The truth is: you can’t. We never really know whether our product is going to be welcomed by the market nor do we know whether anyone will be willing to pay for it (whether this be by actually buying the product or giving us the traffic we need to sell to advertisers).
What is certain, however, is that we can create a couple of ways to greater our chances of producing something worth producing. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, describes this as developing a minimum viable product. This is basically a beta version of you product. It’s built to serve as an experiment so as to prove (or disprove) some of your most important assumptions.
Instead of following the old model which meant that one would have to create boring and lengthly questionnaires that no one wants to answer, you create a beta product to test whether (for example): There is an inherent problem (as this should be the focus of any startup- to solve a problem)? Whether the problem is worth finding a solution for? And also whether your solution to this problem is indeed adequate enough for the market. So you release an “unfinished product” that basically conveys what you’re essentially trying to achieve through your product. You release this product to your market and design it so that they understand the product well enough to be able to give you valuable feedback on it- thus proving or disproving your assumptions. Of course, who you release this product to is also very important. Guy Kawasaki once said that the best “testing agents” would be women as they, normally, give truthful and constructive criticism and are generally open to helping you out and trying your product.
That’s what we’re doing this week. Audio Skillz will be spending the whole week meeting as many women (within our market) as he possibly can and trying to understand their specific needs and thus confirm or throw away some of our assumptions. The last thing you want to do is spend $100 000 developing a product that no one wants or likes.