Notes on Paul Campillo’s How to Validate Your Next Big Idea

(from Paul’s post on, link here)

Paul has organized the process of creating an MVP into 3 stages:

  1. Market validation
  2. Idea validation
  3. MVP validation

Paul thinks numbers 1 and 2 can be inverted, but both should be part of the overall process

Stage 1: Market validation

Don’t find your passion project first, since there might not be a market to monetize it

Find a problem you are passionate about and add in your unique knowledge, skills and interests

Find a market that’s willing to pay

  • Do some keyword research
    • Open a Google Adwords account and use their Keyword Planner tool, which will show you what terms people are searching for, how often they are searching, how much competition there is around the keyword etc
    • Go to to scrape search results. Enter your term and get a list of keywords
      • Under the search box, there’s a Questions tab that will show you what questions people are asking. Copy and paste into a spreadsheet
  • Use Amazon as a market research tool
    • Find popular products and read the 1-3 star reviews to see what improvements could be made
    • If it’s not on Amazon, there probably isn’t a large demand for it (excluding apps and services)
  • Run a deep-dive survey
    • Read Ryan Levesque’s book Ask.
    • Ryan thinks most market research focuses on the wrong questions
    • He suggests the most critical, revealing question is:
      • What’s your single biggest challenge/frustration with ____?
    • This allows folks taking the survey to focus on real life frustrations with the existing solutions rather than asking them to hypothetically guess at what solutions they might want—which isn’t likely to garner much useful information
    • Encourage people to provide as much detail as possible about their frustrations—you might find there’s a different, more pressing problem than the one you have already identified
    • This can also help you identify what language and words real people associate with the problem—helpful later when you promote your solution
    • Follow up the challenge question with a few simple A/B multiple choice questions to segment your audience and possibly uncover niche problems that you can offer more custom solutions for
      • For example, would someone use your app once a day or once a month? Very different usage scenarios and demands
      • Use these questions to segment people by level of interest, level of need, level of willingness to pay for a service or product etc

Stage 2: Idea validation

There are several different methods for validating ideas

  • One is to create a simple website offering your service/product and use ads (on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn for B2B etc) to drive traffic to the site
  • Another method is in-person validation
    • Check out Pat Flynn’s Will It Fly? for a good explantion of this method
    • While waiting in line for coffee etc, Pat offers to pay for the order of the person in line behind him in exchange for answering a couple of brief, focused questions about his service/product
    • Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint, used a similar approach at train stations.
      • While folks were waiting for their trains, Aaron showed them 1 of 3 paper prototypes to get feedback
      • He eventually realized the key to the Mint concept was informing potential customers that Mint had “bank-level data security”—he realized appeasing security concerns would be key to customers adopting Mint
  • You can also write and validate headlines, offers etc in the same way

Stage 3: MVP

Remember to start small with your MVP and use it to learn more about your problem matrix—don’t shoot for a mini version of your final product at this point

  • Also remember, your current solution probably isn’t right yet—don’t spend too much time perfecting its details. Create a quick prototype using Keynote, InVision, PowerPoint, even clickable Acrobat pdfs (a really easy solution most people don’t consider)—whatever software you can work rapidly in
  • Google just released a book about building prototypes in 5 days, Sprint by Jake Knapp
  • SeekPanda used for their prototype and used its calculator feature to present personalized prices based on user answers—and increased their conversion rates by a factor of 4x

Run ads on Google, Facebook etc to find language that potential customers really connect with—here’s a helpful guide

Get validation with a physical product

  • Demos in person are best, but can also be done via video
  • Post your product on social media to see what people really respond to
  • Open your product/service to beta users for free and use them to get real time responses and ultimately testimonials
  • Give away a small part/preview of your product for free to add value to customers’ experience before asking for money
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate!
  • As you work with real customers, ask them if they would buy from you again, what your competitors offer that’s different/better, how you can improve your product etc, to strengthen your product/market fit

About Paul (from LinkedIn): Writers influence and shape the world we live in from media to literature to marketing. Content and media everywhere has a crafty pen behind it.

I write to assist others in their journey, to help them smile, and to provoke them to action. I write for results.

When I’m not writing, I’m exploring the world, learning photography, creating a better society, and taking crash courses at the School of Ignorance 🙂


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