest feedback when you're talking through hypotheticals.

Instead, get out into the market, have conversations, and test early models.


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Validating the idea

Validating the idea

First build a MVP (minimum viable product) to test with potential customers and validate that people want the product.

For Christina at Vantra, she knew they were onto something when people proactively reached out to ask about what she was building.


130 reads

Quick startup tips

  • Don’t rush into just starting a company—wait for the right thing to hit you personally, emotionally, and logically.
  • If it feels like you’re pulling teeth to find the pain point, you haven’t found a problem worth solving.
  • Be sure to validate the pain points for each persona you’re targeting.
  • Build prototypes and test your early ideas on real customers.
  • Don’t build a complete product until you’re feeling a real pull from the market. 
  • Figure out who you can sell to most easily, and start there.
  • Develop a product that unlocks revenue for your customers.


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Common traps to look out for

  • Asking the wrong questions. Ask people about their past and current actions and problems, not to predict their future behaviour.
  • Settling for a "nice to have" reaction from early customer discovery. Instead, search for a big problem and solution.
  • Not having enough conversations. You need to start new conversations until clear patterns and themes emerge.
  • Selling a vitamin, not a painkiller. Painkillers are a “need to have”. while vitamins are a “nice to have”. Classic painkiller products include Google search and Mailchimp. Vitamins include Google Glass and CNN+.


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What to do once you have validation

  • Take time to appreciate the small and large wins.
  • Document your metrics and share them with your investors and advisors.
  • Keep updating your roadmap and goals, so your team knows where to focus their efforts.
  • Carefully expand your team. Ensure to build to company culture you want while keeping an eye on your burn rate and cash reserves.


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