How Entrepreneurs Can Vet New Ideas

This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog. 

So your team has conceived the next great startup idea and you’re prepared go all-in with time and resources to make it a reality. Not so fast, experts say. The idea needs to first be vetted in a smart and systematic way.

“A lot of people have an idea for an app and they’re so entranced by their idea they don’t actually think about who is the customer and if it’s something they want,” says Wendy Overton, director of programs at NexusLA, which works to leverage regional collaboration to connect growth-focused companies to capital, resources and diverse talent.

Overton says taking an idea to market, whether it’s in the tech industry or more analog pursuits, takes more than just a good idea. It also requires having an idea that fits with customers’ actual needs and wants — typically defined as product-market fit — as well as a business model case to support the idea. “If those things aren’t all there, it can be a great idea but it’s not feasible,” she says.

These three vital methods can help you test your business idea and set your startup up for success.

Talk to potential customers

Overton suggests startups take a cue from the writings of Steve Blank, a California-based entrepreneur and researcher who helped usher in the Lean Startup movement by encouraging early-stage companies to get feedback from potential customers during the development process.

She says Blank was among the first to understand that many successful startups don’t merely build their big idea anonymously, then launch their business to adoring customers. Instead there are plenty of exchanges with customers along the way.

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