Market Validation – How to Validate an Invention (3 of 3)

This article, Market Validation – How to Validate an invention (Part 3 of 3), is part of a series on how to Validate your invention. If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage you read the first two parts of this series. Product Validation (Part 1 of 3) and Idea Validation (Part 2 of 3). They will give you much needed context before you read this article.

What is Market Validation?

As mentioned in the previous posts, there is Idea Validation and Market Validation. In this article, we are focusing on Market Validation.

Market Validation is proving that enough people are willing to pay for your specific product to justify the business that would be developed around that product. It’s proving your product has true market potential before you put full investment into it.

The idea is to give people the opportunity to actually pay for your product, even if the product isn’t available yet. If enough people do, then you might be on to something.

But if you are wrong about the market, and they aren’t actually willing to pay for your solution, then that is extremely valuable information to have. Particularly before you spend all the time and money developing the idea into a product.

Just like Idea Validation, Market Validation also absolutely requires you communicate and involve your target customer. Only for this step, you have to show them your idea.

How big is the market?

If people love your idea and are willing to fork over money for it, how many people?

How big is your target market and what is the profit potential of that market. It’s extremely common for Inventors to invent even a great solution, that is only relevant to a small number of potential customers.

Small market potential still could be worth pursuing, you just must make absolutely sure to keep your time and money investment low. You also have to have a very solid value proposition and marketing plan to reach those customers.

Inventors who bring a product to market in a small market, often work very hard for a long time to make very little money. But inventors who find a way to bring their idea to market quickly for little investment can make a very decent supplement to their income. And potentially be the start of something great in the niche as a whole.

It’s all about catering your time and money investment according to the market potential of the idea. That all comes with Market Research, and is a discussion for another day.

How do you sell a product that doesn’t exist yet?

Honestly, one size does not fit all, and there are just too many potential paths for this to list them here and not be a book in itself. Much of which wouldn’t apply to everyone anyway and their specific idea.

This is one area we strongly suggest you hire an Invention Consultant. Not to validate your idea, as no one can do that but your target market. But to brainstorm ideas on how to potentially validate your specific idea’s market.

We also strongly suggest you read the book “The Right It” by Alberto Savoia. There is no greater authority on validating the market for an idea than Mr. Savoia.

But here are some things to consider:

Do you need a Prototype?

You then generally start with a prototype. But please understand that there are many different kinds of prototypes. Read our post on how to build a Prototype to help you decide what kind of prototype is right for you in your Validation efforts.

But in this context of Market Validation, you will be better off if you can actually develop a prototype that you can sell. It absolutely does not have to be perfect and can be rough.

This can be something you make in your basement by hand, or even have a friend 3D print. As long as it does the job it needs to do, it can work.

This allows you to have something that can actually start bringing in revenue. But it can also start the ball rolling on getting actual feedback from your target customer. Which can be incredibly valuable. Remember, you want to build what your target customer actually wants, not what you think they want. Feedback at this stage makes it a lot easier to iterate and change the design as needed. This will significantly increase your chances of eventually reaching product market fit.

How do you validate the market for an invention in person? There are many ways to do this, here is just one of them that has a proven track record.

How to Validate in Public

One of the most effective ways to validate in person is to go to the stores your target customer shops at. Then hang outside in the parking lot with whatever type of prototype you decide you need to validate your idea.

Then you want to flag people down in the parking lot and ask them for 2 minutes of their time for their quick opinion on your invention idea. A lot of Validating a product involves asking questions that you don’t necessarily want the answer too, only because it will expose the true answer you are looking for.

Here are some tactics that tend to get more people to say ‘yes’.

Low commitment from them

Don’t say any more than 2 minutes because people are more likely to stop and listen. People are busy and don’t want to be held up from their day for very long.

If you find yourself taking more than 2 minutes, that is generally ok as long as you keep their interest.

Though you might want to rework your pitch to take less time. If it takes more than 2 minutes, you start losing people’s interest.

Spark their interest

Mention up front it’s about an invention idea. Inventions mean innovation, something they might not know about.

People like thinking their opinion is valuable, and like being in on something new. It makes them feel smart to even be asked about such a thing.
Make sure you say you are asking for their opinion. Their ‘Opinion’ isn’t actually what you want because that isn’t Validation.

But people love giving their opinion on things, so asking for that will increase the chance that they stop to hear what you have to say.

Connect with them

We find it’s usually best not to mention the product when you are asking for their time. You want to really avoid making it sound like have a sales pitch for them. People tend to avoid talking to people they think are going to try to sell something to them.

Instead, look for ways to connect on a personal level. You might compliment their shirt as the ice breaker. Or you might notice a competing or even just roughly related product in their shopping cart. That can be a real ice breaker.

There is also a good chance they have had an invention idea themselves at some point in their life. Being asked about your invention idea will bring their mind to their own idea, and likely in a positive way. You might also somehow make it sound like you would like to hear their invention idea if they have one.

Market Validation - How to Validate an Invention

Then get right to it and be as quick as you can to get to the point. There are three main parts of this pitch.

Describe the problem

Try to make this as relatable as possible. Don’t so much describe the unique reason you had the problem, but maybe a reason they are personally likely to have had the problem themselves.

Remember, it’s not your problem you need to solve, it is theirs. And it’s important that they have an example in mind of when they had the problem themselves.

Though you don’t necessarily want to ask them if they also have the same problem, as the answer could be ‘no’. A ‘no’ can shut down their brain and make it so you don’t get any valuable information from them. You will find out the answer in this process anyway, don’t waste their first ‘no’ before you even get to the solution.

Describe your solution

Then get right to your solution. Show them the prototype and tell them how your invention solves that problem.

Demonstrate how it works if you can, then have them try it. Don’t let them try it first unless there is no way they can get it wrong. If they fail trying it, that can really effect their perception of it. There will be time later for figuring out usability. You just want them to see what your solution is.

The fake ask

Now is when you ask them about their “Opinion”. Though as mentioned above, it’s not actually their opinion that you want.

You might also ask, if there are any changes you should make or features you should add. Definitely take note of these suggestions, but don’t jump right into making them.

The real ask

Especially if their “Opinion” was positive, you can ask them, if this were on the shelf in the store behind you, would you buy it?

Normally, that’s a really bad question in itself, but here we are teeing them up for the actual Market Validation.

If they say they probably wood, now is when you switch to Market Validation mode.

Tell them that you have another one in your car that you could sell them on the spot, asking if they want you to go get if for them? Motion back to your car and see what they say.

If they agree

You are on the right track. If you actually do have another prototype with you, you can sell it. That’s Market Validation. That’s people willing to part ways with their money for your idea. If you don’t have any to sell, then you can just be honest with them. Tell them you just needed to know if people would buy them. That’s how you know to put the time and money into making them. They will understand as long as you show how much you appreciate them. Tell them they just made their day.

If they stop you or say no.

Then that really tells you what you needed to hear as well. It’s always an interesting experiment seeing people who said they would buy it, now telling you why they aren’t going too. This is actually the entire premise behind the second part of this series on Idea Validation and why you don’t just ask people their opinion. They often lie. By Validating the Market in this way however, you prove whether they were just being nice or were really interested.

How to Validate Online

Pay close attention above to the difference in positive feedback and actual validation. One is words with no commitment, the other is people willing to part ways with their money.

This phenomenon makes validating online in places like groups and forums very be difficult. In reality, you use forums, groups, comment sections as a place to reach your target customer to talk to them, not to actually validate the idea. You use these platforms to collect people that you can then direct to where you want to get their validation.

This does not include mailing lists. Though it’s great to get people signed up for mailing lists, there still isn’t that commitment. A mailing list is how you collect false positives. You still have to figure out how to get them to commit to buy. To do that, you need to communicate with these people in a way that directs them to where they can commit. Use them to drive traffic.

Here are a few ways to give them a way to commit.


Create a simple ecommerce landing page with a buy now button that takes them to a page where they first enter their contact information. Even if you don’t actually have any to sell. Once they enter their contact info and then press “Proceed to Checkout”, you can have it say “Sorry, we are out of stock”.

Though if your product is simple enough to be able to obtain even prototypes for relatively low price, you absolutely can and should actually sell those first units. Either way, if someone was interested in actually going through with buying on your website, that is a really good sign for Market Validation. And now you have their email to reach out too later if you end up turning your idea into an actual product for sale.


You can also start some sort of crowdfunding campaign or otherwise presell. It might not be the best idea to go through the full process of creating and running a full fledged crowdfunding campaign, but that is an option.

Otherwise you can just make your website do this too. Describe what you are making and be honest it isn’t created yet. If people are willing to give you money for something that doesn’t exist yet, that is solid Market Validation.

The point is that you are meeting your target market on groups, forums and comments to drive traffic to whatever method you use to get their commitment.


This article, Market Validation (Part 3 of 3), is part of a larger series on Validation. If you haven’t already, please be sure to also read the first two parts of this series on Product Validation (Part 1 of 3) and Idea Validation (Part 2 of 3).

We also like to recommend “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. This book is often refereed too as the business startup Bible. It very much encompasses the idea of Validation before significant investment. Something that is as true for Inventing as it is for business startups. 

Invention Consultants We Recommend

.site-header-cart .cart-contents {display:none;}