Derek Ball

Validation in the Early Stages

TBOP2017 ⋅ 2:47 ⋅ Filmed May 12, 2017

So you’ve got a great idea. Awesome. What next? Do you get funding? Print business cards? Secure an office space? Seasoned entrepreneur and founder of atVenu Derek Ball explains what’s really vital to do after the ideation stage — to make sure you’re setting yourself, and your business, up for success. (Hint: it’s a little thing called validation.)

Further Reading

Minimum Viable Product


TC: You mentioned the fact this was not your first rodeo. That you've been involved in other things before. When you just now, talked about how you came up with the concept for this venture, it goes to the heart of what everybody in this project is doing and what people watching it are thinking about and that is, when you have an idea (like you did), you had to figure out how you move that along, how you scale up, how you make an idea into a real thing. You've got a lot of experience doing that. Have you got anything to pass along to these folks?

[00:38] DB: Well, one of things that I would say is that, everybody has ideas. And everybody has this ability to see things around that they think could be better. The entrepreneur, is the person that ceases that idea and chooses to do something about it. I think it’s really inspiring to see the teams here doing everything that they’re doing because they saw something they thought was broken that they wanted to address. They are pursuing that and seizing that.

[01:03] DB: It’s really a matter of not just having the idea but taking the steps towards making that idea real. The very earlier stages of that are validating it. You have this idea. It is really a good idea? How are you going to test that idea? I’m a big fan of what’s called the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). In fact, I test most of my idea without even building any products. We will fake it on some pieces paper, make a PowerPoint slide decks that look like they’re a product and go talk to customers. We got talk to people that need this problem solved and ask them, ‘would this solve your problem if we built it?’

[01:42] DB: Another thing that I'm a believer in for commercial projects, ones that are actually trying to become businesses is, people need to vote with their wallets. I’ve seen a lot of companies get started and say, 'well, we're going to give it away and hopefully get a whole bunch of people on our platform' but somebody, at the end of the day, has to pay for the salaries and the servers and everything else that [is] involved. So find something that not just solves a problem but if you want to be sustainable, find an economic model that's going to help you to actually accomplish your goals as well.

[02:12] DB: One of the things that's been great about hearing some of the teams here is, a lot of them are thinking about 'How do I not just rely on people giving me money?', 'How can I actually make my project self-sustaining so that it can generate it's own outcome'? So when you have an idea, validate it. Test it. And then figure out how it's going to stay alive no matter what.

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