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HOT TOPIC Business Validation as a Service

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Surge5x

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Hey everyone, I'm new here so if this isn't the right place to post this please let me know and I'll move it.

I recently launched my latest venture which is a consulting business that helps entrepreneurs, investors and businesses validate business ideas. I've been doing this internally for the last two years and I've found a way to automate large chunks of the research process - and now I want to start offering this service externally. Site: https://ideachecker.com/.

For a flat fee, I provide a concept note that frames the proposition, outlines the market conditions and key challenges that the client needs to be aware of.

I'd love to hear your feedback / comments on how you find the website, and any suggestions on where best to market these services... I've had good traction from family and friends and already have 5 clients. But for this to work at scale I need to find clients at just the right stage of thinking (ideation).

Thanks!
 

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rwhyan

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You tell me, man. In validating your own business idea, what was your plan for marketing your services?

Aren't you supposed to be an expert in bringing businesses to fruition?

----

Regardless, here's my thoughts because maybe they'll help someone else reading this:

Where do your prospects hang out? Where can you come in contact with entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses?

You can go to meetups and network.

You can use referrals from your current clientbase.

Or you can post the link on an entrepreneurship forum with 50k+ members after joining one day ago and posting only 5 times...
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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You tell me, man. In validating your own business idea, what was your plan for marketing your services?

Aren't you supposed to be an expert in bringing businesses to fruition?

----

Regardless, here's my thoughts because maybe they'll help someone else reading this:

Where do your prospects hang out? Where can you come in contact with entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses?

You can go to meetups and network.

You can use referrals from your current clientbase.

Or you can post the link on an entrepreneurship forum with 50k+ members after joining one day ago and posting only 5 times...

No, I think you’ve misunderstood me here. I probably wasn’t explaining it clearly enough;

I’m pretty confident in my core proposition, what I was looking for was feedback on the website, whether my service is explained clearly enough and what changes I need to make.

I’ve only done this internally so I have no experience actually marketing this service out.

Does that help clear the air? And thanks for your suggestions, helpful!
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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I’m new here, but isn’t this the correct forum for feedback? I’m not arrogant enough to think that I don’t need any feedback on my website and marketing efforts.
 

biophase

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My first thought is who is this guy or company that can validate my idea? What ideas has he shot down and given thumbs up to? How did these business do afterwards?

What kind of report do you get for $500?

You list almost every category possible. How could you know that much about every niche from Crypto to ride sharing to healthcare?
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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My first thought is who is this guy or company that can validate my idea? What ideas has he shot down and given thumbs up to? How did these business do afterwards?

What kind of report do you get for $500?

You list almost every category possible. How could you know that much about every niche from Crypto to ride sharing to healthcare?
Thank you biophase for taking the time to look it over.

And you bring up an important point; I'm not a swiss army knife that knows everything about all of these industries and if this is what is coming across from the website then I need to make changes to it. While I do have experience working and validating businesses in each of these sectors, I am by no means an authority on either.

That being said, what I provide is more of a turnkey research service that let's clients go from "I have an idea" to receiving a report that:
1. frames their idea around a core proposition
2. an analysis of the market and
3. highlights the key issues and challenges the business is likely to face.
Over the last two year I've undertaken this exercise for over a hundred business ideas, although this is proprietary information which I cannot name or mention publicly. (But I hear your point on showing what a sample report looks like, will work on adding this in!)

Any suggestions for how best I could demonstrate my credentials in a way that doesn't make my business seem like a scam?

Once again, thanks for your time!
 

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scottmsul

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To be honest it's difficult to image a scenario where a generalist could provide industry-specific business insights to a specialist that the specialist wasn't already aware of. And usually the success of a business lies in the execution, not the idea, so there might not be much of a market for idea validation. I would also expect most business owners to agree with this sentiment, so if you wanted to sell this service to business owners it would likely be a tough sell. Assuming you are creating reports that are actually worth more than $500, you would probably want to have some sample reports that you give away for free so potential clients would know exactly the value you are offering, otherwise I would expect them to be extremely skeptical.
 

biophase

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Thank you biophase for taking the time to look it over.

And you bring up an important point; I'm not a swiss army knife that knows everything about all of these industries and if this is what is coming across from the website then I need to make changes to it. While I do have experience working and validating businesses in each of these sectors, I am by no means an authority on either.

That being said, what I provide is more of a turnkey research service that let's clients go from "I have an idea" to receiving a report that:
1. frames their idea around a core proposition
2. an analysis of the market and
3. highlights the key issues and challenges the business is likely to face.
Over the last two year I've undertaken this exercise for over a hundred business ideas, although this is proprietary information which I cannot name or mention publicly. (But I hear your point on showing what a sample report looks like, will work on adding this in!)

Any suggestions for how best I could demonstrate my credentials in a way that doesn't make my business seem like a scam?

Once again, thanks for your time!
I would post an example of what you would do for a business idea. For example, I'll give you a business that I'm in right now. Dog accessories, say I want to start a business selling dog leashes and collars. What would your report look like. I'm curious to see what you would say is #3-highlights the key issues and challenges the business is likely to face.
 

Merging Left

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I think you need to include a "sample report" on the website. Maybe in exchange for an e-mail, but I would recommend you just put it out there for all to see. $500 is a lot of money when all I have is a vague idea, no business sense, and no idea what I'm actually paying for.

Unless you're offering to run A/B testing and a short ad campaign to gauge actual demand, what you're offering is a much more theoretical report to what is probably a vague idea. You're not likely dealing with seasoned professionals here, and I think you should really keep that in mind as you structure the website.

It does sound to me like this service is primarily geared towards folks who are more of the camp "I think I have an idea but I don't know anything about business!!" than to the forum members here, which makes sense. Because of that, you might consider making it less formal. You're using terms that people who are familiar with businesses know, such as "value proposition", but that might not resonate with your true audience.

Also, if it's $499, just say it's $499. Don't make me fill out a form to get a quote that's not actually personalized. I rarely fill out forms for quotes unless I'm truly ready to buy. If I'm mulling it over and there's no price advertised, I move on. Maybe that's just me. At the very least you could include "Reports starting from just $xxx"

Your "Why Us" section is extremely lacking in detail. "Wide ranging experience across sectors and markets"? What does that mean? Who is the team, how many years of experience do you have, and what industries have you worked in? I see now that you answer that in the section right below, so it seems a bit redundant to me. I think you could probably combine those two sections to answer both questions.
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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I would post an example of what you would do for a business idea. For example, I'll give you a business that I'm in right now. Dog accessories, say I want to start a business selling dog leashes and collars. What would your report look like. I'm curious to see what you would say is #3-highlights the key issues and challenges the business is likely to face.
Hey biophase, first off: I hear you loud and clear. I need to be able to show what I can do for businesses so a few examples of sample reports are next on my todo list.

On your second point; I'd really love to take a swing at it but I have 0 experience in animal accessories, drop shipping (I'm assuming) and e-commerce - so anything I have to say on this would be lacking in value. I know this seems like an excuse, but it's the reason I've put in the areas where I'm confident of turning in good quality work.

Are you ok with me sharing some of the sample reports with you once I've gotten them prepared? Would love to hear what you think of them.
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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I think you need to include a "sample report" on the website. Maybe in exchange for an e-mail, but I would recommend you just put it out there for all to see. $500 is a lot of money when all I have is a vague idea, no business sense, and no idea what I'm actually paying for.

Unless you're offering to run A/B testing and a short ad campaign to gauge actual demand, what you're offering is a much more theoretical report to what is probably a vague idea. You're not likely dealing with seasoned professionals here, and I think you should really keep that in mind as you structure the website.

It does sound to me like this service is primarily geared towards folks who are more of the camp "I think I have an idea but I don't know anything about business!!" than to the forum members here, which makes sense. Because of that, you might consider making it less formal. You're using terms that people who are familiar with businesses know, such as "value proposition", but that might not resonate with your true audience.

Also, if it's $499, just say it's $499. Don't make me fill out a form to get a quote that's not actually personalized. I rarely fill out forms for quotes unless I'm truly ready to buy. If I'm mulling it over and there's no price advertised, I move on. Maybe that's just me. At the very least you could include "Reports starting from just $xxx"

Your "Why Us" section is extremely lacking in detail. "Wide ranging experience across sectors and markets"? What does that mean? Who is the team, how many years of experience do you have, and what industries have you worked in? I see now that you answer that in the section right below, so it seems a bit redundant to me. I think you could probably combine those two sections to answer both questions.
Merging Left, your feedback makes a lot of sense and those points are immediately addressable. Thanks for taking the time to look it over!
 

biophase

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Hey biophase, first off: I hear you loud and clear. I need to be able to show what I can do for businesses so a few examples of sample reports are next on my todo list.

On your second point; I'd really love to take a swing at it but I have 0 experience in animal accessories, drop shipping (I'm assuming) and e-commerce - so anything I have to say on this would be lacking in value. I know this seems like an excuse, but it's the reason I've put in the areas where I'm confident of turning in good quality work.

Are you ok with me sharing some of the sample reports with you once I've gotten them prepared? Would love to hear what you think of them.
So in this case, since you have 0 experience, what would your business do? You would go find an expert and pay that person to do the report?

This is what you list on your website:
Online Marketplaces
- Identifying niches
- On-boarding initial users
- Fee models
- Matching supply / demand

So I read this as any niche in ecommerce? What do you mean by matching supply and demand?
 

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It looks like real need and bad product. I'm out.
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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So in this case, since you have 0 experience, what would your business do? You would go find an expert and pay that person to do the report?

This is what you list on your website:
Online Marketplaces
- Identifying niches
- On-boarding initial users
- Fee models
- Matching supply / demand

So I read this as any niche in ecommerce? What do you mean by matching supply and demand?
To be honest, at this point I would turn down the client and mention the reasons why I'm not the right person for the job.

To your second point, what I mean by online marketplaces are platforms such as upwork, uber, urbanclap, thumbtack, etc - and matching supply and demand in this case relates to balancing incentives and on-boarding figures to make sure that there's healthy liquidity on the marketplace.
 

Merging Left

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Let's just make up a business idea then, that you could use as your example on the website if you feel it's appropriate.

Here's a random one for ya: I want to rent a retail space at JFK International Airport and fill it with small "pods" that overnight/layover travelers could rent by the hour instead of having to leave the airport and rent a hotel. Basically something like this: Lengthy Airport Wait? Catch a Nap at a Pod Hotel

Is this a viable business idea in this particular location? Is there enough demand for such an offering? How would I even go about launching such a business?
 

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Jeremy H(Loop)

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To be honest, at this point I would turn down the client and mention the reasons why I'm not the right person for the job.

To your second point, what I mean by online marketplaces are platforms such as upwork, uber, urbanclap, thumbtack, etc - and matching supply and demand in this case relates to balancing incentives and on-boarding figures to make sure that there's healthy liquidity on the marketplace.
This would make the buisness very tough to stay profitable and progressive as you would only be able to be of help to clients in fields of which you are a "expert" in or have reasonable input on. This makes a very small niche in the market, try to find a way to expand and allow a larger client base.
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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Let's just make up a business idea then, that you could use as your example on the website if you feel it's appropriate.

Here's a random one for ya: I want to rent a retail space at JFK International Airport and fill it with small "pods" that overnight/layover travelers could rent by the hour instead of having to leave the airport and rent a hotel. Basically something like this: Lengthy Airport Wait? Catch a Nap at a Pod Hotel

Is this a viable business idea in this particular location? Is there enough demand for such an offering? How would I even go about launching such a business?
Happy to, super interesting and thanks for the suggestion! Let me work on it this weekend and get back to you? I'll post it here so I can get feedback from the others too.
 

Merging Left

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Happy to, super interesting and thanks for the suggestion! Let me work on it this weekend and get back to you? I'll post it here so I can get feedback from the others too.
Disclaimer: This is just for us to see what the report would look like and give feedback on it, as well as provide an example you can use on the site. I'm not pursuing this business, so don't feel obligated to return something to me within a certain time frame, etc. I think you knew that but I wanted to be extra clear.
 
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Surge5x

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Disclaimer: This is just for us to see what the report would look like and give feedback on it, as well as provide an example you can use on the site. I'm not pursuing this business, so don't feel obligated to return something to me within a certain time frame, etc. I think you knew that but I wanted to be extra clear.
Yup, but it's great practice so I appreciate the opportunity and want to simulate the actual process as much as possible!
 

Jeff Noel

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I'll go prepare the popcorn for everyone.

I really like the way you replied to everyone in this thread, while I'm still skeptical about the real value you can provide to entrepreneurs. I'll be watching for the sample report !
 

biophase

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To be honest, at this point I would turn down the client and mention the reasons why I'm not the right person for the job.

To your second point, what I mean by online marketplaces are platforms such as upwork, uber, urbanclap, thumbtack, etc - and matching supply and demand in this case relates to balancing incentives and on-boarding figures to make sure that there's healthy liquidity on the marketplace.
Ok, I understand. To be honest anyone launching a business in the fields you have selected are not going to rely on a simple report. I mean realistically lets look at what you have on your website:

Fintech

- Payment Networks - Foreign Exchange- Regulatory Framework- Emerging Business Models

If I'm going to start a new Paypal, do I need a $500 report? Someone who is going to be in the business of a payment network going to be super experienced in banking, credit cards, finance, etc...

I probably need a some $100k consulting.

Transportation
- Ride Sharing - Energy Infrastructure - Public Transportation- Shipping & Trade

Ride sharing? If someone is going to do anything in this space, they will need much more validation than a report. Energy infrastructure and public transportation? I can't think of a scenario where someone would come to a website like yours for data.

None of the businesses above are started by a first time entrepreneur.

This is just my opinion on this.

Now if I were to do a business like yours. I would do an ecommerce idea validation business where you pay me $500 and I'd discuss the pros and cons of your ecommerce product, determine if it's viable for Amazon FBA, discuss your value proposition and your plan to market it. It would be easy because I have the knowledge and can do it myself. I would have alot of case studies and testimonials to back it up. I'd put all of this on my website and it would be easy to drive this very specific traffic to my site. I'm also targeting my first timers so $500 is within the proper range.

I think you should be niching down your offerings much more to specific areas of your expertise.
 
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Surge5x

Surge5x

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Hey everyone, following up on Merging Left's excellent suggestion, I have gone ahead and prepared the report on his idea (Sleeping pods at JFK). Before you all tear it to shreds :), a few pointers:

  1. Usually the first step in the process would be to have a 30-45 minute chat with the client to understand how exactly they are seeing this business idea and asking some questions to help narrow down the focus. For the purpose of this trial run, I've taken a few assumptions in the report which you guys may / may not agree with. Just a heads up!
  2. As Merging Left pointed out in an earlier post: This service is probably not aimed at seasoned entrepreneurs such as most people in this forum. I've had some time to think about it and I tend to agree, I see this more as a research note that helps frame the initial idea and compiles the best available market data for someone to decide whether or not they want to proceed with this business. I agree that execution is infinitely more important than an idea, I'm just hoping to provide more clarity on said idea.

And as always, really appreciate everyone here taking the time to give me feedback.
 

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Surge5x

Surge5x

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Ok, I understand. To be honest anyone launching a business in the fields you have selected are not going to rely on a simple report. I mean realistically lets look at what you have on your website:

Fintech

- Payment Networks - Foreign Exchange- Regulatory Framework- Emerging Business Models

If I'm going to start a new Paypal, do I need a $500 report? Someone who is going to be in the business of a payment network going to be super experienced in banking, credit cards, finance, etc...

I probably need a some $100k consulting.

Transportation
- Ride Sharing - Energy Infrastructure - Public Transportation- Shipping & Trade

Ride sharing? If someone is going to do anything in this space, they will need much more validation than a report. Energy infrastructure and public transportation? I can't think of a scenario where someone would come to a website like yours for data.

None of the businesses above are started by a first time entrepreneur.

This is just my opinion on this.

Now if I were to do a business like yours. I would do an ecommerce idea validation business where you pay me $500 and I'd discuss the pros and cons of your ecommerce product, determine if it's viable for Amazon FBA, discuss your value proposition and your plan to market it. It would be easy because I have the knowledge and can do it myself. I would have alot of case studies and testimonials to back it up. I'd put all of this on my website and it would be easy to drive this very specific traffic to my site. I'm also targeting my first timers so $500 is within the proper range.

I think you should be niching down your offerings much more to specific areas of your expertise.
Hey sorry for not seeing this earlier. And yes biophase, I think what you say has a lot of merit. These are industries with massive incumbents and a small research report is not going to allow them to launch a business.

That being said, do you see value in a service that undertakes the initial research to see whether the client even wants to pursue such an opportunity?

Nonetheless, thanks for pointing that out; I ought to change up the messaging to manage expectations.
 

mardybum

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Hey everyone, following up on Merging Left's excellent suggestion, I have gone ahead and prepared the report on his idea (Sleeping pods at JFK). Before you all tear it to shreds :), a few pointers:

  1. Usually the first step in the process would be to have a 30-45 minute chat with the client to understand how exactly they are seeing this business idea and asking some questions to help narrow down the focus. For the purpose of this trial run, I've taken a few assumptions in the report which you guys may / may not agree with. Just a heads up!
  2. As Merging Left pointed out in an earlier post: This service is probably not aimed at seasoned entrepreneurs such as most people in this forum. I've had some time to think about it and I tend to agree, I see this more as a research note that helps frame the initial idea and compiles the best available market data for someone to decide whether or not they want to proceed with this business. I agree that execution is infinitely more important than an idea, I'm just hoping to provide more clarity on said idea.

And as always, really appreciate everyone here taking the time to give me feedback.
Isn't the job of the potential founder to do exactly what you have done? How do your clients get any new insights?! You basically only provide information that is common knowledge.

Why don't you offer a different kind of service? E.g. the creation of a valid business model (e.g. Business Model Canvas; Every time in a fixed scheme)? This would provide a little more value. But its just a thought!
 

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