Product Validation – How to Validate an Invention (1 of 3)

This article, Product Validation – How to Validate an Invention (Part 1 of 3), is part of a series on how to validate your invention. We will go over things to consider before you validate your invention.

Then Part 2 of 3 on Idea Validation will go over specific ways to validate your idea. And finally Part 3 of 3 on Market Validation will go over specific ways to Validate the Market for your idea.

Learning how to validate your invention before you start building is like looking into a crystal ball that can partially tell the future. Product Validation is the literal foundation of your idea’s potential. It’s that important. But it’s also the most misunderstood.

Product Validation - How to Validate an Invention

What is Validation

Idea Validation is proving that people are willing to pay for a solution to the problem you want to solve.

Market Validation is proving that people are willing to pay for your solution to that problem.

Why should you validate your Invention?

Studies have shown that the success rate of individual inventors is roughly 4 – 5%. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. This is only considering inventors who went full steam ahead on their idea. Most inventors proceed with their idea part time and are not included in that number.

In reality, less than a fraction of a percent of the people who spend any amount of money on their invention, will “succeed”.

This abysmal success rate is actually the reason InventorGenie was started in the first place. We grew tired of seeing so many real people lose real money. And it’s so preventable. That’s why we set out to increase the Inventor’s chance of success. And that is why we consider this article, Product Validation (Part 1 of 3), to be so important. Perhaps the most important article we have ever written.

In our long careers in new product development, we have spent a great deal of time studying inventors. We study what those who succeeded did differently than those who failed, and perhaps more importantly, what those who failed did differently than those who succeeded.

From that analysis we can confidently say that inventors who fail, overwhelmingly did a poor job on the validation step.

Making validation the most important step in the idea-to-market process. If you want to succeed as an inventor, you best take this step seriously.

What does the validation step do?

Proving your assumptions:

Just because people experience the problem your invention solves, doesn’t mean they are willing to pay for a solution. And even if people are willing to pay for a solution, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing to pay for your solution.

Validation proves that people are willing to pay for not just a solution to their problem, but your solution to their problem.

It also proves that there is enough of them to justify the business that would be created around your invention. Ultimately telling you if you should proceed or not.

Customer / market feedback:

The validation step is customer centered and naturally collects various types of feedback from them.

This is a tremendous opportunity to develop what your target customer actually wants vs. what you think they want.

Though scratching your own itch is a great place to start, it is a poor place to risk your invention’s future on. Not everyone will see the problem the same way you do, let alone put as much value in your solution.

The closer your design can be to what your customer is actually willing to pay for, the greater your chance of success.

Inventions that are developed in a vacuum, rarely succeed. By involving your target customer early on, you might just iterate your idea to match actual market demand. That’s sort of the holy grail of product development. Building what people actually want.

Attracts investors and partners:

Investors generally don’t invest in ideas, but they do sometimes invest in validated ideas.

Any investor worth their merit knows that the idea itself is basically worthless. It’s the execution that is going to be the make or break in any idea.

The validation step shows investors whether there is market potential in the idea or not. If there is, they know that if properly executed, there might be a return on their investment in it for them.

By properly executing the validation step, this also shows them that you mean business. That you aren’t just some person with an idea and can’t add any other value to the equation.

It not only shows them that your idea is investable, but that you are investable as well. Investor’s don’t want to have to both put up all the money and do all the work.

Helps you avoid failure:

It’s not always the hottest topic, but most invention ideas are garbage. They should never be pursued. That is just the cold hard truth.

By performing the validation step you quite possibly will learn that your idea isn’t worth pursuing. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad idea, it might just mean the market isn’t big enough to justify the business.

Quite often, the smartest thing you could ever do with your invention idea is to not pursue it.

If pursuing an invention idea were inexpensive and not particularly time consuming, then the risk of failure might not matter much. But inventing is costly and time consuming.

The invention success rate is as low as it is because inventor’s so often pursue ideas they shouldn’t. If every inventor performed the validation step properly, the rate of success for inventors as a whole would skyrocket overnight.

What makes for a good invention idea?

Though there are always exceptions to the rule, these are some of the factors that successful inventors often get right. In addition to a properly validated idea that is.

Point of Difference:

Your invention is purely the point of difference between your idea and existing products on the market.
Successful inventors understand that it is that point of difference that matters.

If your invention combines two existing products into one, your invention is neither of those products, it is purely the fact that they are combined. If your invention adds a new twist to an old product, then your invention is purely that new twist.

This is important because those existing products are competition. You may have a technical advantage over them, but they often have a brand recognition advantage over you. Or some other advantage that you won’t have starting out with likely a small marketing budget.

Inventions where that point of difference alone is strong enough to stand its ground in the market place as a selling point, those are the inventions that have a greater chance of success.

Though Inventions that combine two existing products do sometimes sell, sometimes just selling doesn’t sustain the business. It might need to sell exception well to compete. Which is are with inventions that combine two existing products, or are only a slight twist.

Improved Solution:

Your idea should solve a problem better than other solutions out there. Though that can mean different things to different segments, the best inventions are usually either a less expensive way or a faster way of doing something they were already doing.

These are not rules of thumb though, as saving a little time isn’t always something people value in all cases enough to choose your product over another. As well as something being a little or even a lot cheaper, isn’t always where the value is in that market.

Inventors who succeed, really understand what their target customers actually want. The best way to do that is to talk to them early as part of the Validation process. This is where a lot of inventors go wrong. Being better at something doesn’t always mean there is a big enough market for your solution.

Why that is important is that you have competition, whether you realize it or not. There are other ways to address the problem your idea solves.

Many times the current solution is to do nothing at all, or just struggle through it. The point is, just because your idea solves their problem, doesn’t mean they care enough to part ways with their money for that solution.
Also, what isn’t always a good invention is one where it solves a problem people don’t realize they even had. If they don’t know they have the problem, they certainly aren’t looking for a solution to buy.

Product Validation - How to Validate an Invention

Further learning:

In addition to this article, Product Validation (Part 1 of 3), there are a couple excellent books that are a great place to start.

One is called “The Right It” by Alberto Savoia and another called “The Mom Test” by Robert Fitzpatrick.

These are must reads for any Inventor or just any Entrepreneur in general. We also strongly suggest “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries as the entrepreneur’s bible.


If there was one step in the idea-to-market process to really focus on, it would be Product Validation. It’s also worth repeating that you should perform this step as early in the process as possible. Certainly before you spend any real money on your idea.

This article, Product Validation (Part 1 of 3), is part of a larger series on Validation. Please be sure to follow this up with also reading Idea Validate and Market Validate.

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