I have now spent just under 5 months working on the 12 Startups Challenge. I have launched 4 different ideas and although a little delayed, will be working on my 5th soon. A few people have asked me about what my process is on launching each idea. So I thought I’d write it down and hopefully it can help others in launching their ideas.
Here is a quick summary of the steps, and I’ll dive a little deeper down below.
As you go through these steps, remember that you can spend as much or as little time as you’d like. Depending on the idea, you could spend an hour on each and launch within a day!
To get started, you of course need an idea or a problem to solve. So far I’ve just been working on problems that I’ve personally encountered. Although, since I started the challenge and posting about my progress, I’ve also had several people come to me with their ideas too. If you don’t have an idea to work on, there are a tonne of ways you can come up with it and Google is your friend here. You can even Google “Business Ideas” and you’ll probably get a tonne of ideas on other people’s list. Or you can just take one of my odd-ideas that I post on LinkedIn each Monday.
This is an optional step, mostly because it depends on the idea and depends on how much you care about the success of the project vs just practicing launching an idea. I generally do a quick Googling and research on different sub-reddits or facebook groups just to get a gauge on how big the market is and if there are any other competitors in the space. Having competitors does not mean you shouldn’t work on it, if anything it means that there is a need for that idea. Competitors can show you what features are important to people or based on reviews of the competitor you can also see if they have missed some features that people are asking for.
Ideally you’d want to validate the idea you are working on to see if at least one person would use it (and hopefully pay for it). The nice thing about working on your own problems is that you have at least 1 user, which is yourself. On this step, I would reach out to people who I think would benefit from my idea. I would ask them some questions around how they are currently dealing with the problem you are wanting to solve. I have found The Mom Test to be a very useful resource on asking the right questions to validate your idea.
This is it, you’ve got an idea, you’ve spoken to people who are interested in it, now you need to work out what should be included in your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Here is my general process on how I approach this.
Pretty self-explanatory here, but go build it! Remember to concentrate on the really important features that you worked out in the previous step. This is also where you can get really creative. Not everything has to be built with code. Uber’s MVP was just a phone number you can text to get picked up, YNAB’s MVP was an excel spreadsheet that you can download. There are also so many no-code tools out there today that can help you spin things up really fast. Basically get creative and use the skills you have to launch things as fast as possible.
This is it, you’ve got your shiny new MVP. Launch it, deploy it, share it! Go back to the initial people that you spoke to and send it to them and ask them for feedback. Regardless of the result, just remember that you launched something! That’s a great thing, so celebrate that win!
Now that you’ve launched your idea, review your results. What feedback did you get from your initial users? Remember that no feedback is also a form of feedback. Work out what went well, what went wrong, and then iterate over. You now have a choice to continue with this idea, keep talking to people to find out what else can be done, or you can call it and move onto the next idea. Either way, you should have learned some new skills, talked to some interesting people and you turned your idea into reality! Now, that’s super cool!
This is the process I have followed and adjusted over the last 4 ideas I launched, but it may change overtime as I learn new things. I do hope that this breakdown can show you how easy it is to get started and that you can go and launch your ideas pretty quickly! If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to me.