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How to validate your startup idea at SWKhartoum

The best idea won’t win Startup Weekend so forget about your idea. Instead, focus on the problem that your idea is trying to solve. Focus on validating your idea with actual customers. Fall in love with the problem, not your idea! Brilliant startup ideas solve a pre-existing problem so don’t even think about putting an MVP together until you’ve defined exactly what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. Then go find your potential customers and test your assumptions. Is solving the problem going to create enough value that somebody will pay you money for it? There’s only one way to figure out whether or not customers will love what you’re doing: sales. Sales are the only true metric that you’re solving a problem that customers really have. It’s the only true validation.

If you can get a customer to pay for your product then it’s likely you’ll win the inaugural Startup Weekend Khartoum.

Define your potential customer

You need to niche down on your customer as far as you can. Think about the demographics, the psycographics, their purchase intent. The tighter you niche down on your potential customer the easier phase two will be. After the introductions and exchange of pleasantries on Thursday night, your first task should be to answer these 4 questions;

a) Who is our customer?

b) What is their problem / need?

c) What is our solution (idea)?

d) How feasible is it?

Find customers, get feedback

Now you know who your customer is, go find them! You need to survey your market. You need to get feedback and you need to test your assumptions with actual people that might use your product. There are plenty of online survey options Floq, Survey MonkeyType Form, Google Forms but you might not get the critical mass of survey responses using just online tools over the weekend. Sure you can push out a survey to your social network (Facebook friends, Twitter followers etc) or even do a PPC campaign to get survey traffic if you want to. But you should be aiming for a minimum of 100 survey responses. The more research data you have, the tighter the validation and the more impressive you’ll be in the eyes of the judges.

Go outside, find more customers

Startup Weekend won’t be won by the team that stays in front of a computer the longest. Startup Weekend will be won by the team that gets in front of the most customers. Don’t stay inside the venue and hide behind your computer all day. Go outside. Go to Afra Mall, Al Waha Mall or the Airport or the Mosque. Go where ever you think your potential customers might be. Go find them and interview them. Ask them directly;

“Do you have a problem with….?”

“Would you pay me money if I solved this problem for you?”

That’s a rudimentary example, you’ll need to go into more depth in your customer surveys but that’s the crux of. It will feel uncomfortable. You’ll need to go outside of your comfort zone but you’ll do whatever it takes to win yeah?

Some interviewing tips: Props help, get the right equipment. Procure a clipboard, survey copies and a pen or a use tablet computer to capture your survey results. Stay focused. Hustle.

Analyse the results

What is the market telling you? Do they actually want what you’re proposing? Were your assumptions valid?  Is there anything you’ve overlooked? Do you need to pivot and change your startup idea or do you persist? Will people pay you actual real money for the solution you’re providing? Validation doesn’t mean there are potential customers merely telling you that they love your product and that they might buy it. Validation means that you will have customers paying you actual real money for your solution. Everything else is just a waste of time and is not equal to validating your idea. Get money in the bank, cash in your hand. Building your product together with a few early adopters is also not a validation of your idea. It’s just a few people willing to use your product. Nothing more, nothing less. It won’t help you when you try to find new customers and most importantly it won’t help you to find investors. Do you persist? Do you pivot?

 Other Validation hacks

Set up a crowd funding page on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo and test your idea with the market. Try to attract actual real paying customers. It won’t cost you any money but it will give you valuable feedback on your product hypothesis.

Make an MVP landing page on Launchrock and capture email interest. Organic signups are a great indicator of market approval.


At the end of day, your product’s hypothesis should take this form:

We believe that

[building this product]

[for these people]

will achieve [this outcome].

We will know we are successful when we see [this signal from the market].

(The Floq app was a Startup Weekend idea from SWPerth 2012).

(Launchrock was a Startup Weekend idea from SWPhiladelphia 2011).

and don’t forget the hot sauce…

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