What is early product validation and why do we need it?

The essence of this section is to validate that your product will be bought without building it yet. You might have to build a non-usable MVP, but in its core, your solution should be built within a few days. Thereafter, you should be able to assess how customers interact with your solutions.

This might help you to:

  • Find out whether your product is interesting for customers (not that they enjoy using it);
  • Find out which aspects of your product are most interesting to customers;
  • Test several different features of your products on their appeal to customers;
  • Test the appeal of your product to several different customer groups/markets;
    different versions of your products for different markets; 
  • Provide investors with hard data to get investment.

The simplest way to test this is generally by building a website that offers your service. Note that your product does not have to be digital for this. The website is only the distribution and marketing channel for you to reveal what your product does and allow the customer to buy. You could sell plants, apps, platforms, services, etc. 

The EWOR approach incorporates building a website for all B2C products. Not because a website is always the best way to sell and promote your product – it isn’t – but because building a website offers incredible analytics on how customers interact with your page. 

Hence, the approach for B2C products is to:

  1. Build a website (or several versions of it).
    1. Display your product;
    2. Explain your product;
    3. Convert customers to buy (🡪 which will get them on the pre-order list).
  2. Optional: Build a digital product version on Sketch or Proto.io to be displayed on your website.
  3. Install Google Analytics and Hotjar on your Website.
  4. Promote your website through your own posts, influencers, articles or paid ads.

After this section, for many products, you should already be able to approach pre-seed venture capitalists and angel investors. You can now convincingly approach investors and inform them that you have identified a clear customer need and a product addressing it. You can furthermore demonstrate hard data indicating that customers would actually buy your product if it would exist. You now only need the investors’ money to build your product with all the information you have now gathered and can surely guarantee that it will sell. You will not be able to guarantee that people will actually use your product. This will be done during later validation, but for early-stage investments this is rarely asked.

For B2B products, you’ll have to use a slightly different approach. A website alone will be crucial but not enough to convince an entire buying centre of your decision. Moreover, investors treat a B2B product differently. The most important thing for your validation will be to validate the value to the customer via a pilot program. Before you build your product, you can convince business customers to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI), which indicates their willingness to buy your product once it is finished. In order to get a business customer to sign an LOI with you, you’ll have to be able to demonstrate a clear match between the customer need and your solution to it. If your solution is expected to create value in some way, for instance by cutting costs, increasing speed, offering new revenue potential, collecting more data, offering more transparency, etc. you are likely to convince a business customer to comply.