Use Kickstarter to Validate Your Million-Dollar Idea

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If I asked you if you consider yourself successful, what would you say? Better yet, how do you measure success?

One way most people measure it is by the results they get in life. Some even calculate it by the amount of money they make. Regardless of your barometer, would you not agree that before you embark on any endeavor, it would be beneficial to weigh the pros and cons. When you do so, you are, in effect, validating the idea before moving forward. This validation is key. 

When most people think of Kickstarter, one of the world's largest crowdfunding platforms for creative products, they think about using it in very concrete terms: An entrepreneur has a tangible product, taps this platform and raises the capital needed. But Nick Walter used it as a market validation tool. 

By creating a Kickstarter campaign for his course, "How to Make a Freaking iPhone App," not only did he boost sales by preselling his $199 course for $29, $39 and $49. He also learned there was a huge demand for a product that he was still in the process of creating. 

Could you apply this strategy to your business?  

Many entrepreneurs dream of creating an app or have a great idea for one. Walter wanted to create a course that would not only teach entrepreneurs how to do just that but he did it in a way that beginners with no programming experience would feel comfortable. 

In your business, could you also presell a course or class? 

According to Dane Maxwell of The Foundation, preselling is simply partnering with someone who has a problem and coming up with a solution to fix it. The Foundation offers a six-month online program about starting a software business from nothing. A participant doesn’t have to already have an idea, coding skills or funding. In Maxwell's course, he teaches six fundamentals to help students presell what they have come up with before they even have a product. 

Maxwell is so adamant about the process that if people are caught building a product before they score presells, they'll be kicked out of the course, according to the website. He believes it's self-sabotage to create a product before someone has first purchased it.

Develop the same approach. Don’t create a product or service without proper validation. In this instance, the validation comes from the  money received in advance of the product's creation. Another way to look at preselling is simply as collecting money before building the product or course. 

Related: 9 Entrepreneurs Reveal How They Validated Their Business Idea

So what is the problem your audience or industry faces? How can you effectively partner wtih others and provide the solution or presell to your industry? 

Remember Walter did not raise money for a tangible product like an iPhone case or a camera. He sold his intellectual property: his upcoming class. 

What classes or courses could you create?

What are your audience’s pain points and could you provide the solution? 

The key is to leverage Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms to see if there's interest in an upcoming product before diving into making it. If you get lots of signups on Kickstarter, then you will  have validated your potential million-dollar idea. A successful campaign demonstrates proof of demand. With it, you can move full steam ahead. 

You could copy Walter by doing the following: 

Related: Start Before You're Ready, Really

1. Act fast on an opportunity.

Walter also saw a need for a class on making iPhone apps with Apple’s new Swift programming language, so he jumped on it. How fast are you willing to act? 

2. Don't wait to realize perfection but dive in.

Many entrepreneurs wait and wait until everything is ideal before sending their product out into the world -- if they ever do. Walter did not wait. He learned Apple Swift and promptly launched his offering. Will you wait or create? 

3. Believe in the vision.

Everyone has doubts about his or her abilities. But Walter did not let this stop him. He forged ahead and look at where he is today. You can be next Kickstarter success. As Oprah said, “You become what you believe.”

4.  Don't sell stuff. Fix a problem.

Focus on solving a problem your audience is facing rather than creating something you think people want. Survey your audience and ask people the three areas they want most help in and go about solving them.

The way Nick Walter and others began teaching online has captivated my attention. I'll be sharing my ideas about how you can do the same in an upcoming course "Teach Online: How to Create Side Hustle Income Leveraging Your Existing Skills."

Related: Validate Your Business Idea -- Quickly -- With These 5 Steps