Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

GEIR Blog Series: Rapidly Testing your Startup Idea as a Student

Joe Zhou

The following is a blog post from Joe Zhou. Joe is the founder & CEO of firstblood and a Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) at Babson College. This is the first in a series of posts by Babson’s GEIRs where they will share lessons and tips from their experience as startup founders. 

As a GEIR at Babson, Joe is available to advise students on their startups, speak to student groups and more. Please reach out to Joe at Joe(at) 

One of the common mistakes that first-time entrepreneurs make is to try to build out a product that fits 100% of their vision. What does that really mean? Let’s say your vision is to build the best lemonade stand in the entire city. But, instead of focusing the actual part of the product that customers pay money for — lemonade— you become obsessed with the packaging of the drink, the design of the stand, payment vendors and check out experience.

Limited Resources Means Focus

Startups typically have very limited resources, especially in the early days, and focusing on wrong priority can result in a delay in finding product market fit. This ultimately burdens the company’s ability to grow and become profitable. This is especially true for startup founders who are still in school. With workload from projects and classes, student founders are left with even less time for their start up ideas.

Rapid Idea Test

How exactly do you test whether your idea is viable as a student founder? The answer is simple; what is the quickest way to get from location A to location B? Whether you are running, walking or using a vehicle, you would pick whichever option is cheapest, fastest and most efficient. The same principle applies to startup founders. It is about finding a cheap, quick, and efficient way to build a MINIMUM set of features that ACTUALLY solve customers’ problems that they are willing to PAY money for.

Building A Test

The structure of the test will vary since it will likely to be dependent upon type of the product. However, generally the first step should always be to talk to your potential customers. By talking to them, you will have a better understanding of their problems and how serious these problems are. The second step should be to build out a feature set that solves the biggest problem on the list. Finally, figure out how to distribute the solution to the customers in need via channels that you identify.

Implementing A Test

Implementing a test could be the most disappointing and/or the most exciting part of this process! In order to get a feeling on whether the idea is working, you will need to set up a way to track user activity such as total visits, activations, retention, conversion and referrals. If you are building a web app, an easy hack for tracking stats is to set up all the proper tracking to your application UI and use Google Analytics (GA)[1] to see what happens. I will cover in detail how a test should be properly implemented and analyzed in the next blog post.

[1] Tutorial on how to use event tags to track detailed data: