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The idea validation or test card is a tool to keep track of hypotheses you have, design experiments to test those hypotheses and run the tests. This will help you to base decisions not just on believes and assumptions but on actual data.
Idea validation could be misunderstood here because whenever you go out to conduct tests and experiments for your idea, it is crucial that you don't just try to prove your hypothesis! Instead, also try to disprove your believes so that you can be sure that it's not just your own assumptions. It is thus not just about seeing whether your own idea is correct.
There are two key reasons why you need to go out and validate your idea:
Don't fall in love with your idea!
You have probably heard that sentence before: don't fall in love with your idea. Yet, it happens rather quickly with us realizing what is going on. We often love our ideas and think they are amazing but that is exactly why we do tests and experiments.
Instead of being passionate about an idea, try to be passionate about a problem! If you find a real problem that you want to solve it doesn't matter how you solve it and you are way more open to feedback and new ideas.
It is not enough to go out and simply look for a Yes/No answer. It's not about "Is the idea good or is it bad". Rather, you should go out with curiosity to find out more about the potential problem and about how it could be solved. Go out with certain hypothesis and define clear rules to overcome bias.
Now the template (download below) can help you to bring more structure into your idea validation.
This hypothesis should represent something that you believe to be true about the problem, the market or the solution. It could for example have such a structure:
"I believe [target market] will [do this action / use this solution] for [this reason]." or "I believe [this problem] for [this target market] is caused by [this]."
Explain in on sentence how you want to test the hypothesis. You could for example test ideas by talking to people from your target group, by trying ads on google or by building some prototype.
Define clearly how you will measure your experiment to prove or disprove your hypothesis. For example that you want to talk to X amount of people.
What is the exact outcome that needs to be there to prove or disprove the hypothesis? For this part, it is very helpful if you set yourself measurable goals. E.g. if more than 10 of the interviewed people say X then the hypothesis is proven.
Really Good Pro Tip: Before rushing into an experiment, write all kinds of hypothesis into different test cards and then prioritize them
Before you actually go out to conduct experiments, do this exercise for all the hypotheses you have and consider having several experiments and test cards for the same hypothesis, to increase reliability of the tests.
Prioritize your test cards and start with the experiments that are easy to implement and costs little (don't invest a lot early because easy tests might already lead you into new directions)
Go out there and conduct your experiments and use learning cards for each experiment to record your learnings
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“Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.” Eric Ries