Quick & Dirty Market Check

The other day I received an email from Vijay Anand as part of a group that I’m also part of. It was about the ongoing debate between figuring out the business model vs. writing a detailed business plan for startups today. I will cover my thoughts on that topic in a later blog post.

This blog, however, is on a note that caught my attention in the email. It said that startups should test the market quickly by doing a “lean” product/solution and turn it around/change it if it does not stick in the market. He also gave an example from their current incubator.

My concern on this is the following, any startup especially the one trying to develop a new market is trying at some level to change people’s behaviors/habits. We are coming up with a new of getting information, collecting it, storing it, accessing it, implementing knowledge, new technology-based tools – and more…While, many of them can be created as a minimalistic products/solutions and test-marketed for a few weeks or months, the change in behavior required to cause even a ripple in the market and create product/solution adoption may not occur in the same time frame (in fact, I’m sure with new markets it will not). It will not even show signs of changing.

But, this is not an argument against doing the quick and dirty market check. What it will show you, in fact, is what you are really up against and it might even point you in the direction of incorporating some changes in the product. The answer to big ground-level changes does not really lie in only figuring out a “business model” or writing a “business plan” . It is in the vision that this change can happen or is required to happen for the world to be a better place. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to figure out how to build something tangible and repeatable for sure but it is also important not to get discouraged while doing so and hence vision is important. I hope people don’t start shelving their plans because nothing moved in the market based on their quick and dirty market check. I agree, it shakes you, quite a bit and it should. Like Steve Blank says, “No business model survives first contact with customers” . But, if you have the right vision and you are solving the right problem, keeping an eye on the market and an ear close to the ground will help you see it through.


2 Responses to “Quick & Dirty Market Check”

  1. 1 Vijay Anand October 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Hmm. So, to tell you the truth I agree with you. When working with Emerging markets, I am not sure about the concept of Lean Startups working – It might work in the Web world where things can be put on the Cloud and the cost of customer acquisition can be directly linked to revenue, sale and delivery cost and it being a COGS overhead rather than a recurring one.

    However, going into the market with a quick and dirty product is very very important. You might be extremely lucky if you find out that people actually love the product and will buy it the way it is, but most often than not, they will give you direction – and feedback in terms of further costing and timelines which will have a dent on your business plan and what you tell your customers, employees, stakeholders and the board on how and when this company will be able to do what. Its really reality check, and its good to have that at the earliest possible – when the company is new, and the product is young.

    We are both saying the same thing, arent we? 🙂

    • 2 Sreeja Iyer October 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

      Yes, we both are saying the same things. But what worries me most is that all metrics of how long it takes to understand a market, see change in consumer behavior, get a startup up and running, things to track are all being borrowed from sources that are not really relevant for the India (or even largely emerging markets) concept. Can we work on a model to understand, create and popularize the right set of things to do a “quick and dirty” check on and how “quick” and how “dirty” can the prototypes be? What say?

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