How do I know if my idea is any good?

Here’s the sure-fire test to determine if an idea is worth pursuing.

Question asked by Bryan on March 26, 2017
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Is Your App Idea Any Good?

I get a lot of people asking if I think their app idea is a good one. Although I always have an opinion, in most cases my opinion doesn’t matter. Startups should have a very specific target customer, and odds are that I’m not it yet. Even if I am a target customer, I may not be an early adopter, or I might be that cranky old guy who doesn’t want to change my behavior for something new. In any case, my opinion might not be a very good indicator of idea quality. However, I do have a “good idea” litmus test that I use in these cases to remove my bias.

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Good ideas are worth pursuing

First off, it’s important to mention that a good idea, as I’m defining it, means that the idea is worth pursuing. This test does not necessarily indicate that the product will make a bunch of money, or that everyone will want to use it. And trust me, many ideas are not even worth time pursuing.

Lean App Development

This test, and everything else I advocate, involves using Lean methods to validate assumptions. Lean App Development is by far the best way to develop an app when you’ve got an evolutionary idea. Lean methods don’t work very well for revolutionary ideas, though (that’s a different article). So this litmus test works well for evolutionary ideas bound for Lean App Development.

TEST #1 — Industry Experience

For an app idea to be a good one, the founder must have industry experience or at least domain expertise. That means the founder should have worked in an industry long enough to understand the problems faced by other people who work in the same industry.

Alternatively, they need domain expertise. So a founder may not need to work in the sports / fitness industry to build an app for runners, but at the very least they need to be an avid runner and know other runners.

TEST #2 — Access To Target Customers

When a founder has industry experience which shows them a problem, it naturally follows that they have access to other people which experience the problem. This is not always the case, though. A founder may be a scientist with all kinds of knowledge about current drugs on the market, but has no access to the people who use those drugs (if that happens to be their target market).

If These Don’t Apply To Your Idea

If you don’t have one or both of these things, you’ll have a tough time getting the validation ball rolling. But what if your idea doesn’t really need industry/domain expertise or specific target customers? For example, the next great social app will be used by everyone and have no particular constraining industry. That’s a great example of an idea not worth pursuing… unless of course you’re just looking for a hobby with no plans to create a real business.

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