So you think you have come up with the latest must-have product. But who will want to buy it and how much will they be willing to pay?
It’s one of the most crucial steps in any start-up’s journey – validating that there will be sufficient demand, and at the right price, for a new product.
But how do you begin to figure out exactly how big a market there really is, to ensure it is a business idea worth pursuing and one that may attract seed investment?
Conducting marketing research
Firstly, you need to define your target market. If you haven’t already done so, then make sure you think about who your end user is likely to be. At this stage, you may need to rely on making some educated assumptions, which you can then tweak and enhance as your market research progresses.
Friends, family and colleagues will typically be the first participants in any start-up’s market research. They are free, accessible, and often very enthusiastic. These groups are often the first source of feedback that a start-up entrepreneur receives about their product idea and can end up shaping the direction that early prototypes take.
But feedback gathered from these participants should be treated with caution, as they are likely to err on the more positive side and to shy away from spilling any cold hard truths. They may also not be your end target market, or likely early adopters of the new product.
What is really needed is a robust test for market demand, if you are to move your product idea forward – especially if you’re planning to give up the day job in the process.
Unless you have sufficient cash reserves to self-fund your market research, then you are going to have to roll your sleeves up, get out there and start talking to your target users. If you have the budget, then focus groups are a popular method for gathering qualitative data from a target market. However, when bootstrapping your market research, you need to be a little more creative with your methods.
5 top tips for validating a market without breaking the bank:
What should I do about protecting my intellectual property (IP)?
A word of caution here, before you go out into the big wide world talking about your new product idea. What steps have you taken to adequately protect your idea and the intellectual property you have created?
Much of this will come down to whether your product can be patented, or have its designs registered. If so, then you should take steps to protect what you have developed before talking to anybody. You can utilise Non-Disclosure Agreements for a few initial conversations, but realistically this will hold up your research and it’s much better to put some initial protection in place first.
There are some fantastic resources available for start-ups that cannot afford to immediately engage the services of a patent attorney. For example, at the British Design Fund we have a partnership with ACID – Anti Copying In Design. ACID is a not-for-profit trade association that offers its members advice and guidance on safeguarding their designs and intellectual property.
The British Library also offers free 1 hour IP clinics for start-ups looking to get some advice on how to commercially protect their ideas.
Got an interesting product?
If you have a well-designed product that fulfils a distinct need, or solves an important problem, then get in touch. Applications for funding available through the latest British Design Fund are now open, and can be submitted here, or for more information email us using firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can invest in future British Design Funds, then please email us using enquiries@britishdesignfund.
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