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AskTina: Failed to Validate the Idea

AskTina was a live video chat widget for experts to install on their blogs. They did not spend enough time validating the idea through customer interviews before investing in building the MVP.

United Kingdom
Web Application
No MVP Validation

Tom Hunt

March 17, 2018

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Hello Tom! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

I studied Chemistry then worked as a management consultant to E&Y and Accenture before jumping into the startup world.

I built and sold online marketplace Virtual Valley in 2016 and since how built and launched two SAAS products.

 

What was AskTina about?

AskTina was a live video chat widget for experts to install on their blogs and allow their readers to place live, pay per minute calls to their mobile phones through the AskTina app.

We built an MVP, had 35 Experts install it on their blog and with 10,000 page loads of the widget, we had 0 paid calls placed through the software.

This was the objective data we needed to make the judgment to kill the project. Ideally, we could have discovered this before we spent 6 months working on AskTina by interviewing the readers of specific blogs.

How did you grow AskTina?

We used a combination of SEO, content, social media and paid.

I challenged myself to grow the AskTina blog from 0-10k sessions per month and NEARLY got there in 4 months, I outline all the strategies used here and here.

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Which was the problem with AskTina? How did you realize?

People simply did not want to place paid, live video calls to experts that they followed. People were happy with asynchronous communication through consuming written or video content.

What were the mistakes you made?

We did not spend enough time validating the idea through customer interviews before investing in building the MVP.

This meant that with every day we spent building the tool we were increasing the likelihood of confirmation bias (this is the right thing to do because we are doing it), this ultimately lead us to spending too many resources on what was ultimately a poor business idea.

What were your biggest disadvantages?

We were inexperienced startup founders.

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If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

Start delivering a product or service without technology… this validates demand and only then can technology be used to drive efficiency, leading to greater margin.

 

What's your advice for someone who is just starting?

Start delivering your product or service, and take ca$h… without technology to validate demand ;)

 

Where can we go to learn more?

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