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Monday, July 18, 2011

Validating your idea

Last week a guy added me in Facebook because he said we have similar interest in startup and found my blog (the one you're reading now) quite amusing.

I usually only approve cute chicks and people I know—because in my experience random guys who added me happen to be gay and they thought I am too (I am NOT). Since he introduced himself (and his intent), I'm more than happy to approve his friend request. He happen to be a smart person, and has a female wife :)

We exchanged messages, and I thought one of my replies worth to post in blog, so I asked his permission and he agreed, so here it goes:

Hi bro, thanks for your length reply. I think you should stop reading and start jumping to action. In startup, first-hand experience is much more useful.

The simplest is to create a landing page to validate your idea. If it doesn't get satisfactory traction (i.e. low signups), either the idea sucks or the landing page needs refining.

It might hurt to know the truth (since your idea is most likely your ambition), but it will save you the time from building product nobody wants and you can move on to another idea.

A couple days ago I read Ash Maurya's Running Lean which mentioned Eric Ries' Lean Startup. I didn't finish the reading, but it made me realize that I've been taking the wrong approach.

I've been spending too long developing the product and also sidetracked by "research", but nothing towards validating my idea early. I'm afraid that when my product has complete, it doesn't get the traction I expected, and I will feel demotivated. I've been in this situation.

But there's a lie within landing page approach: Sometimes the traction doesn't translate to actual product usage. It might be because the product is "less interesting" than what you promise in the landing page, or the product launched too late (the guy who subscribed already forget who you are and what you do), or any other reasons. Just be prepared with this.

So, to answer your question on how am I doing with my journey, now I'm doing "temporary pivot". I'm focusing on building a landing page.

My co-founder is currently in Jakarta for his first baby born and also to pitch to some VC. My project with him requires significant capital and network investment, so it's essential to raise some money (and make friends).

As for my other project, Neytap, now I'm thinking on how to solve the chicken-and-egg problem. As you know it's a classifieds for room rentals, a marketplace of buyers (tenants) and sellers (landlords). I need to figure out how to grow both sides in balance. Do you have suggestion?

Anyway, regarding US as your target market, I think you're right, aim the ones you're most familiar with. But isn't US already saturated?

I'm so happy to meet like-minded people :)



3 comments:

  1. hey thomas, just checking out from twitter. Cool to see you working on new projects! I'm also trying to do the lean startup-way, but it's quite challenging to get people to talk to you I found :-)

    Anyways, good luck with the chicken-and-egg problem it's a hard one hehe. I've never tried anything like that but from what I've read it's best if your app has value even with 0 users. Easier said than done, I know.

    Still, I think you should pitch the landlords first. I feel for a housing website, offer is more important than demand. That is, people are not going to come to an empty site, but you can tell landlords you're working on the promotion of your site and user base is starting up. You should make it free for landlords to post at the beginning at least, that way it should be a no brainer. Another way would be to scrape data from existing websites, but I don't know if there are existing websites in your case :-)

    For inspiration you can look at http://www.nakedapartments.com/, I love the site (it's not gay, only the title). Looking at american websites to see how they're doing and adapt it to our local markets is something I believe in.

    Man, are you doing it for Jakarta? I think we discussed about it together in KL no? I remember when being in Jakarta I was impressed by the no-man's land of classified website. A very good market to get into IMHO!

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  2. Hey Tommy, thanks for your suggestion! Yes it is indeed the project I told you last time :)

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