I often mentor early-stage start-ups on how to validate, test and pitch their ideas. I talk to almost everybody who contacts me even if I think their ideas sound like bullshit. I don’t know what really works and what doesn't, but I help the founders (often pre-start-up) with ways to validate their ideas without them having to build any real products.
A few weeks back, a friend of mine wrote to me and asked for feedback on an idea he was planning to turn into a start-up. We had a coffee and he pitched me the idea and told me that he had just come from a meeting with an app agency that was willing to build his awesome mobile app. All he had to do was to go home and do wireframes for the app and then find $30,000 to pay them for building the app.
We are talking about a man who has never created a wireframe, a man with an idea on a napkin that is in no way validated, a person with no clue if his napkin idea will ever be worth a single dollar. The agency sent him home with a “Awesome! This is how we do it. It will be a success. Just find $30,000 of your own money. It will be amazing.” What a bullshit way of sucking blood out of a private person to funnel into their business without even giving him any chance of success. Is an app even the right way to solve the problem he is attacking? Is his idea watertight? Does the audience even need what he is envisioning?
What if my friend could go to a company that helps people validate their ideas. He would pitch his idea and together they would work on validating it and shaping it into a MVP that they could use to prove a market fit (could be an app or could be something else).
I had to stop my friend after hearing the story about the app agency and asked him if he was feeling comfortable with betting his family's savings on his idea and the app agency. Whether he trusted his own gut feeling enough to bet everything on it without any proof that the concept would work. Of course, he said no.
I got him to tell me a little more about the idea and how he envisioned how people would use it. Together we quickly came up with a way we could build a working prototype of the core concepts of the idea in an hour and from that validate if the idea was worth investing more in.
I hate app agencies that think the answer to all problems is an app. I hate app agencies that suck blood out of poor entrepreneurs because they see easy money. I hate app agencies that do not treat their craftsmanship professionally.
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