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What are the best ways to collect consumer feedback about a new idea?

In your experience, what are the best ways to collect consumer feedback about a new idea that you're considering? How do you balance telling the world your idea versus waiting until you have wireframes or an MVP to show more details?

My thought process right now:
  • "Just had idea" stage - Asking around 50 close friends and family members for feedback about whether they'd use this product. Emphasize to them that negative feedback is just as important as positive feedback. More private about the idea, but very willing to stop a stranger in a store and ask them about the idea as well.
  • "Wireframe" stage - Asking a more random set of people across our target demographic. More open about the idea, willing to share it with lots of people to get feedback about the UX/UI design. Emphasis on getting the idea right so we don't get the software wrong.
  • "MVP" or "Polishing" stage - Inviting users to start using the alpha version of the product. Very open about the idea, willing to show it to the world.
  • "Polished" stage - Open beta to the general public. Very open about the idea, willing to show it to the world.
Thanks for your thoughts!

15 Replies

Blake Garrett
6
0
Blake Garrett Entrepreneur
Founder and CEO at Aceable
I've found that talking to people about your ideas isn't nearly as important as talking to people about the problem you are solving. Talk to 50 people about the pain and I can (almost) guarantee that your idea will be different - and better in the end. Just my two cents based on countless numbers of failed and successful ideas.
Ezra Goldman
2
0
Ezra Goldman Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO at Upshift
Yes, I'd agree with Blake on that. You'll have to start with getting a deep understanding of the problem you are solving. But once you feel you understand the problem, you'll have to go back to people and ask if your solution solves their problem. Bear in mind that you probably won't solve *everyone's* problem, so pick your customers rather than trying to serve everyone's needs to start. Stay laser focused on solving one problem really well at the outset. But make sure you really understand that problem, never start with the solution and look for a problem that it solves.
Michael Brill
4
0
Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
I think probably 50% of this group is where you are +/- a few months. I agree with Blake that talking about problems is super-important... read anything on lean customer development and I think you'll find good advice on how to balance sharing and listening in interviews.

To your specific question, here's my feeling: nobody is going to steal your idea. Anyone who would conceivably do that already has 10 "better" ideas they're working on... and nobody is going to think about the problem domain and solution set the way you will. The more you share, the more you learn.

Brian Burns
0
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Brian Burns Entrepreneur
VP, Mobility at Jobble
My approach was to talk about the idea with friends, family, and some colleagues.

Then I hard coded the UI via Titanium (cross-platform framework for mobile apps). I showed that around a bit. The feedback was all good so I moved onto the functional prototype. Now I am ready to pitch it to the industry leaders I will need to partner with. At this point the UX is pretty much done. The UI will probably need to be tweekedbased on what industry leaders feedback is.

On a similar note, I am very curious about what people think of the early stages of an idea.

Example: I have a prototype app on my phone. I am at a networking meeting looking for; feedback on my idea, people who might be interested in working on the project, and business advice on how to proceed.

I can't walk around with a stack of NDA's askingpeople to sign it before a show them my prototype. What I have been doing so far isto get a personal feel for the person before I show them. I am a pretty good judge of character but I realize I could get it wrong.

The other thing I remind myself to keep from getting too paranoid is that it is a complex app and would take some substantial resources for someone to develop. Plus they don't know all of the other ideas I have to evolve the app over time.

Regards :)


Jason Silver
4
0
Jason Silver Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur & Co-Founder
On your first point, my opinion is to not worry so much about someone stealing your idea. Idea's are a dime a dozen, it's the ability (and desire) to execute that will set you apart. In just the early idea phase I like to get as much feedback as possible. It's at risk of getting "stolen" but as per Blake's point above, by the time you finish getting your feedback you won't even be working on the same idea you started with. Focus on identifying the problem that needs solving first...

In terms of who you are getting feedback from, a word of caution. People (especially friends and family) will have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear. Telling someone that negative feedback is helpful for you rarely results in them being ok with the thought of potentially hurting your feelings. If they aren't entrepreneurs, they may not recognize the value of "bad news". I find sometimes it can help to bring the concept up as if it is an idea that you've heard about or as if it were a friend's idea. I know it sounds a bit silly, but I've found people are much more honest and willing to tell you what they really think when they don't have to worry about how their opinion might make you feel.

Good luck!!
Clynton Caines
2
0
Clynton Caines Entrepreneur
SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies
Keep in mind that as you go through the stages, the competitive landscape will change. Sometimes what used to be painful is now acute (ex: startups/services shuttered), or maybe it subsided (ex: new startups/services solved the problem - at least enough). As a result, expect that your target audience/market might need to change...
John Wallace
0
0
John Wallace Entrepreneur
President at Apps Incorporated
It depends on how much I know about the needs of the customer. The less I understand the need, the earlier I have to talk about it so that ideas can form and I can get started down the right path. But if it's an area that I'm knowledgable about then I prefer to wait until at least the alpha stage when I have a working UI to show them. Feedback about a idea or wireframe isn't nearly as helpful as feedback about an alpha that people can touch and experience, and yet it's early enough that I'm probably only 20% of the way through the cost of building the solution and features aren't yet locked in stone.
Luis De Avila
0
0
Luis De Avila Entrepreneur
Owner/Fullstack Architect at IdeaNerd LLC
Best way to collect customer feedback? - 1) I talked to a few individuals who would be my target customers. 2) I used a targeted survey to collect customer feedback. Specifically, I used Survey Monkey. I went this route because I'm building a SMB product and this enabled me to get more feedback more quickly than I would have otherwise.

Balance between showing and telling? - 1) Used Mockingbird (wire-frame tool) to throw up a quick wire-frame and used that when discussing the idea. I think it makes more sense to have a wire-frame to demo if you have a digital product like a mobile app or web app. I'm an awful designer. Nevertheless, I was able to throw up a decent wire-frame in a couple of days. Maybe that's an option for you?


Carolyn Branco
2
0
Carolyn Branco Entrepreneur
Head of Marketing at Snupps
Customer idea phase: Don't focus on friends- focus on the customers and problem. I'm from the school of lean startup approach. Before you do anything you should go out and do customer discovery. You often find that you waste a lot of time building the idea you have and then finding out no one wants your solution. Have a vision.. A hypothesis what problem you're solving and go out listening to your customers. Friends and family will not do this. they won't say "I won't buy it" or give you real feedback. Go out on the street and find your customers. Outline what your main hypothesis is: X have this problem... Test: talk to 40 of x about their problems Result: find out that its not actually the problem and instead the real pinpoint is related Y Wondering what I mean - do 2-3 weekend workshops of lean startup machine, Feel free to connect with me directly and I can talk about it. Steve blanks works are particularly informative in this area as are brant coopers. Excuse typos, sent from my iPhone ----------------------- Carolyn Branco +44 7838 866 858
Juston Brommel
2
0
Juston Brommel Entrepreneur • Advisor
Growth Strategist & Advisor to CEOs
IMHO - Talk more. It takes a village to raise a startup. The way collective consciousness works (ala Carl Jung) is that our planet works on a system of collective agreement. If we agree Russia is the enemy, we have a cold war; if we believe they are an ali, the iron curtain comes down. Talk often. Get the consumer feedback. Spread your enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm of others will fuel the fire to bring your idea to life. Holding things close to the chest is old-school, and an outdated fear mentality. Ash Maurya has some great material on managing risk iteratively in a lean startup: http://blog.runningleanhq.com/how-to-systematically-eliminate-risk/ Enjoy, Juston
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