Validation of a startup idea is one of the first things to be done for a successful startup. App Virality, a startup in MS Accelerator 4th batch provided a detailed account on how they validated their idea on their blog. Reproducing it here for the benefit of our readers, read on!
App Virality is a growth hacking toolkit for mobile apps. It allows mobile app businesses to enable/disable/configure any kind of growth hack within seconds. We got this idea while we were working on our other product Giveaway.ly, where we got huge number of requests from mobile focused companies asking how Giveaway.ly can help them increase number of social mentions, app downloads and in-app purchases. Even we were not sure how it can help, that’s when we started exploring possibilities and realized that there is a huge opportunity inside the question. Enabling them to run giveaways inside the app doesn’t solve the complete problem. It just solves a small piece of the pie.
Then we spent good amount of time trying to understand the different ways/tricks these companies use to increase number of downloads or purchases. Soon we realized that most of them just rely on ad networks. There are very few companies who try to leverage their existing customer base to grow the business i.e. growth hacking.
It’s not that other businesses don’t know about growth hacking, they do, but either they don’t have enough time and resources to build hacks on their own or they are not sure which hack might work for their app at that particular stage. And yes, when we interacted, most of them said they have three to four different hack ideas in pipeline from long time.
There are many popular and proven growth hacks ranging from popular Dropbox growth hack to Hotmail’s. But nobody knows which might work best at each stage of the business. Hacks change time to time along with your business. At the end it’s a pain to build analytics engine to track and analyze results to figure what’s working best.
So, now we realized what’s the exact problem that needs to be solved. Problem is not that they are struggling for downloads or spending money on ad networks.
- Problem is that they are not implementing any kind of growth hacks though they know how important it is
- Problem is that they are not sure of which hack might work well for them at each stage of business. So they can’t afford to go for trial and error game, since it takes lot of time and money to build.
So, now we got some clarity. They needed a solution, which can save their time and help them find the right growth hack for their business.
Clearly the only solution could be App Virality, which allows app developers to enable/disable/configure any kind of growth hack at any point of time without having to code any further.
Here is How We Validated It
We made a simple landing page live using a WordPress theme giving some clue about solution and its features. And started approaching as many people as possible in the eco-system asking for their opinion and feedback. Initially we did it the wrong way by asking what would they think of a solution like this. The simple answer from everybody was it’s a good idea. That’s it, which isn’t a genuine feedback at all.
Meanwhile we got selected into Microsoft Accelerator Batch 4. As part of Customer Development week at MS Accelerator, we reiterated the process in a more professional way and reached out to 140+ mobile focused companies and managed to collect 100+ genuine feedback and 40+ customers who showed interest to try App Virality.
Here is how we managed to do it right:
- I personally installed their apps on my devices and explored each and every feature and screen of it
- Figured out whether they are already implementing any kind of hacks or not
- If implementing, I casually asked them the performance of it
- If not, I proposed them a growth hack and asked whether they would be interested in trying it or not
Most of the times I heard they were aware of the hack, but they didn’t implement it because of limited time and resources. Which clearly shows the opportunity, you don’t really need to ask them directly about your solution. And never ever ask them if they would be interested in using your solution. Instead make them ask more about your solution, release date and pricing.
Alongside we also tried Google AdWords and Facebook with a total budget of $250. We managed to collect around 40 leads this way and we also reached out to them asking what made them to register on our landing page.
This month we got around 50 leads from Microsoft Accelerators PR, where all the topline media houses covered the batch 4 announcement.
Here Is How We Reached Out To All These Prospects
Surprisingly I am already connected with most of these people through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. For the rest I used references.
I personally realized the importance of networking with this exercise. All the connections we built through years helped us a lot. It just took 48hrs to reach out to all these prospects, which otherwise would take not less than a week.
How To Start?
Ask what are the problems they are facing. Don’t ask whether they would use your product or not.
Let them ask you more about the idea, how you do it, when you are going to release it, pricing, etc
Coming to our solution, there is a clear need in the market for this kind of solution. How we build and distribute matters the most in this case.
Let’s hope for the best.
Hope this experience helps you validate your idea.