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Monday, February 13, 2006

Where to start market validation -leave some futuristics ideas for the future

Every Technology Enterprenuer goes this question sooner or later. We come with a grand idea, assuming we are making life easy for some constituency. When you start thinking about who could be your potential paying customer, the fun begins.

Pure consumer play sites are returning nowadays. I am glad the phase when enterprenuers were force-fitting a consumer idea to a corporate market for funding pitches are over :-))

Well, with Coola since the idea was about making information mobile between a web server/site to a Palm device it was very horizontal. I have written about my experience market validating with real customers to understand certain markets for certain type of datatypes.

I remember the days before that! We painted blue-sky scenarios of all possible market segments.

One interesting experience comes to mind. We thought! Hey, we could get coupons from web sites and allow users to take them in a palm instead of carrying coupons on paper and allow them to be scanned at the stores. That too, grocery stores seemed a natural as stop-and-shop etc were marketing for their cards to understand our purchase behaviour to give us appropriate coupons.

We actually downloaded a bar-code of a coupon on the palm using our software as a prototype and took it to the grocery store. Amist funny stares we got the lady at checkout to point the bar code reader at our palm screen (yeah really) and it read and gave us the discount.

Our dream was that one day we'll be able to collect bar codes from the stores and can send it to some web service to do comparison shopping for consumers, or track inventory or order parts for an enteprise. This was in end 1999, and even today this is open territory, waiting for an innovative company to execute, maybe it will take birth as local search.

Again, in the early stages, a company needs to focus, take one tiny step at a time and market validate what is the best place to start execution.

My subsequent attempts next week, to find coupon sites to partner with us or find favorable response from stores was not positive. All this was before our funding rounds. Our learning was that we needed an early adopter segment who would love technology innovations and grocery companies were not exactly in that category so we dropped it.

12 comments:

David Kaufman said...

Sudha,

This is a fantastic blog. I applaud your efforts to share, demystify, and teach others what it is like to start a business and be a true entrepreneur. Living with RISK is not something everyone can do.

I have been involved in running, joining, starting, or building 13 or 14 companies now --- the one on which I am currently working is an out of the laboratory spin-off from MIT and it is by far the most fun of any, most challenging, and potentially the most rewarding by far. The fall to the ground would be short and swift -but well worth the sights we see on the climb up the mountain. If you don't take the risk to climb it -- you will never see what the world looks like from the top of the mountain. I can only say one thing about I have learned about the climb -- it takes a village of Sherpas to make it possible. No one climbs Everest on their own (that I know of). Starting a business (other than one person massage table, or something really tiny) really takes a village as I have learned on this company. I can't tell you how important it is to continually share your idea with enthusiasm to everyone you meet, talk with on the phone, on airplanes, at restaurants, on buses, trains, gas stations, while shopping, and while in the doctor's office. Everyone knows someone who will help you and most people love to help out someone who is enthusiastic about what they are doing. You ooze energy and positive vibrations, everyone likes to be a part of that. (IF they don't you don't have to worry because they in a minority). Keep on truckin'! Good luck on your new card venture in India - it looks great Sudha.

Best regards,

David

Brian Soule said...

It's great to meet others with the same entrepreneurial spirit. Hope all goes well, I'll be checking back soon.

Brian Soule

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