A couple of weeks ago, a good friend in tech referred to me a coworker that had an “revolutionary” startup idea.
“It’s Uber for X…It’s going to be massive. I just need someone to build it! Can you help me find a developer?”
I have conversations that start like this on the regular. Here’s what I sent him. Hopefully if you’re considering spending significant resources (time and money) on bringing an app to life, this will help you.
For startup ideas, we typically recommend doing as much customer discovery as possible. Customer discovery is the learning process of talking with potential customers about their pain points / problems in an effort to validate or invalidate your assumptions about your idea. This should be done before any code is written.
From these customer discovery interviews you’ll learn if you’re assumptions about the business are true or false and if a real business can be built. Your goal is to de-risk the idea as much as possible – starting with the riskiest assumptions first. Customer discovery is time consuming and hard work, but it’s infinitely better than the alternative – spending years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars building an app that nobody wants.
I’d recommend mapping out your business on a business model canvas. The business model canvas will help you think through the entire business model and key actions including:
- Defining the problem clearly
- Understanding the market and its overall size
- Determining your target customer
- Outlining your business model – how you will create value and capture a portion of that value
Only after you better understand your potential customers based on interviews, would I spend time and/or money building an app/finding a developer. If your goal is to find a technical co-founder, then it’s your findings from customer discovery (unique insights) that will be your currency to convince a developer to join you in your quest and to work for equity.
Looking for more resources on Customer Discovery? I teach a multi-week Customer Discovery course twice a year at Atlanta Tech Village that’s open to everyone. As for books, I’d suggest reading The Mom Test, Lean Canvas, everything Steve Blank (the godfather of discovery), and Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.