Home Thinking Aloud Cheap Ways Validate Your App Idea And Get Early Users

Cheap Ways Validate Your App Idea And Get Early Users


Multi-Ethnic Group of People Planning Ideas

by Mark McDonald, co-founder and co-CEO of Appster

While there is no bullet-proof way to validate your app idea before you launch, getting a face time or any kind of interaction with potential user base can be incredibly helpful.

Understanding your users and the problems they face, is an essential element of building a successful product. Depending on what you’re trying to learn, here are some possible ways to reach out.

1.  Starbucks Test.

If you target general consumer markets, you want to do your market research with random people to get some objective feedback. That means your friends and family are out of the picture.

Here’s how you do the Starbucks test. Go to a nearest coffee shop, offer random person to buy them a coffee provided they give you an honest feedback on your brother’s app idea. It costs $5 per person and once you start a conversation and engage you’ll likely to get much more out of it.

2. Landing Page + AdWords Campaign.

Set up a simple coming soon page with a mail subscription form (e.g. Bootstrap + Mailchimp, both free). Have a solid to-the-point copywriting explaining what you work on. Then claim a free AdWords, Bing, Yahoo, etc. credit and launch your campaign.

If your ads are targeted, you’ll find specific users most relevant to your potential user base. Get them to sign up and follow up with survey or ask them for a quick Skype call.

3. Startup Directories.

Similar to AdWords campaign, use your landing page and submit it to startup directories like Betali.st or Startupli.st. This will get you couple hundred sign ups from early adopters and mobile app enthusiasts. Again, follow up, invite the to fill in a survey or talk to you over Skype.

4. Survey Tools.

Tools like PickFu or Google Surveys allow you to run quick and cheap surveys to get feedback on variety of questions. These tools are great to perform general market research and get better insights into questions you’re not sure about.

5. Go to Meetups and Talk to People.

Meetup.com is a great source for finding targeted communities you can engage with. If you want to take it a step further, create double-sided business cards with a signup URL and some discount code or exclusive access on the backside.

Talk to people, get their feedback, exchange ideas, and business cards. Ask them if they would like to be notified when you launch and if the answer is positive, put them on their emails on the list.

6. Cold Emails.

Cold emails work. Many mobile entrepreneurs got their first customers through direct emailing. Research relevant people from the industry you’re targeting and send them a friendly, personal email. If the problem you’re going to solve matters, they’ll respond.

7. $100 Feature Test.

Once you’ve developed some relationships and established communication with some interested users, this test can be incredibly helpful in determining your minimum feature set.

Let’s say your product has five potentially valuable features. Provide the with a list of features and ask them the following question “If you had $100 to invest in any features of this product, what features would you invest your money in?”

Depending on how they divide the money, you’ll get an idea what sort of feature-set your customers are most likely to pay for.

For most of these meetings/customer interactions, it’s good to have something to show. It can be a simple wireframe, bunch of screenshots or more advanced prototype.

Make sure you’re able to describe your idea clearly, ideally in one sentence. If you can’t explain it, you won’t get valuable feedback.

Likewise, be clear on what you’re trying to get out of it – are you validating the pain exists, possible price points or determining what features make sense to launch with? Whatever it is, do it with purpose and prepare your questions accordingly.


mark mcdonald

Mark McDonald is the co-founder and co-CEO of Australia’s Leading App Development Company, Appster. With Offices in San Francisco, Melbourne and India, Appster is quickly becoming a worldwide leader in mobile application development.