Evaluate your ideas

“At least half our product ideas are not going to work” - Marty Cagan

That list of fantastic ideas is looking great (Strawberry farm on the Moon!). Now for a quick reality check:

  • We don’t know which potential solutions are correct (and should assume most are wrong).
  • We have limited resources (so we can’t build every idea).

To figure out which ideas to take forward, we rate the potential of each idea, focused on whether there is enough demand; whether you can build a useful prototype easily, quickly and cheaply and whether you are the right person to build it.

It’s a filter, to catch any major issues and check if the opportunity is worth pursuing, before we jump in and start spending resource on building (validating).

Prioritisation matrix

A simple prioritisation matrix using (say) a 1-5 scale can be used to evaluate these three areas in a simple spreadsheet.

You can also use a threshold level to provide a minimum standard needed for an idea to go through to validation (say, an average of 4/5 for each criteria. So 8+ out of 10, 12/15 etc).

This provides a prioritised list of ideas to validate.

The main categories to rate are as follows:

Feasibility

Can you build it yourself, easily, quickly and cheaply? Can you update it easily too? Is there a simplified version that you could make instead, or a manual or physical version?

Speed of validation is the priority, so make a rough timescale based on complexity and your technical expertise, and flag anything that may take over a few days to build a prototype.

Demand

Is it actually a problem, or is the existing solution good enough? Do people have the problem urgently, to the point they’ll use your prototype?

Is the audience size large enough to make it worth pursuing? And are people paying for this problem to be solved at the moment?

Founder fit

Do you have the understanding and technical ability to build it yourself? And most importantly, do you actually care about the people who have the problem, the problem itself, and the solution(s) that you might build?

Strawberry farm on the Moon

Let's evaluate our example.

Feasibility - building on the actual moon is a bit tight budget wise and getting strawberries back from the moon in edible condition is a major (!) logistic challenge, but we could build a concept landing page or a few basic images. These might allow us to quickly test whether there is any interest in the concept, so it’s a (generous) 1/5.

Demand - is this solving a real problem? Moon Farm™ uses its unique low gravity environment to bring you galactic size strawberries. Does anyone want bigger strawberries? Potentially. Does it matter that they are made in space? Not really. And would people pay potentially hundreds of thousands for space strawberries? Extremely unlikely, making Elon Musk our only potential customer. 0/5.

Founder fit - do I know anything about space or food logistics? Nope. Do I want to spend years learning and pitching this idea to see if I can make it a reality? Also nope! 0/5.

Moon Farm™ has totalled 1/15, which safely fails to pass our threshold of 12/15, so we won’t take it forward for validation. The dream was good while it lasted (and if anyone does pursue this, let me know)!

Most importantly, we’ve saved ourselves a huge amount of time, energy and resource in not pursuing this further (apart from the below…). That’s a win!

Moon Farm