Appsumo – How We Killed A Wantrepreneur

Came across this in my junk mail – thought it showed a good way to validate ideas through simple and low-risk prototyping.


How We Killed A Wantrepreneur
  Neville Medhora 

 October 21, 2012
He was spending money and time on his business idea … instead we made him $75 within 17 hours by doing a simple “validation test” on Craigslist

My friend Taylor bought a really expensive camera and wanted to start a side business by renting out the camera.

He started doing all this “wantrepreneur” stuff like:

  • Looking for website domain names.
  • Learning WordPress so he could start a blog about camera rental.
  • Writing camera rental articles so he could rank in the search engines.

By the time he said, “I’m also gonna file an LLC corporation for this business”, I exploded.

I asked one question: “Do you know if anyone wants to rent these cameras in Austin?”

He fired back with, “But I can’t know until I try.”

This is where he was wrong. You see, there’s an easy way to tell if a business is gonna work. It’s called a validation.

A validation is a “test” that should take from 3 to 30 days to see if people will pay for a product or service.

So is there a way we could validate this idea for free (and also spend very little time)?

There is.

In fact, we built Taylor a validation for this particular idea in less than 30 minutes, for free … and got the first sale within 17 hours!

Here’s how we did it:

First — We wanted to see if people were willing to spend money renting a high-end camera. I decided Craigslist would be a great place to test this out.

Second — We built a super-simple Craigslist ad that took just a few minutes. We made it in Photoshop, but Microsoft Word or even Google Docs is fine too.

The ad is less than 30 words long, and required nearly zero creativity to make. Here it is:

Third — We posted the ad on Craigslist (for free) in the Services > Photography section.

And now we wait. *Sneakily rubs hands together*

Either two things can happen in the next few days:

Bad Scenario —

We get zero people asking about the camera. Bad sign.

This could mean there isn’t much demand for a rental service for this camera. Which might mean this is a crappy business to run with.

— or —

Good Scenario —

We get lots of people wanting to rent the camera immediately. This would indicate we’re filling a big need for a lot of people in this city.

If people start giving us money, this idea might have some legs!

The Actual Results:

I posted the ad for Taylor, and 17 hours after the ad was posted, he called me saying, “Somebody rented the camera!”

Apparently the person called asking how much he was renting the camera out for. He told the person $75 ($25 more than he I once rented a similar camera) … and they picked it up that afternoon.

This means we made a real sale with real money within 17 hours! *Does happy dance*

See how we proved this idea could actually work? Just 30 minutes for a Craigslist ad and zero dollars.

No building websites.

No spending any money.

No writing business plans.

No buying business cards.

No filling for LLC corporations.

Nothing. The next step would be to repeat that success a few times. If people keep renting it, then it’s time to start building the website and expanding the business with more equipment.

So … is there a business idea you’ve been wanting to try, but don’t know how to start?

We actually have a kick-ass course about it called The SumoBusinessBlueprint.

The SumoBusinessBlueprint goes over how to find, research, and validate your ideas. The course shows you how to validate your ideas for pretty much zero money and very little time (generally between 3 and 30 days).

This Craigslist validation was just one type of validation. Different business types require different validations. The course goes over these. Plus we build real validations in front of your eyes so you can follow along (people have told us this part was life-changing)!

If you’re tired of never starting a business because it seems too daunting of a task, you might want to checkout theSumoBusinessBlueprint and learn how to first VALIDATE ideas before going full-out on a business that’s not proven and might fail.

Ok, enough plugging our product!

If you want the ad we made above, you can download it here for free … because we love you and want you to try validating ideas. 🙂

The Craigslist Validation Ad (.psd file)

By the way, we’re putting on an Itty Bitty Conference for Wantrepreneurs on October 30th.

  • Only 5 people will get accepted (we’ll help build your businesses one-by-one).
  • Neville & Noah will take your business ideas and build it with you.
  • It will be held at the AppSumo office in Austin, TX.
  • October 30th, 2012.

Click if you want to apply to get your business validated by us:

If you have a friend who can benefit from validating an idea first, share this with them.

Header image by andrewXu.



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