Chapter 2. Idea Validation and Community Engagement

One of the challenges of writing a book about how to start a hardware startup is that there isn’t one best path to follow on the road to success. Therefore, each chapter in this book is designed to be a standalone introduction to a particular field of focus that is crucial for a hardware company’s success. For instance, some founders will find that refining their prototypes early on makes the most sense. Other teams, particularly those in business-to-consumer (B2C) consumer electronics, will have to prioritize building a brand.

However, regardless of what sector you’re building in, or what market you are targeting, idea validation is a necessity.

The process of founding a software startup was revolutionized by the introduction of the Lean Startup framework in the mid-2000s. Popularized by entrepreneurs Eric Ries and Steve Blank, the Lean methodology teaches founders to connect with potential customers and fully understand their needs before writing a single line of code. Blank used the expertise he gained founding eight startups to create and refine the Customer Development methodology, an approach to product development that focuses heavily on understanding the needs of the consumer.

Ries incorporated the Customer Development methodology into the Lean Startup framework. The build-measure-learn feedback loop (shown in Figure 2-1) illustrates the development cycle of a lean startup. The process relies on experimentation, iterative ...

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