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Why did your last business or product idea fail? Maybe you think it's because you didn't have enough money, a good enough team, or you lost favor with the money gods. You're wrong. I know exactly why it failed. It failed because you didn't validate it beforehand. That's it. You're welcome.
It's not because you're not a code ninja or a marketing guru or the next Steve Jobs, it's because you screwed up and didn't pre-validate it. You did everything right but your idea was awful and you didn't even know it. So stop picking bad ideas.
This Idea Validation course has taught 1200+ students to dodge bad business ideas like bullets in The Matrix. It's packed with 8 hours of a proven techniques used by the pros and guarded by the super-secret club of business people who are better than you.
At the end of this course you'll know the deepest, darkest secrets of business validation:
Why do you need the power of "business validation"? It should be obvious, but fine:
Nine out of ten new businesses are dead on arrival and deflate like a punctured moon bounce. Don't be a moon bounce.
Not for you? No problem.
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Certificate of completion.
|Section 1: Welcome to the course (12 minutes)|
Meet the instructor for your course!
An introduction to my background running a web agency and running 100's of real-life validation experiments.
Let's talk about the individual sections of the course and set expectations for what you are going to learn.
In this lecture, we'll talk about how you should follow along and the best way to get the most out of the course.
The more engaged you are, the more useful this course will be. Don't be shy, get used to reaching out for help or to talk about ideas.
"Getting your priorities straight" (Worksheet)
Section 1 Review Material
|Section 2: Establishing the problem (44 minutes)|
In this lecture we're going to cover the basics of how Lean Validation works. After this course you'll understand how to structure your ideas, how to position them for testing, and ultimately help you understand the process by which lean practitioners rapidly validate ideas. We'll also talk a little bit about the abstract value of "untested ideas" and how to improve them.
- What is a product hypothesis and how would I construct one?
- What's a pitch experiment, how do I set one up, and how do I now when it has failed or succeeded?
- What's a pivot and how does that work into this framework?
- How do I set my Minimum Criteria for Success? What should I mainly look for?
We'll cover the examples of both Costco (large US based retailer) and Facebook (the #1 social network) to help you grasp these definitions and apply your knowledge.
Theory-only is boring! In this lecture, we're going to create a hypothetical idea so we can follow along with a real-life idea. I'll show you how to implement the theory and techniques from each section.
Who's going to use your idea? Who benefits from it? Who has a problem that your idea solves?
In this lecture, we're going to tackle how to answer these questions through customer segmentation.
- How to identify the value your idea is delivering. How to identify potential problems your idea could be addressing
- How to define potential customer groups. How to identify the areas that divide them.
- How to identify key demographics for your target groups and determine which ones are relevant.
- How to build customer profiles when you have a two-sided marketplace idea.
At the end of the lecture, you'll understand how to build a rudimentary profile for your target market, how to rank them, and ultimately how to target them.
We'll go through the entire process of building customer profiles with our example idea.
Let's start testing our assumptions and getting real user feedback.
In this lecture, we're going to cover running Qualitative Assessments from potential customers. This is the first step in the road to validating your idea and the first time we introduce it to someone other than yourself.
Why is it called a "Qualitative assessment"? Well, because we are going to collect qualitative information. Soft info that can give us a positive feel for our idea before we spend more time on it.
- How do you find potential customers to run an assessment with?
- What are easy ways of getting people to agree to talk?
- How to frame your questions and get the crucial "problem based" feedback you need
- Who are the "innovators" and why do we want to target them?
This is the first step in testing your idea and the easiest way to get out there and getting a feel for it.
Three practice ideas (Worksheet)
|Quiz 1||9 questions|
Welcome to the first quiz of the course. The idea behind this is to make sure that you retain the core concepts we've covered in Section 2. Don't worry, the score doesn't matter and you'll infinite attempts to complete it.
We're going to cover the main concepts from this section. Do you understand the Idea Validation framework well enough? If I said I needed to make a pivot after my qualitative assessment proved my hypothesis wrong - what do I mean? Who are the "innovators"?
Have fun ;)
Section 2 Review Material
|Section 3: Scope out the competition (30 minutes)|
What's the easiest way of figuring out whether or not your idea is original?
In this lecture, we'll go over competition, how you should feel about it, and how you can sniff it out if it exists. Too often people do not properly search for competitors before launching their idea, and this severely limits their chance of success.
- How should you feel about competition, if it exists?
- How do you know if your competitors kill your idea or make it stronger?
- Using Google tools and tricks to cut through the noise of search results.
- How to use alternative search engines to find more competitors.
- How to think critically about where you are going to find your real competitors.
We'll run through these lectures with the example idea we're using.
We've found some competitors. Now let's start tearing them apart.
How do you tell if a competitor is a real threat or just a minor hiccup? In this lecture, we're going to talk about what qualifies your competitors as threats, what to look for in their websites, and how to take these analyses and use them to make your idea better.
The goal of this lecture is to give you the tools and priorities to evaluate your competitors. By the end you should have a decent idea of whether or not your competitors are worth being concerned about.
- How to compare your relative capabilities to your competitors'
- How to compare your idea's features to your competitors'
- How to sniff out your competitor's budget. Are they well-funded or still in someone's garage?
- How to stalk your competitors advertising efforts using SEMrush
- How to use keyword clusters to find even more competitors
- How to build a basic narrative of your competitor based off of articles and traffic stats
- How to use SimilarWeb to track your competitor's success in app stores
Finding competitors (Worksheet)
Section 3 Quiz - Competitors
Section 3 Review Material
|Section 4: Getting your first customer feedback (56 minutes)|
In this lecture, we're going to cover one of the coolest and least well-known sites around: the five-second test.
The concept is simple. You get five seconds to make a judgement about a design or idea. When constricted to such a short time frame, users have to give you their gut reaction and that's exactly what we want.
- How to use five-second test's system in an unorthodox way to get idea feedback.
- Easy ways to get your contest up and running in less than five minutes.
- How to gather feedback, what to ignore, and what to look for.
Sometimes a more robust option for user feedback is in order. Gathering unbiased information from potential users can be difficult; luckily there's a service that's designed for the task.
For those of you with a budget (or just interested in the information you receive) we're going to explore Proved.co and see what insights we get from their platform.
What's the cheapest and easiest way of getting feedback? Email!
Since everyone has an email address and presumably you're already invested into validating your idea, email validation is a logical place to start. It really is quite simple, yet it escapes so many entrepreneurs.
We're going to talk about all the ways you can get feedback from your own network, employees, and even by cold emailing target customers.
- How to tap into your own network and what to say
- What to expect from different groups
- How to use publicly available information to create a "hit list" for cold emailing
- How to increase the likelihood of getting your email read and responded to
- The number of responses that should leave you be satisfied
In this lecture we're going to cover online communities that are useful for receiving feedback. The internet has forums and groups for all different topics and reasons. With a little bit of skill (and sincerity), we can easily select a group that has the interests or experiences we need and poll them.
Exposing your idea to these specific groups is a free, easy way to get a group reaction and immediate feedback. However, if you want to get honest feedback and not invoke ire you need to tread carefully.
We'll cover how to word your idea and request for feedback in a way that comes off as the most non "spammy" and solicits the best feedback.
Resources: Free forums and groups to use for feedback
Recap your results (Worksheet)
Section 4 Quiz
Section 4 Review Material
|Section 5: Creating your pitch experiment (124 minutes)|
Let's get introduced to landing pages!
In this lecture, we're going to get acquainted with a site called Launchrock. What is Launchrock? Launchrock first started off as a free service for letting startups create pages that announced they had "launched" (hence the name). Now it offers quite a bit more, but as a fundamental service it still operates the same.
Why do we use Launchrock? Because Launchrock's setup is designed for simply announcing something. It's perfect for making a pitch experiment without spending too much time upfront. With Launchrock, we'll only display a couple sentences of text and insert images into pre-defined places. We're going to practice refining our message down to the bare minimum and test it on the fly.
- Getting set up with Launchrock
- Choosing templates that best fit your idea
- How to customize your page beyond the template. Adding sharing abilities, custom images, confirmation emails, custom domains, etc.
- How to determine what your "call to action" is going to be
Now that we've covered the bare minimum, it's time to upgrade to the marketer's favorite tool: Unbounce.
What is Unbounce? Unbounce is a platform built specifically for building out and rapidly modifying landing pages. With Unbounce we're going to open up a whole new world of functionality. We're going to go beyond testing one general pitch page at a time. We'll use richer templates, we'll test individual words against each in real-time, and we'll make multiple tweaks per iteration to really figure out what customers respond to.
In this lecture we're going to get acquainted with Unbounce and look at how we can tailor this system to meet our needs.
Making the Unbounce page fit your idea
Adding conversion goals and dynamic text
Setting up A/B tests for your Unbounce page
Adding a payment button to your page
Extra: Using a payment button in email
Extra: Using templates for extra wow
Extra: Getting a logo for free
Extra: Getting a better logo for $5
Extra: Getting domain names
Bad landing page analysis (Worksheet)
Section 5 Quiz
Section 5 Review Material
|Section 6: Testing your idea in the wild (39 minutes)|
RESOURCES: Further reading Facebook ads and "interest targeting"
Getting free coupons for Google, Facebook, Bing
RESOURCES: "Conversion scent" and how it can ruin your experiment
Section 6 Review Material
|Section 7: Evaluating results (18 minutes)|
Looking over the results
To repeat or not
Let me have your feedback
Note: "Launch Your Idea" had a name change. It's now called, "The Non-Technical Person's Guide to Building Products & Apps."
Section 7 Review Material
|Section 8: Follow along section - videoinabox.co (6 minutes)|
How this section works
The idea is bornPreview
Read me - About this section
Section 8 Review Material
Hi, I'm Evan Kimbrell. Thanks for checking out my course.
Currently, I'm the Founder and Director of Sprintkick, a full-service, referral-based digital agency based out of San Francisco. Over the past four years I've overseen the development and launch of over 100 web and mobile apps. Clients range from two-man bootstrapping startups to multibillion dollar Fortune 100s like Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, and GNC.
Prior to Sprintkick I worked as a VC for a new firm called Juvo Capital, based out of L.A. I spearheaded the firm's expansion into Silicon Valley and into the Consumer Web tech category.
In the long long ago, I was a co-founder for an educational software startup called ScholarPRO that raised a ton of money and then spectacularly blew up (in the bad way). Before it exploded like the Death Star, I went through five tech incubators (yes, five): Tech Stars, Excelerate Labs, MassChallenge, Babson Venture Program, and Sparkseed.
I'm an avid Airbnb host for the Fisherman's Wharf district of San Francisco. My space has the #1 search ranking for my area, has hosted over 200+ people, and is currently booking out 18 months in advance. I've helped multiple hosts get their properties listed and their prices per night maximized. Results range from an extra +50% in price for established hosts and +400% for brand new hosts.
Hope you enjoy my courses!