Product Hunt (I’m here there, by the way), Quora, Facebook startup groups, and sprinkle in some Crunchbase and Google.
The last few weeks have kicked off a host of new incubator cohorts and in a series of sessions in which we’ve been involved, a critical but rarely addressed question was frequently asked: where online do founders validate ideas??
We do a lot of work with startups, hundreds, every year, through various programs such as our own. More, thousands of ideas emerge through that work, and in what we do for corporate innovation efforts. I shared this advice more times than I can count but it dawned on me that I’d never written it down nor shared as a resource, a guide to where to turn, online, to get the earliest of feedback about new ideas.
- Start with Product Hunt. I rarely find a new idea that hasn’t already been explored and shared there.
- Granted, there are industries that really don’t make their way to Product Hunt, it’s ideal if you’re venturing in SaaS, apps, or online related work.
- Search for the themes, words, and concepts related to what you’re thinking and explore what springs forth from other founders.
- Next, ASK. And the best places to do that (I don’t care what your favored new social thing is), are Quora and Facebook.
- Ask questions related to your idea.
- About the history of the industry
- Ask about competitors
- Investigate what strengths and weaknesses of failed attempts
- Query if there are companies or investors interested
- Turn to related and specific Spaces on Quora to reach more relevant audiences. I run Startups there, for example, that’s a great place to reach startup savvy people. If you’re working in the same industry as that in which we find ourselves, you could turn to the MediaTech Space, where we have thousands of peers.
- On Facebook, do the same, look for Groups where related people can be found. We built Texas Startups so join us there, or in the countless other regional startup communities, from Arizona or Chicago to India or Zimbabwe.
- Ask questions related to your idea.
- Now search. Query the hell out of Crunchbase and Google Google googolplex times to find every conceivable competitor, article, person, or past, related to what you’re thinking.
Your goal, in startup ideation, is NOT validation!!
Let me repeat that and bold it because there are WAY too many “advisors” and programs suggesting that if you have traction and validation with an idea, that it must be worthwhile.
Your goal in startup ideation is NOT validation
When overwhelmingly most ideas fail (90% of startups fail and disappear completely), your odds of finding success are better betting at a casino in Vegas.
Your goal is to eliminate all the bad ideas, wrong direction, known mistakes, and to uncover the weaknesses and threats (competitors) in what you’re doing so that you don’t waste your time on an idea that will fail.
Success isn’t luck nor timing, that b.s. that people spin to help justify how some people get so incredibly successful. Success is a result of pragmatism, tenacity, a great team, and a diligence and commitment to pivoting and sticking with a mission and vision, so that you keep evolving through ideas as you optimize and iterate what works.
Being a startup founder is among the hardest things in the world you can do. It’s probably the most dangerous job in the world, mentally and financially. And the last thing you want to do, because it’s just insane to proceed this way, is start and invest your time and resources in something merely because some people have affirmed it.
You are still most likely to fail. Having some agreement and support doesn’t prevent that.
The only thing that prevents failing is that you eliminate what’s wrong BEFORE you run out of resources, patience, or mental capacity, to keep going.
So, ideation: talk, ask, and query as much as you possibly can, to learn what not to do.
I’m so unwaveringly certain about this, that we’re actually building all that, to help entrepreneurs in a certain sector: media. While Facebook, Quora, Google, and Crunchbase, are the best overall resources available, they’re also generic and not completely comprehensive of everything, nor with the depth of specifics in every industry. So ask too, where else can you turn in your industry?? If you’re working in FinTech, find the best community for THAT. If you’re in CPG, turn there. We’re focused on media innovation so in that regard, in that case, ideate within a community like ours, a place where you can find industry specific professionals, other founders, and mentors, who know best a bit about what you’re thinking. Good luck!