Guerrilla Validation: Test Your Product Idea in a Weekend


How can product teams and startups quickly validate new product ideas without spending a dime?

That concept got put to the test earlier this month at Startup Weekend Santa Barbara. If you’re not familiar with Startup Weekend, participants have 54 hours to develop a business model, get customer validation and start building a product.

On the first night of the event I spoke about how to find and talk with prospective customers. My talk, “Guerrilla Validation: How to Test Your Idea with Real Customers in 54 Hours” gave the teams tips and inspiration for testing their product ideas.

The core message was simple: Product teams and startups don’t need deep pockets, costly market research and weeks of time to get early evidence whether customers are likely to buy. The goal is to quickly document the problem and solution, and then get out of the building to test those assumptions to determine whether anyone cares about your product.

Even mature companies and product managers who are considering new product innovations can benefit from Guerrilla Validation. I talk regularly with product teams about techniques that require little more than the courage to pick up the phone, send an email, or speak to a few people at the coffee shop.

Over the weekend it was fun to watch the teams hustle to get validation any way they could: interviewing people at Home Depot, sending questions in email, or calling business contacts provided by mentors at the event. Several teams quickly gathered enough evidence to move ahead with an improved version of their product.

Whether you’re launching a startup or adding a new product to your business, a few low-cost validation techniques can give your team the confidence you need to get your product on the path to success.