If you’re anything like me, forward progress on an idea can be difficult. Obtaining early feedback on your product idea is essential motivation. …And by early, I mean as soon as possible. Discussion about your idea can be the best way to get past a brick wall.
It’s obvious that the best way to get feedback on an idea for a product or service (or a new feature for your existing product or service) is to share it with people, but many people just don’t know how to do this. While it’s always best to solicit Feedback from the people who will actually (at least potentially) be using your product or service, it may not always be realistic to obtain valuable feedback from a large number of these individuals early on.
Your objective here is simply to test the waters with something as soon as possible; a litmus test, if you will. Depending on your audience, the feedback may not be the most detailed, technical, or objective in nature. However, the subjective reactions of those in your extended circle may be just enough motivation to help move your idea forward, make modifications, and test the waters again.
A minimum viable product is a great way to test a product or service with early adopters. However, an MVP traditionally requires the product actually be deployed for use by a small set of potential customers. This is a bit more than an early-stage idea may warrant. What I’m suggesting here is something between a back-of-the-napkin sketch and a full-fledged MVP. This was brilliantly demonstrated recently by Kevin Rose, a serial entrepreneur and venture partner at Google Ventures.
Several weeks ago, I noticed Kevin’s tweet soliciting feedback to a new idea for a blogging platform he’s calling “Tiny.” His call for help? Simply, “What do you think?”
I have a new web idea, here is a rough prototype, what do you think? http://t.co/UkOyEXy8hl— Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) December 15, 2013
There’s nothing fancy about it, but it works, and has likely generated tremendously valuable feedback for Kevin; perhaps so much so that six days after his initial tweet, he mentioned his desire to push forward with the project:
I think I’m going to hack on the Tiny project over the holiday break, no moving video, more soon :)— Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) December 21, 2013
With the help of two friends, Kevin was able to produce a simple video — pointed at his computer screen — walking through a simple HTML prototype of his product idea with a small number of talking points. The technical nature of this presentation is not the point here; you can do this type of demonstration in PowerPoint if you’d like. The formula, however, is simple: Kevin presents the problem statement, his idea, and solution for the problem. He then demonstrates the product in a simple prototype fashion while describing some minimal technical details of the could-be product.
“I’m not building this product right now, but I feel like there’s something to this, so I wanted to share with the world and get your feedback.”
That’s the point: to get feedback. It doesn’t even have to be valuable feedback. The value here is in your motivation to move forward. Personally, the more I talk about and share an idea with someone, the more excited I get about it, the more it becomes refined, and the more progress I make.
After all, that’s what it’s all about, right? Doing. …And the best way to practice doing is — you guessed it — by doing. As early as possible. Good luck!