Validating your app idea by talking to your friends and family. That’s so easy. And so very wrong.
You see, your family and friends like you… (well, some of them we hope). They will be enthusiastic about your app idea for a couple of reasons, both of them completely useless for validation. First of all, they like you and they don’t want to disappoint you, so they’ll tell you it’s great. Sort of like when you brought those arts and crafts “treasures” you created as a child home and gave them to your mom or dad. I’m sure they were very proud and loudly proclaimed how beautiful they were. Probably even stuck them to the fridge.
But the truth is, very few of us were budding artists, and that stuff we made was mostly ugly crap. They still feel like they should be supportive, and so they’ll tell you what you want to hear, instead of giving you a dose of reality. And if you go ahead and build that app, I’m sure they’ll download it too. The 2 or 3 downloads you get…
Another reason they might be supportive of your app idea… again, because they like you, they might get caught up in your enthusiasm. If you are excited and tell a good story, maybe you can convince them it’s a great idea. But your enthusiasm doesn’t make it a great app idea.
Neither of those cases will get you a really good validation endorsement. What you need is to get real people, your app audience, who will actually need your app, to tell you if it’s a good or bad idea. Don’t go for the luke-warm response. You want the people who will say YES, I NEED THAT.
Ok, let’s get real here. “They” aren’t out there waiting to steal your app idea. The point of validating is to ensure you have product/market fit. If you never tell anyone about your idea, never get it out in public, you will never be certain that you aren’t wasting your valuable time and limited dollars building an app that no one will want. To nail down your product/market fit you have to actually talk to people about it. So no building things in secret.
Today, it’s easier than ever to validate. You can validate for free. At least, free in terms of having to pay for services. YOU still have to come up with your offer. With Github Pages you can publish web pages for free. There’s even a set of nice Jekyll themes to choose from. And collecting emails? You can start with Mailchimp, with up to 2000 subscribers for free. If you can stand up a “coming soon” page for your app concept and collect more than 2000 emails, you should definitely consider your concept validated.
Prime that Audience
Don’t launch to crickets (or just your dad).
As you collect emails, and you have a lot of people who are interested, then as you start designing and building your app, you can select from those people, and get them to help you. They can review your early design prototype. They can help you with your user stories. They can beta test your first versions. Getting people involved and invested will ensure that your audience is primed and ready when your v1.0 is ready to go.