12 MAY .16 Reverse Engineering your Startup Idea For every five startups that we hear about, chances are only one of them will really take off. If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug, but don’t know where to begin, you have found our guide at just the right time. Here is what you need to make sure your startup idea is bulletproof. 1. Mind, Map and Keys This is the stage that every brainstorm session worth its salt must go through – throwing out as many words as possible that you think will mean something to your startup. For example, if you want to develop an app that curates healthy, organic recipes from independent chefs in Malaysia, it’s good to think about keywords that you’d want your audience to associate your app with, like: accessible, user-friendly, informative, interactive and so on. There’s no limit to the number of keywords you can think of – just be sure to not spend your whole thought process on this stage! Once you have settled on the keywords, start dividing them into groups, and narrowing the groups down to about 3 to 4. 2. What’s the Problem? With your keywords, you can start writing a problem statement. A good example (based off the app idea we imagined in Step 1) is: There is a lack of Malaysia-based apps that act as a reliable outlet for people to find healthy, organic recipes. The problem statement can provide a clear and concise idea of what you’re working on, which is why there should only be one. Remember that your startup can do many things, but most of these things should be considered features, not solutions. These features are all driving towards the one ultimate goal, which is the solution that your startup represents. 3. Market to the Right Market To refine your startup, know which target audience you are zoning in on. When you know what your target audience is, you can begin to analyze the characteristics of its members, and design your startup in a way that corresponds with their train of thought, needs and wants. Alternatively, you could also investigate the problems faced by your target audience, and work out solutions from there that could be the foundation of your startup. To analyze your audience, reading articles from websites which are the authority in their respective industries is a comfortable place to start. Going back to the app we mentioned earlier as an example, you could start looking to health websites based in Malaysia that are either standalone or offshoots from magazines. From here, you can gather user feedback as well as monitor trends that might become useful for your app in future. 4. Put a Brand On It You want your target audience to remember your startup, and for that to happen, they must have a solid brand to remember it by. To determine your brand, you’ll have to remember that it is the identity of your startup. It should encapsulate both your personality (and your co-founders’, if there are any) and the solution that your startup represents. At this point, case studies will come in real handy. Look up case studies of companies with successful brandings, and take a look at all the elements that define the brand for the public, such as the logo, slogan and colours. Eventually, you will detect a formula that connects some of the most successful companies in the world, and from there you can apply the formula to yours while merging it with your own personality. After all, at the end of the day your startup should still be distinctive and easily recognisable as its own brand. 5. Testing, Testing Nothing could be a better litmus test for the potential of your startup than test-driving it among actual people. Gather your most trusted family members and friends, and get them to contribute feedback on your startup, or at least the idea and features, if the whole package isn’t available yet. If you have a prototype for them to test out, that’s even better as they can then determine whether there are any hiccups in the navigation or layout. Give them free rein to perform stress tests on the startup by encouraging them to use it in as many ways and for as long as possible. If your family and friends are willing, you could use their contacts as a means to launch into a wider test audience by asking them to share the prototype with their own friends to test. When it comes to a new idea, there can never be enough input. During this stage, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and accept constructive criticism readily as it comes.