One more successful week passed, and many interesting things happened. In short, I did my first customer interview, figured out how to scale ideas comparison and learn some server configuration tricks.

Week goal

General aim that I want to achieve this week was to "Get a valuable product idea."

Ideas validation matrix

There are plenty different approaches how to generate ideas, but I could not figure out many of the ways how to range and sort already generated ideas. It is natural in the head just to think about one and another and compare them, but in fact, all these actions could be very misleading and biased.

The approach I use to solve this I called "Ideas validation matrix." It is a simple table where on the left side I have an idea, and on the top possible Pros and Cons, so the very general matrix template, it looks like this:

Ideas validation matrix template
Pros Cons Veto reason
Easy to build Have expertise Short sales cycle Hard to build Difficult legal environment Require a lot of support Reason why idea is not fit
Idea #1 9 4 6 -1 -5 -7 Hard customers
Idea #2 6 4 7 -5 -7 -1 2 sides market
Idea #2 ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

All pros and cons point just a scores from 1 to 10 and advantages generated positive number while disadvantages produce negative. After assigning each score should be summed up to get combined value for each opportunity. At this point very important to stay unbiased and evaluate product opportunity fairly in every category.

To use this technic efficiently, you have to figure out the list of Pros and Cons general enough to be somehow related to the most of the ideas and be compelling to your internal state.

This approach lets me score, range and understands more scientifically which product fit me better than another.

Customers interviews

This week I made my first semi-real customer meeting. I call it semi-real because it was an interview with the friend of mine who works in a field very close to accounting. I have two opposite opinions about this experience, and both of them represent some side of the process.

Good things about interview

From the right point of view is see following things:

  • I start learning how to make real customer interview.
  • Make my first steps on the path how to find pain points in persons day-to-day job and propose a possible solution to it.

What could be done better next time

Mistakes I made during the interview are so stupid and ridiculous, but I believe I have to share it anyway:

  • I should never again start trying to figure out something from the person without having premade list of the questions.
  • Shut up and listen, if the individual tells me his/her pain I should encourage and dig deeper rather than criticize it.
  • Take notes, always take notes, right now I even consider to learn some shorthand technics to make it even more efficient.

Learnings

Help to others

For me, it is hard to overestimate the value of the aid I got from the friend of mine who was a supportive and willing to share his experience in ideation and idea validation that he had a few years ago.

His simple desire to share the knowledge, spend few hour trying to understand what is going on in my stuff completely change my understanding of human interaction.

This small incident just a few hours of time inspire me to do the same, I quickly recall the situations where I was not so supportive and helpful to the people who were looking for my help, and now I'm going to change this.

I realize that such a small action - spent few hours to help someone could have such a huge multiplicator and became an avalanche of aid and support from one person to another

Drop more then you pick

Right now it is popular to say that idea does not matter, only execution is matter and so on but I think it is wrong. I do not want even imagine myself spending five or even more years of my life working on something that has no sense for me. And whenever I hear that idea does not matter from someone I think, maybe this is a reason why only so few startups manage to survive more than few years in a row.

Keeping this idea mind very easy to realize that it is much better to drop somehow good idea rather than start to work on bad one and waist few years of life working on something that is burning you out from the inside.

Understanding of this fundamental principle became such a relief for me and will make an impact on how I tackle everything during the challenge.

What went wrong

Product research speed

Grows in the entirely new for me field is always scary and walking in the dark without knowing the right direction or seeing the clear path is hard. Every single day I learn new tricks how to evaluate one or another idea, what is the right or what is wrong but understanding how slowly I do everything discourage me more and more.

Technically I spent three weeks trying to figure out what to do but still do not have good results. Most of the information around me imply that all good ideas came very fast and easy and this makes me feel even less able to become an entrepreneur and have got control over my destiny.

Feeling the pressure

Every every additional hour I spent on trying to figure out the other idea of tune previous one, analyze the market I feel the pressure to start writing code. I have a feeling that I do not move anywhere with this simple market analyzation, and as a regular developer just want to write code. And now writing the report desire to start writing code at least create git repo to present some progress higher than ever.

Luckily this week I had a chat with the very supportive friend of mine who even said that I do not spend enough time of figuring out the good idea, and the mistake on this stage will cost me much more in the future than few random days spent with pen and paper.

Infrastructure mess

Last Sunday I was afraid to mess up my personality with all these blog and reporting things, and impulsively deleted the blog and entire infrastructure. Luckily I did a content backup, so restoration was kind of easy but anyway I spent two evenings trying to restore everything.

Despite the unplanned workload, I found this experience very beneficial because I get a better understanding of the Nginx configuration. Technically before I preferred to use Apache web server, but this experience shows me how easy and straight forward could be to use Nginx, so most likely I'm going to use it in my future products.

As another benefit, I completely replace approach to SSL key generation for the site, before I used one of the first version of LetEncript scripts and some bash but now I switched to the more high-level abstraction called Certbot.