Wesley Chang

December 20, 2016

Launching a Hardware Startup: Getting Your Product Validated

Launching Hardware Product

Hardware startups sometimes overlook getting their product validated

Unfortunately, hardware startups are sometimes doomed for failure without the proper validated learning processes put into place.

That’s one reason why we’re so passionate about lean hardware.

For the most part, the purpose of lean hardware is to maximize learning by gathering feedback from your customers, backers, or investors through a series of processes.

The only problem with gathering feedback is not a lot of people really know where to start.

Among the hundreds of questions that an average aspiring entrepreneur would have, we’re often asked, “How do we ask hundreds of customers for feedback?”

The good news is that there’s a plethora of ways that you can gather feedback.

On the flip side, not all of them will work for every single idea or product.

But here are some of the most effective.

Let’s start with my favorite method, the interview.

Getting Your Product Validated via Customer Interviews

Getting your product validated via customer interview

Getting your product validated by talking directly to your customers, in person, is arguably the most efficient way to do so.

By interviewing your customers, you can schedule a meetup, or a simple gathering and just go around the room asking questions and listening for answers.

Not only would you be able to identify essential information about how your product is doing in the hands of real people, but you’ll be able to identify how your customer thinks, how they behave, and most importantly, what problem they’re trying to solve with your product.

A beautifully branded and well established startup accelerator in the Netherlands called Blue Whale Ventures–that has dedicated their company to helping startups build products and services that customers actually want–published an article about interviewing customers directly.

In the article title, “The Art of Customer Interviews,” the author Maarten Van Kroonenburg said,

“Customer interviews help you find a relevant problem that your customer experiences, by asking about past behaviour. You will learn how your customer thinks, what characterises them and why they have a specific problem. You will learn how they try to solve that problem themselves at the moment.”

Other than the absolute critical knowledge that you gain from these interviews, you also save yourself time and money by not only interviewing multiple people at once, but by developing a product that people actually want and value.

Getting Your Product Validated via Landing Page

Setting up landing pages for your hardware product is one of the cheapest ways to validate it.

There’s no soldering, drilling, or bolting with developing a website.

However, there is some technical aspects to it. But for the most part, it can be done by anyone.

Anyway, landing pages are a super effective way to get your idea in front of hundreds or even thousands of people at once.

Combine that with effective copywriting, and a beautiful, high converting design, and you may even find yourself hundreds of people who have subscribed to your email list (which every business should have).

The complicated part about landing pages (in my opinion), is measuring success.

If you’re in software, then maybe you’ve set up a KPI for when a user subscribes after going to an in depth form process.

If you’re in hardware, you might measure success by calculating the number of people who subscribed by using the form with the headline, “Notify me when the product is released.”

Regardless of how successful your landing page was at converting, once you gather up some quality sign ups, you’re able to reach out to them and gather information in regard to your product.

In fact, the CEO of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne didn’t measure the success of his very first landing page by counting the number of sign ups.

Back in 2013, he wrote an article on Medium called, “How to successfully validate your idea with a Landing Page MVP.

In that article he stated,

“I didn’t get “a billion signups”, in fact in a long 7 week period I only got 120 signups. But I spoke with a lot of those people during that time, and 50 of them started using the product when I launched after that 7 week period. 1 started paying for Buffer 3 days after we launched. Then a few weeks later, another person started paying. Since then we’ve continued to grow. The landing page — and more importantly the conversations resulting from people signing up through it — proved to be great validation.”

Of course there’s drawbacks to validating via website.

The main drawback is the fact that there isn’t in-person interaction, and because of that, you aren’t able to communicate a message as efficiently.

Validate Before You Launch

The whole purpose of getting your product validated is so that you can identify how well it does in a segment of your intended market.

With that being said, it’s quite wise to always validate before you launch any sort of product.

You’ll have the opportunity to solve problems that you didn’t even know existed, understand more about your customers, and learn how to talk to them.

All of which are extremely valuable.

Once your product has been perfected (or close), launch a prototype to a group of beta testers.

After all, you put yourself through the paces and got your product validated.

Take another step forward and get a functional prototype up and running!

 

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