Validating a business idea

I have a habit of coming up with tons of ideas, put them up on a post-it and then …. Just let them lay there. I have sense last year started to follow-up on all ideas, and either kill them instantly or start validating them. What does it mean to validate an idea though? The academic definition is the following:


verb: validate; 3rd person present: validates; past tense: validated; past participle: validated; gerund or present participle: validating

  1. check or prove the validity or accuracy of. “all analytical methods should be validated in respect of accuracy”
  2. demonstrate or support the truth or value of. “acclaim was seen as a means of validating one’s existence”
  3. make or declare legally valid. “a wide range of professional bodies validate courses leading to these awards”

So basically, validating an idea means to do some checks to see how realistic and implementable it is.

Using my idea from 2021 as an example, TailSense, I booked meetings with key stakeholders at two insurance companies to see if there was a need, and if there was a willingness to pay for the solution – the basis of the discussion was the value proposition. Prior to these meetings, I had created a survey with end users to see that there was a need to use the platform, which lay the basis of the value proposition.

I mention two kind of stakeholders here:

  • The primary users that generate the value of your service and
  • The payers, in this case the insurance firms (in my initial scenario)

In a lot of cases, the users and payers are the same (this is usually the case when selling directly to consumers, i.e. B2C).

The meeting with the stakeholders helped me pivot the TailSense idea rather drastically – more in this in a future post regarding the re-launch of TailSense.

I will not go through a one-size-fits-all kind of framework for the validation of ideas – I usually find that kind of posts to be quite abstract and too far away from what I am trying to do. A few guidelines, before you run off and put too much time and money into an idea:

  • Test and execute instantly, don’t get stuck in the ideation phase or testing phase for too long. Create a version of your service that only consists of the bare minimum of functionalities to eb able to showcase and test it.
  • Talk to the people who will be using your service, and do this on a large scale and to the right segment. Your closest friends and colleagues do not really count in this context. Pay for a survey firm or telemarketing firm if you have to
  • Talk to the people who will be paying for your service. These could be the main users or other stakeholders. Will they pay for your product? Is that payment enough for you to breakeven on and make the margin you wish to achieve?
  • Do not be afraid to pivot, which means changing the direction of your idea. If you stakeholders do not wish to pay for your idea as it is, you either need to bury it or change it

Being an entrepreneur is awesome, and for those of us who love having several ideas live at the same time it is important to work systematically. Good luck! And get in touch if you want to bounce any ideas: