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Tips, Tricks, & Advice

Idea Validation

Idea Validation

by Vin McCauley

A year ago

First time start-up founders:  Is your idea valid?  

Here are a few ways to dip your toe in entrepreneurial waters before jumping in the deep end.

Starting a business is inherently risky, and this risk is even higher when it comes to first time start-ups. With low barriers to entry, simply having a self-proclaimed "great idea" is not enough to guarantee success. Before committing a significant amount of time, money, effort, and emotional capital to launching a business, it's important to get some idea validation first. In this article, we'll discuss several ways to do that.

Firstly, it's important to keep in mind the "Traffic Light Method". This method involves approaching an idea as if it's green (a go) until something or someone stops you (it turns red). In the past, all that I needed to run full speed ahead was an idea, but that approach can lead to being stuck in the messy middle between surviving and thriving. Therefore, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and to have a plan for how to address them.

Secondly, consider the "Side Hustle" method. This approach involves derisking the situation by starting up your idea while still working for your current employer. This strategy was popularized by Gary Vee, who reminds people that if you work for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours, that leaves 8 hours to start a side hustle and still be within your daily 24 hours. By doing this, you can test your idea in a low-risk environment while still maintaining financial stability.

In the 1920’s ‘wing walking’ became a popular form of entertainment.  In the most extreme cases, someone would walk from the wing of one plane to another, while in air flying.  Vic Norman, the father of wing walking, would encourage people “do not let go of the first wing, until you have firm grasp of the second wing.”  Side hustling following a similar mantra.  Don’t leave your first job, until your second job needs you full time.

Thirdly, the "Kickstarter Method" involves using a crowdfunding platform to launch your idea and ask for funding, rewarding contributors with your product. This is a creative way to pre-sell your product and can provide valuable market validation. ButcherBox and SmoothieBox both launched successfully on crowdfunding platforms, and the key is to have a good story that resonates with potential customers. By doing this, you'll identify early adopters that you can talk to and refine your idea based on their feedback.  If interested in this method, ButcherBox published a blog on their site offering their playbook to help others.  

Lastly, the "Traditional Method" involves conducting market research and focus groups. Market research can help you understand the market trends, competition, customer needs and preferences, and potential demand for your product or service. Use online surveys, phone interviews, and online focus groups to gather data and insights from potential customers. Develop a target customer persona to help guide your market research and focus group discussions. Recruit participants who match your target customer persona, and offer incentives such as gift cards, free product samples, or discounts to encourage participation. Conduct focus group discussions to gather feedback on your product or service concept, marketing message, pricing, packaging, and other elements that may impact customer interest and demand. Analyze the data and insights gathered from your market research and focus groups, and refine your business idea based on the feedback and insights.

In conclusion, before jumping in with full commitment and capitalization, it's important to measure twice and cut once. The "measurement" is pre-launch idea validation, and the "cutting" is launching the business. Business is hard enough with a great idea, market validation, and product/market fit, so it's crucial to take steps to reduce risk wherever possible. By using one or more of the methods outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of success and minimize the potential downside of launching a new business.


Vin McCauley lives in Ormond Beach, Florida with his wife, Elise and 4 children:  Isabella, Vincent III, Brodie & Brooklyn and 2 dogs: Rhino & Millie.  Vin was on the founding team of ButcherBox & SmoothieBox.  Vin now offers advisory, consultancy and agency services to start ups and established businesses that need help online.



Or the Chat GPT version of Vin McCauley  😳 …… 

Vin McCauley is a dynamic entrepreneur and business strategist who is passionate about helping companies grow and succeed. He currently resides in Ormond Beach, Florida with his wife Elise and their four children, Isabella, Vincent III, Brodie, and Brooklyn, along with their two beloved dogs, Rhino and Millie.

Vin has a wealth of experience in the world of start-ups and established businesses, having been on the founding team of both ButcherBox and SmoothieBox. He has a deep understanding of what it takes to build a successful brand in today's competitive market, and he is committed to sharing his expertise with others.

Today, Vin offers a range of advisory, consultancy, and agency services to businesses that need help navigating the ever-changing online landscape. He is the founder of DTC Brand Builders, a company dedicated to helping businesses achieve success in the direct-to-consumer space.

Vin is also an accomplished writer and speaker, and he regularly shares his insights on entrepreneurship, branding, and digital marketing. His personal website,, is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about his work and philosophy.

Overall, Vin McCauley is a skilled and passionate entrepreneur who is dedicated to helping businesses thrive. Whether you're launching a new start-up or looking to grow an established brand, Vin's expertise and experience make him an invaluable resource.


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