How Do You Know if Your Innovative Idea Is Any Good?

How Do You Know if Your Innovative Idea Is Any Good?

Go out and test your ideas with real customers. It’s easier than you think.

This is our second of four interview questions for Dr. Jeffrey Stamp. Dr. Stamp is the creator of Baked! Lays Potato Chips for PepsiCo’s snack division, Frito Lay, and leader of seven successful startups. Dr. Stamp helps entrepreneurs and students worldwide awaken their untapped creative abilities and accelerate discovery thinking.

We are looking forward to seeing Dr. Stamp in action at Thinkfest on September 28, 2016, when nearly 200 students from our network of high schools will join him for a day of creativity and innovation at John Carroll University.

JeffStampVeale Forum: Here is our second question for you, Dr. Stamp. How do you know if your innovative idea is any good?

Stamp: This is a great question. Here’s a hint, don’t ask your parents or your friends. They will always love your ideas, but they are biased. Use them as emotional support and encouragement, but not as a gauge on the market potential for your idea. What I have my students do is try and create a prototype of the idea. This can be as easy as creating a one-page written description of how the idea works and how it will be used by a customer to building a working model. After that, go out and test it with real customers.

This is easier than you might think. One of my favorite examples is from one of my students who created an innovative hanger solution to hang wet clothes in a gym locker so they dried out better and didn’t smell as much! A gym locker is a tight, cramped space and a traditional hanger doesn’t fit, so how would you hang up multiple items? This is a real problem. My student’s innovation was a specially designed hanger that also could be stacked to hang multiple items. She made a prototype by using a plastic tube kit from a craft store and a glue gun. She took it to her former high school and asked the principal if she could show it to the gym teacher and students.

After a simple demonstration, she was surprised to get orders for her new hanger system right there on the spot. She went from being one of countless people who have an idea to being an entrepreneur with a product that meets customer need and has a market. The lesson here is that you need to hear from real customers that they like your idea. They are the only ones who matter, because they will pay you for your ideas.

Looking for more information on validating your business ideas? Look, here.

More About Dr. Jeffrey Stamp
Dr. Stamp was awarded the prestigious student-nominated Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Award from the Acton Foundation. He has loaned his talents to Eureka! Ranch and University of North Dakota, where was a chaired assistant professor of entrepreneurship. He conducts workshops worldwide. A learning session with Dr. Stamp is a thrill ride for your brain!

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