End goal for a problem validation:
- Have a problem that, when solved, will have a big impact on people's lives
- Has a problem that many people experience, and willing to pay to get it solved
- Has a problem with great potential to provide reasonable returns / benefits to the people who risked their time, money and effort to solve the problem.
At the end of validating a problem, you will make sure that the impact of the problem you are considering moving forward has an impact and is valuable to the focus group or owner of the problem. This effect can be increased productivity and time savings or reduction of the amount it will cost them to use other options. In a for-profit context, you also want to make sure that people think the problem is big enough to be willing to pay you for. And among many other goals, you will also make sure that it provides reasonable benefits to anyone who is willing to commit to solving the problem with you - this list includes co-founders, employees, investors and many others. Therefore, you can see it as a two-way advantage.
What is a problem validation?
- Simple conversation between the person facing the problem and you who are trying to solve the problem.
- It is a process where you try to understand how big a problem is, and also limit where and why the customer experiences the problem.
- Also a process where you get a good understanding of what the customer has tried, what the customer has yet to try and the general feedback from the methods that have already been tested - to inform your solution process.
It is best to see problem validation as a simple conversation between someone who is experiencing a very big problem and someone (a team) who is passionate about solving the problem. In this process, you will gain more insight into how big it is in terms of cost, time and emotions. It is also a process where you have conversations about what the problem owner has tried and why it did not work.
Why do a problem validation?
- Save time and effort for yourself and co-founders, by understanding the nature of the problem before investing a lot of time, effort and money.
- Allows you to engage with the problem owner even before you think of a solution to the problem - in this way you provide a solution that actually means something.
- You get the most important data and insights you need to get employees and investors on board.
- There are several ways to go about how a problem validation should be carried out, but see below for a more generic way:
- First you need to clarify your first thoughts or hypothesis about the problem in a clear statement and write clear goals for what you want to learn while still leaving an open space for surprises.
- Secondly, brainstorming around the type of people who can fit the problem formulation in step one - problem owners.
- Third, list areas / places where you can find the problem owner. The most preferred options are physical arenas where you can have a one-on-one conversation. Otherwise, in impossible cases, you can use a digital advertising tool or manually search for people with similar profiles as your customers (and book an informal chat session with the profiles in those cases).
Now you hopefully have a hypothesis about the problem. You also have a hypothesis about the problem owner with suitable places to find them and a clear goal to clarify. Start a conversation that is informal, comfortable and insightful.