Why You Should Validate All Your Product Ideas

Cartoon light bulb

Years ago, I was running the communications division of Maxim Integrated Products. We were the dominant player in what were known as single supply RS-232 transceivers with over 80% market share.

We had built the business up to over $100M/year in revenue, and our success was attracting a lot of attention. We had 14 direct competitors, many of whom were much larger companies, including Analog Devices, National Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments.

ADI, TI, and National were executing a classic follower strategy. These larger competitors were always one step behind us. Most of what we introduced to the market, they would introduce a copycat product one year later.

Sometimes I was left scratching my head about our competitors decision making because sometimes they would introduce copycats of our unsuccessful products.


I would ask myself, “Why are they second-sourcing ‘that’ product?” It just made no sense. Our product was a failure.

We had a made a mistake. We thought we had developed something the market needed, but we were wrong.

Yet there they were, just blindly following us.


That’s why you don’t let your competitors validate your ideas for you.


I am certain that ADI, TI, and National sold nothing when they just blindly followed us. And these were big, established companies.

These mistakes weren't cheap mistakes by the way.  Each new product development of a new integrated circuits can cost well over $1M.


What makes you think that your small startup can just blindly follow your competitors?


The answer is you can’t.

Just because Facebook has validated the market for social networks doesn’t mean that your social network is going to be successful. Yes, Facebook validated the market for social networks, but your product, you have to do that yourself.

The bottom line is blindly following the leader gets you in trouble.


So, how do you validate your ideas? Any way you can.


Getting customers to pay for what you’re doing is always the best way to go. However, that isn’t always feasible.

For example, in our case when you’re developing integrated circuits the costs are just way too high (think millions) to get customers to pay. So we did the next best thing.

Part of our initial strategy was developing second sources of our competitors products (just like ADI, TI, and National did with Maxim years ago), but we were able to validate the demand for our products. We used the connections we had to validate the demand through major contract manufacturers like Flextronics and the customers they were building for.

What will work to validate the demand for your products? Use your creativity like we did.

For more, read: What Are The Keys To Successful Minimum Viable Products?


Do You Want To Grow Your Business?  Maybe I Can Help.  Click Here.


Picture: Depositphotos