We are running into problems getting seed money for our MVP. Every potential investor wants to see the finished product. They want to see if the market would be interested. We have a ton of secondary research. I would like your opinion about reaching out to our target markets with a survey of what our product will look like and how it will function. It is a platform so it has three components and three different target audience. We were only focusing on one for marketing efforts but based on the investors input, I think we need to get feedback from all three level of potential users.
My question is it a risk to put your product out there? Do you think emailing or using social media for a personal invite for the survey, that people will respond? Is a random drawing enough for respondents for incentive? We don’t have the money to pay each person but would like to provide some incentive.
We really want the survey respondents to feel they are part of a bigger stake. If you have any thoughts, have done this, or think this is a bad idea? All responses are welcome.
Learning Center View all courses >
hi Kim, great question. many first time entrepreneurs get confused with this.
I can understand the investors' desire to see your product in action. As an investor, I would not give you any money for an idea on paper (unless it's new patent for a time machine).
You should definitely first build your product and customer base, before seeking the big bucks.
Survey is nice, but not likely to give you real feedback. You can ask a potential user: "would you pay for this product?", in the survey you will get positive reply, but when it comes down to it, the user will do whatever fits him when the moment to really make the payment arrives.
And so, you can send out surveys, but to an only existing hot leads, or customer. and even then, send it in order to find answers to pin point questions, and not general ones, like "how do you want the product to look like".
You should, sorry, must, build your product, making it as lean and focused as possible on the user's main benefits. That's the point of MVP. Putting your product/service out there as early as possible, and as ugly as possible, in order to test it in the wild, with real users, in the real world.
It's better to put it as soon as possible, then later, working for 12 months on it, "hiding" it from the market, only to find out that the product is wrong, no one needs it, and you wasted all your time and money.
Only then you can, and will, have the confidence to ask for money. To enhance the product, make the software better, make the UI and UX better, add gamification, add features etc.
Now, my 2 cents: the investors are right. From what I can tell you have no product & no customers. You don’t have (and shouldn’t right now) create a high fidelity MVP. A marketing website built from WordPress or Squarespace is fine. If you have that, find people who are your target market, see if they’re interested, and ask if they’d like to keep updated by supplying their email. This is your waiting list. Do this until you have hundreds of emails.
Then use Mailchimp to create an automated email series where you ask your waiting list the survey questions once or twice a week. By the time you have hundreds of people in your waiting list, you can tell investors you have a marketing website & a list of people, & used them to validate your assumptions.
This begins to answer if your target market is interested.
The main focus of the survey is to confirm there are future buyers. So the survey should confirm this.
Sending a survey to lots of people that are not concerned or not willing to buy your services in the end will not deliver you credibility.
Also in the survey, request if people are "frustrated with an actual situation" - so you can confirm if your MVP replies to this frustration.
You needc reate not MVP. You need create clickable prototypes. After creation of them, you need to collect focus groups (different target audiences) and provide this prototype to each group together with uses cases. You will have feedbacks. After that you make edits in prototypes ( it's more cheaper than edits in MVP) acci with focus groups feedbacks. And conduct second wave. Have feedbacks again. Of course positive, because you make edits according with feedbacks of first wave. All this you place in pitch and ask money for MVP. If you all make correct , you not only save money , you will have MVP with business requirements, relevant to your target audience and lanch will be successful. To attract people to focus group, just say them true - you want make pruduct for them and just want ask their opinion, to make a product maximum relevant for their needs.
It's very understandable why they insist on seeing a finished product and to see the interest generated by the product. Surveys can be very misleading. I remember reading about a big company(I don't remember the product and the exact details) that had a focus group regarding the preferred color for their product. While most participants said that they preferred red over black, when given the choice to leave with a product from the sample table, most of them actually left with the black one. Real action is more important than opinions. When actual action is requested behavior can change. In one of these answers someone explained how you can develop your MVP with different fazes of testing with potential users. You should do that. No investor will give you money on surveys and research alone. On another note, I think having three different target users may be a bit too much. It seems a bit unfocused. But maybe I'm wrong :) .
I am going to go against the grain here. First try to get customers, then design with them the MVP.
From my experience as an investor, what I want before even thinking of an MVP is to be sure that there is a problem to be solved (one of which customers are aware of, prioritize and try to solve somehow to avoid the pain). Secondary research is nice but insufficient, and better than surveys is to talk with customers in person to understand not what they think of your solution, but how they deal with the problem. Not asking for opinions but observing what they do. For me, I give more weight to a few dozen high quality and insightful personal interviews than to hundreds of surveys.
From those interviews, at the very least you’ll gather information as to how critical the problem really is, the willingness to engage and pay for a solution, what that solution could/should look like (MVP), and which are the first customers that you should be targeting first (not all should be targeted first). If done well, you can end up with a few names of potential clients, willing to engage even before you have an MVP, feeling the pain so acutely that they are willing to be an early adopter and pay a premium just to be in the loop, decide features and be first to use it. Sounds crazy, I know, but I have seen it at work.
There is a book that I have used and recommended for interviews called “Lean Customer Development” that you may find useful. It has some good ideas as to how find the right interviewing candidates and how to conduct the interviews to maximize insights.
Some great comments down here. My one add would be careful about how you evaluate responses. It is very difficult to get people to accurately imagine how they would feel or react to a hypothetical (I am assuming you will not have an actual product for them to respond to, but rather just questions about one or their need for its solution)? Quantitate surveys will often 'lead the jury' as it were. If you do one I recommend supplementing it with some qualitative sessions which can also be done online with a smaller group (like a focus group). They are more iterative but give you much more texture on how people will really react or feel to your product. They can also surprise wiht suggestions. And finally they give yo great "quotes" to leaven the data in you presentation to those investors afterwards. Good luck.