Where to distribute survey to prove idea viability?


I tried Mturk but not enough willing participants in english speaking countries.

And what are some questions I can ask to validate market?

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asked Mar 6 '11 at 08:39
141 points

3 Answers


If you're not having luck online, I'd start doing personal interviews.

If you're targeting a specific industry, you can go to trade shows, local Meetup groups, or Internet Yellowpages sites to contact people in that industry.

If its a great idea, you may want to consider how you can protect your intellectual property while you develop the concept. Asking people online with surveys is a little bit risky, so if you decide to ask people online, think about how you can word the questions so that they don't give away too much of your "special sauce", if possible. Can you separate "what" your product does from "how" it does it?


  • Could you use a product that did...?
  • How often would you use this?
  • How will this make your life easier?
  • What features would you like to see in something like this?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for a product that did this?
  • Why is this a good idea?
  • Why is this a bad idea?
  • Would you be willing to be involved in the early stage testing of this product?
  • Would you be willing to pay for this with an upfront fee, monthly payments, or would it have to be free for you to use it?
  • Why would you not want a product like this?
  • Do you have any friends that might need this?
  • How should we tell people about this?

Unfortunately, although surveys are a helpful exercise, it's very difficult for a survey to actually prove idea viability. This is because, in order for your survey to truly be valid, you have to have a statistically valid sample size that is representative of your population parameter. This means that unless you get enough survey respondents, your survey may not accurately reflect your target market. It's often difficult to achieve the level of response needed to do this, but I think its a good thing to learn more about statistics. Here is a little introduction to what I'm talking about.

Along these lines, you can use a Sample Size Calculator that will tell you how many surveys you need in order for your survey to be statistically valid.

Perhaps you can tap into some surveys that other people have already done on the market research side? They will likely have much larger sample sizes and therefore, would be more statistically valid. IBISWorld publishes some excellent industry research reports, and some libraries and universities have free access to IBISWorld. Also, I recommend checking out the book, Consumer USA, which has tons of amazing information about consumer buying trends each year. Good libraries should have that book available.

But, the most important thing to remember is that you can't truly prove idea viability until you have:

  • A minimum viable product
  • A pricing strategy that works
  • Distribution channels that can send you clients in sufficient quantity, at a cost to acquire customer that can be recouped.

Best wishes!

answered Mar 6 '11 at 09:28
Aaron Gray
386 points


I think it depends a lot on what the idea is. If this is software related - I can only presume you are thinking of building software that does {blank}. Where {blank} is not only a concept, but a solution to a specific problem.

e.g. "I want to make an application that organizes all of your critical business client contacts in one central location... with built-in reminders to reach out and contact each client on a regular basis so they don't feel like a number."

Based on this, you can work the reverse angle... if I believe that there is a problem with companies/account managers keeping good rapport with clients - then I would expect that Googling for mentions of people looking for solutions and or complaining about the problem would be easy to find... and volume of results will be an indicator of interest. At the same time if there is competing software out there that solves the problem you'll be able to decide if you think you can do it better, or try solving a different problem.

A related option... is that if you do start to build "the killer app" for the market you're targeting... you can build a "teaser" signup site (with just enough info to inspire your target audience), allowing users to signup to be informed when you are launching your app.

If the signups start trickling in and momentum grows... keep building and get that app shipped! If however you get nothing but tumbleweeds... maybe its time to go back to the drawing board.

Finally, if you do make the teaser site... when a user signs up... consider sending an acknowledgment email back... "Thanks for your interest in blah, blah, blah... we're working as fast as we can to finalize {ultra app name}, however we'd like to make sure it is the best {thing that it does} out there. If there is a feature that you think {ultra app name} should really have we'd love to hear about it!" including a link to your uber-simple feedback form/survey. The advice may not always be stellar, but it will likely be very candid and include the major pain points that future-users will want solved. Adopt the features that seem most important to users if you can.

answered Mar 7 '11 at 00:41
310 points


Here is what I've done and it has worked: Find a forum for your industry (every industry has one), create a Wufoo form, and ask them to fill out the survey.

You could try to figure out some sort of motivator (content, gift card, etc) to try to entice your potential customers to help you.

answered Mar 7 '11 at 09:45
Andy Cook
2,309 points

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