AI Startup Blueprint

1.Importance of Validation

Validate your idea as quickly as possible to raise funds.
Aside from actual payment from customers, the best form of validation is obtaining written, but at the very least verbal Letters of Intent (LOIs) from potential customers.
Having customers significantly changes the conversation with investors, reducing their doubts and focusing on what you have accomplished rather than hypotheticals.
It is much harder to back up hypothetical situations without metrics or tangible evidence.
Having your customers will provide you with the hard evidence you need in your conversations with VCs.

2.Methods of Validation

Best form of validation is going to potential customers, getting verbal LOIs (letters of intent) minimally they don’t need to be formal)
LOIs are much more powerful than > WOM (word of mouth)
Other ways to validate your idea include:
Assessing competitors in the market:
Pros: If there are competitors this means there is a market for you .Competitors validate the existence of a market for your product.
Cons: they are your competitors, but also every market has competitors
You need to find out how big is the market? You need to understand this market very well if there are competitors, so you can provide a better version of what they offer!
Asking VCs directly:
Ask them straight up- “what would you invest in?”
Inquire about what types of ideas or startups they would invest in.
Their responses can provide valuable insights into market demand.
They know the spaces they are looking to invest in.
Example: “This company I worked with were not having good traction and having a difficult time getting funding, then they asked the VC these question and now their company is worth $15-20 million!
Seek guidance from accelerators like Y Combinator (YC): YC and similar accelerators specify what types of startups they are willing to fund, indicating viable business opportunities.

3. Understanding Customer Needs

Ask potential customers if they would be willing to pay for your solution.
“Would you pay for this”?
“What do you want functionality wise?”
Gather feedback on desired functionalities and features to align your product with customer expectations.
Sell customers on the future potential of your product while dialing back to the Minimum Sellable Product (MSP) that meets their immediate needs.

4.Ways to Find Potential Customers

Your Current Network/Networking:
Leverage your personal and professional network.
Attend industry events and join relevant groups.
Paying For Leads:
Can find marketing and sales specialists on Upwork and Fivrr who have already done all of the work for you. The will send you emails and contact numbers of hundreds or thousands of potential customers you can reach out to.
Online Presence:
Optimize your website and content for search engines.
Engage with your target audience through valuable content.
Customer Referrals:
Encourage satisfied customers to refer your product.
Offer incentives for successful referrals.
Partnerships and Alliances:
Identify complementary businesses and explore partnerships.
Cold Outreach:
Conduct targeted email campaigns and cold calling.
Personalize your messages to address pain points.
Industry Influencers and Thought Leaders:
Engage with influential individuals in your industry.
Share their content and build relationships.
Customer Surveys and Feedback:
Collect insights from existing customers.
Use feedback to identify potential customer segments.

5.Building the Product

After securing verbal LOIs at minimum, proceed to build your product.
Building before acquiring customer interest can result in a product with no market demand.
Don’t build a product and then try to get customers because this often times ends up in a product no one wants to buy. It is so much easier doing it the other way around!


Action Items

Create a list of as many potential customers as you can think of. Write down their company, names, emails, phone numbers, and job titles.
Conduct customer interviews and gather feedback on your idea. Seek verbal Letters of Intent (LOIs) from potential customers to validate demand and willingness to pay. Use the below ChatGPT Prompt to formulate well written cold outreach emails that will lead you to initial conversations and potential customers.
Use the form below to create your personalized survey for your customers. It is already preloaded with great questions you can use to ask them, but feel free to add in and customize it as you see fit for your startup idea. Also check out more great questions you can use in the bonus section here:
Use the letter of intent template in the bonus section to secure your LOIs!

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ChatGPT Prompt for Cold Outreach Emails

You are an expert cold email writer to prospective customers. I am reaching out to [describe ideal customer profile] to sell them [describe product in detail]. It solves [describe the problem it solves for the ICP]. I already have [describe customers you have that are in the same ICP]. Please give me the most compelling email you can write to them that will get them to ask for a demo after reading it.
Customer Interviews
Are you open to providing feedback and potentially exploring a partnership?
Please describe the biggest challenge or problem you are currently facing in your industry or business?
What are specific pain points you are experiencing and what is the impact it has on your operations?
Do you see value in our product/solution and would you be interested in using it?
What potential impact do you think our solution could have on your business or industry?
Would be willing to pay to use our product at the offered price point?
Would you be open to providing a formal Letter of Intent (LOI) to indicate your commitment to using this product once it is ready?
Would you be open to scheduling a follow-up meeting or discussion to further explore this potential partnership?
Do you have any other questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything we talked about?
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