Testing the Prototype

Validate Your App: Testing the Prototype

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey and John Rake, Founder of GorillaBot Labs and Author of ebook, Validate Your App Idea, talk about what to expect when getting feedback, how to find a good group to test your prototype, and how to get the right attention from your users.

Miss out on Part 1? Listen to “Validate Your App: Building the Prototype“.

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Covered in this Episode

A Minimum Viable Product is an early version of a product released to the public for validation. Through an MVP or Prototype, a startup can collect feedback from users without spending too much of its resources. Getting honest, open feedback will give you a better sense of direction in product development.

Once you’ve created your MVP, the next step is to get feedback on it. John Rake gives tips on how to get feedback, who to ask it from, and what to do with it.

Tips for Business Growth from Startup Hustle

Highlights

  • GorillaBot Labs value (03:32)
  • Signing NDAs (04:01)
  • Steps to start validating and testing (04:54)
  • Feedback is key (06:47)
  • Finding the right people to validate the app (07:01)
  • Ideas and validating it: Matt’s personal story (09:35)
  • Sometimes great ideas just aren’t gonna monetize (10:40)
  • What to expect when receiving feedback (11:21)
  • The advantages and benefits of the feature (13:13)
  • Finding people to interview, look for them in fishing holes (14:15)
  • Random opinions will come up with random solutions (16:21)
  • Finding investors will take you 5 to 6 months if you’re lucky (18:20)
  • It’s not only about testing the prototype, it’s also about promoting it and maintaining it. (19:00)
  • What to do when you find a good test group (21:23)
  • Do a little competition research (22:44)
  • What set of questions do you need to ask? (24:40)
  • How do you get someone to download the app? (28:25)
  • Do an internal test or beta-test your app (31:40)
  • What to do when you feel stuck (33:30)
  • Learn to figure it out. Do your research. (37:53)
  • If you want to learn more and want to take action in validating your app talk to an expert (40:39)

Key Quotes

Sometimes the most efficient path is to just not do anything at all. That’s actually like a real thing and you look at any time you’re trying to create efficiency in a business.

Matt DeCoursey

Just talk to people. You’ll learn something and it’ll save you 5 grand.

John Rake

If you’re stuck, the first thing to do is move forward. You’ll be surprised at how clear things become. The problem people get into when they’re stuck is they get paralyzed in a spiral. Then they get stuck in this black hole void of ideas where everything goes to die. That’s because you didn’t do anything with it.

John Rake

You got to have people that’ll answer your call and make that call. It’s just really that simple.

Matt DeCoursey
Growth and Innovation in Startup Venture

Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00

Matt DeCoursey

And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. If you’re listening to this episode and you did not listen to our prior episode about validating your app idea, go back and listen to that one before you do this one. It should appear right in the feed before this episode. We are going to talk about testing your prototype today and how you get some of that stuff moving and going now.

Before I reintroduce my guest for part 2, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Full Scale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably, and has the platform to help you manage that team. Go to Full Scale.io to learn more. Look, it only takes a couple of minutes when you go to Full Scale io. That Get Started page has 2 minutes’ worth of questions. We’re going to match you up with people that can hopefully help you with what you need.

Now speaking of helping you with what you need, back for part two, I’ve got John Rake. And John is the founder of Gorillabot Labs. That’s http://gorillabotlabs.com, and he’s also the author of a couple of different ebooks; you can find the link in the show notes to that. 

So John’s there to help you get ready to do a whole lot of stuff which we talked about in part one we’re gonna talk more about it in part 2 straight out of our Kansas City, Kansas, Startup Hustle studio live and in the flesh, John, welcome back for part 2!

00:01.36

John Rake

Hey man, good to be back. 

00:01.38

Matt Decoursey

So I’m not going to ask you what your backstory is because I want people to go to part one. I think one of the things we talked about building the prototype now we’re going to talk about testing the prototype but much like you should in any process go back and listen to the first part of this two-part series 

00:01.57

John Rake

Go back, do it a couple times, slow it down, take notes. Number one then number two.

00:02.15

Matt Decoursey

And I digress so you know John, you’re a consultant and author and a developer. You mentioned in part one you have experience with one of my favorite Startup Hustle guests and supporters of all time Sandy Kemper from C2FO. No offense to all of my guests but I don’t always come out of the studio going, “Man, I got to study harder before that person’s back on.”

00:02.38

John Rake

Gave me a Christmas card riding on a horse, beat that!

00:02.42

Matt DeCoursey

Like you rode the horse? 

00:02.43

John Rake

No. He rode the horse and he gave it to everyone in the company 

00:02.50

Matt Decoursey

Wondering how you split up the horse if that was the case. So, I mean that is complicated. So in part one of our series and the reason we’re creating this series is, one, John wrote a great ebook. There’s a link to that if you want to figure it out. I was excited, like, he shared that with me several months ago and I immediately replied I was like “Dude, this is tailor-made for Startup Hustle right?” 

00:03.13

I said we got a couple parts here you laid this out. Thank you for doing that. I have a strong appreciation for people who put out stuff with value in mind. Yes, like what’s the value that you’re creating with and what you do at GorillaBot Labs. Where’s your value?

00:03.35

John Rake

My value is all about helping early stage startups founders. Actually, build products that people want and will scale later. So a lot of people want to just go hire any developer. It’s not a great idea. You need to find the right developer. 

00:03.49

Matt DeCoursey

We even mentioned in the first part that I was excited to do this and we’ll share these None episodes with a lot of people that reach out. They go to fullscale.io, they fill it out, they’re like, I’ve got an app idea, I’m ready to hire a developer.

00:04.02

John Rake

Here’s my NDA. 

00:04.04

Matt DeCoursey

Actually, like how a guy yesterday, before I got on the call, he said are you willing to sign an NDA before we talk? And I said “Nope!” He said, “Why not?” I said, “Because usually, I’m not in the habit of doing legal documents so I can talk to you.”

00:04.22

John Rake

What do you want me to do? I work with like 20 people a day on this kind of stuff that would not talk about anything.

00:04.25

Matt DeCoursey

A full-time attorney would do that. No one wants to steal your app idea; they don’t have the passion that you have for building it. Right? 

00:04.37

So we built this app, this minimally lovable product which is a prototype. It’s through that code that we test it. Like what are we looking for? And what steps do you need to take to start? Validating and testing. 

00:04.56

John Rake

The first thing you need to do is find a few of the right people that are actually your customer and we’ll get into some of that later but you need about five to test a prototype at any given time you need to then interview these people I suggest a framework we’ll get into it’s about an hour and then you need to go and reflect on those five interviews find some patterns see if the trajectory is good.

You’re looking for patterns that move you in the right direction and you’re going to get 80% of probably what you want or don’t want from just five people. 

00:05.38

Matt DeCoursey

So I refer to this as listening for the echo. So the echo was actually first taught to me by my editor for my books. Patrick Price, go to askabookeditor.com if you feel like writing a book because Patrick’s awesome. So when you have an echo in writing it’ll be using the same kind of things. Cause you do it enough, you say it enough, or you say the same thing over and over again and with writing like a 300-page book it’s easy to. We’re creatures of habit.

He would be like “This is an echo”, but I realized as an entrepreneur that the good ones listen to the echo. If you go to put your idea in front of five different people and four of them say the same stuff you got an echo. There might be something to that, and that’s what you need to pay attention to not the one-off comment. I think the key thing is when you get the feedback and the feedback is key. Now the question is if we mentioned finding five people. Let’s talk about that. Try to find five people that could be in the potential user group, not just your mom. Unless she’s going to be a user.

00:07.05

John Rake

I would say never friends and family. This is just hard to rule. If you want people to tell you yes and never give you hard feedback, talk to your family all day, every day. If you want someone who will actually crush your dreams a little bit and hurt your feelings, and you do want that, have some thick skin and be prepared. But you need strangers who honestly don’t care about you. One more little side tip, never tell them It’s your business. It’s your prototype. No one ever wants to hurt your baby. 

00:07.38

Matt DeCoursey

So you mentioned that they don’t care about you, but I disagree with that because I think they do care about you if they’re giving you honest, open feedback. I’m like a prime target for this question. Okay, because of this show because of all of it I get this a lot, “Hey I’d like to talk to you about my idea,” you know all that which I’m really accommodating to do. Now with that, I have some rules with it and one is you can’t get upset with me but I don’t tell you what you want to hear. Two, I’m not going to argue about why you’re right and I’m wrong after I give you my opinion.

I have these rules after a decade of doing this, for a reason and that’s because people get their feelings hurt. I’m also that guy that people call and this is what I get, “Okay I know you’ll get me an honest opinion,” I’m like, “Are you ready for it?” No one wants to find out. They don’t want to hear you say that your baby’s ugly.

00:08.42

John Rake

I’ve done these interviews from my own businesses in the past starting things up and I have a rule that says early in the interview, you can’t hurt my feelings, we’re not testing you, this is not my business, I’m working for another guy. It’s a lie; if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t do it. Some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten was people just looking at me and going “This thing’s a joke,” and I go. “Right? Don’t build it. Cool. I learned something.”

00:09:10

Matt DeCoursey

Sometimes the most efficient path is to just not do anything at all. That’s actually like a real thing and you look at any time you’re trying to create efficiency in a business. That’s always the one question I ask is “Do we even need to do this at all?” 

Another thing when it comes to ideas and validating it, I’m going to use an example here. It’s actually a family example. So my brother-in-law is a doctor. Works with the CDC and he was an ER doctor for a long time and a lot of people show up. This happened like six or seven years ago. Homeless people have an iPhone apparently, but people show up unconscious and the phone’s locked. And he’s like if we could just build a thing that would let a doctor unlock your phone because doctors don’t want to just give you medication because they don’t know what you’re allergic to and a whole lot of other things. I was like Chris, this is a brilliant idea that would save a lot of money that you will never make a dollar out of. And he’s like, “Well why not? Insurance companies would save x amount of money.” I said, “Who do you know that runs blue cross blue shield?” and he’s like, “No one.” I said, “Okay, that could take you years to get to.” 

Another thing too, that’s not an app, that’s a function of iOS. It’s an actual operating system. Sometimes great ideas are really useful on a world scale, but they’re not going to monetize. 

00:10.46

John Rake

There’s no way Apple would ever approve that app.

00:10.56

Matt DeCoursey

Have you seen Super Pump? It’s on Showtime with seven episodes all about the story of Uber. They were really bad. They actually lied to Apple. They almost got thrown out of the App Store. But at the time they were the most popular app ever for Apple. 

They did some shady stuff and those days are past. You are done with that now. So when it comes to feedback, expect and hope it stings a little bit because maybe those are the points that you need to pay attention to.

00:11.31

John Rake

You don’t want them to hedge their feedback like if it’s bad feedback just ask for honesty, get it transparent. If it’s good it’s good. You don’t want someone who thinks it sucks to look at you and go, “That’s all right,” that’s not good feedback. It didn’t tell you anything. That’s going to leave you undecided a week later.

00:11.54

Matt DeCoursey

I think a mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs and early stage people make is they try to chase all the feedback which is to be a big no-no.

00:12.03

John Rake

Haven’t thought about that. 

00:12.05

Matt DeCoursey

Well they get off on a tangent. It’s like ADD and shiny things and like they hear one person like oh that’s a good idea and it ends up not being the right product.

00:12.14

John Rake

That’s what we talked about the customer journey before you need to be very clear on where you want. Put a line in the sand and hold some ground on it.

00:12.32

Matt DeCoursey

Be really, really good at one or 2 things; like world class good.

00:12.36

John Rake

You need an A-plus feature that actually gets something going. If you want the best hot dog, do you really care if they have like a hundred different toppings if you just want a good hot dog? No!

00:12.48

Matt DeCoursey

You said the F word, feature. So whenever I hear the word feature, there’s a few things. People don’t give a shit about features, they care about the advantages and benefits of what features provide, right? You’re trying to sell it and explain it. 

Another thing is don’t assume that any user will understand the advantages and benefits of a feature. Don’t make them have to figure it out. Benefit of using this as this will save you time, it’ll save you money and it will create efficiency, peace of mind which by the way is actually way more valuable than gold, platinum, bitcoin all of it, piece of money.

A feature, the advantage or benefit of it might be, “Hey this is going to work 24 hours a day for you,” as opposed to 9 to 5,” and the benefit of that might be you could take bookings or you could collect data or you could just service, or do something. Rather than just the feature of being “Hey the internet’s open all day!”

00:14.12

John Rake

Right.

00:14.16

Matt DeCoursey

We talk about finding the right people to interview. So one of the ways that I know you is there’s a pretty robust startup KC Facebook group. I see people asking for help and feedback all the time. 

00:14.32

John Rake

That’s a good place to start, I call them fishing holes. Anywhere your customer is at, where they hang out, maybe it’s a subreddit, maybe it’s a forum, a social media group or a meetup, anything like that. That’s where you need to pluck them from and start a conversation. You can pay them for their time. I think that’s a respectable thing to do. Don’t look for people trying to make money because then they don’t really care about your feedback. 

00:14.58

Matt DeCoursey

So I’ll give you twenty five bucks if you give me feedback on my app. 

00:15.02

John Rake

I do anywhere from 50 to a 100 for an hour interview. 

00:15.06

Matt DeCoursey

With that, you need to have some structure behind it. A clear example of this, and this isn’t necessarily related to building an app, but my first book that came out I asked like a hundred of my friends and just people if they would mention something about it. Ninety of them came back and asked “What do you want me to say?” So when Million Dollar Bedroom came out, instead of asking I gave everyone I was like literally I asked the same people the same thing and said “Here’s three things you might say, here’s the link to go to, here’s an image if you want to post that,” and guess what? Ninety people posted about it. 

00:15.46

John Rake

We talked about friction before, to make it easy.

00:15.50

Matt DeCoursey

You have to have some format around that. If you just have a Gmail account you can create. But you want to benchmark against other people’s comments in my opinion. I asked ten people and eight of them said yes, this was useful and two didn’t. The next one might be one person said this was okay and nine people didn’t. What’s the why? behind that. Random opinions will come up with random solutions and I think that you’re at the point when you’re validating and testing a prototype, you’re trying to funnel it down. 

00:16.34

John Rake

You gotta be ruthless. It’s hard. It’s gonna take some practice. Your few aren’t gonna be good, but I mean just keep working at it.

00:16.44

Matt DeCoursey

Or crush your dreams if you let me? I mean that with all love. I have had multiple people that were friends and family and said “Look, if you want my opinion I’m going to give you the real opinion and as I mentioned earlier it might not be what you want to hear, but sometimes that is the most valuable opinion you can get before you start dumping buckets of money down a well.

00:17.10

John Rake

Let me give you a quick story on that because it’s actually good. Best client I ever got. Worked with another company. We’ll leave everything like law and order, we’ll change the names to protect the innocent or guilty in this case. 

He worked with them for more than one year I think 2 maybe 3 and he was in the hole with an okay product that was not scalable, not maintainable, all kinds of problems in the code, paid multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it have been nicer if somebody told him in the first two months that hey this isn’t working? Do you want to waste two years? Do you want to waste $100,000 or do you want someone to go, “This kind of sucks.” 

00:17.53

Matt DeCoursey

What’s your plan down the road? I mean, and some of that is what’s next? I think one of the most heartbreaking conversations that I can have on any given day is talking to people that waited too long to figure out what’s next and they run out of money. They lose money, they lose traction. 

I have this conversation a lot more than I wish. It’s gonna take you five to six months to find investors for the most part if you get them. In some cases, the rule of thumb is hope for six to nine months. If it’s March and you need money this year you need to be raising it now, you’re actually behind. 

00:18.35

John Rake

There are people in funded startups, all they do is raise money. 

00:18.39

Matt DeCoursey

It’s a full-time job. It’s also very difficult and also the reason that episode two of Startup Hustle got way better 800 episodes later. It’s titled Getting Funded Sucks and it does but these are back to that rudderless feeling of not knowing what comes next and that’s the whole thing. 

So it’s more about it’s not just testing the prototype as we mentioned in episode one. How are you going to market?. How are you going to drive people into it? How are you going to just do all of it? It’s shocking how many people think they’re just going to build an app and like it’s just an app. You need a server for that and like other things. 

00:19.18

John Rake

Then monthly fees. What’s your marketing budget? Did you even account? 

00:19.21

Matt DeCoursey

It’s going to cost you a couple hundred bucks a month just to keep shit online!

00:19.26

John Rake

How are you gonna get a user? 

00:19.27

Matt DeCoursey

If you get one at all. I mean how are you gonna get a user?

00:19.31

John Rake

It’s a good question because people don’t really think about it.

00:19.32

Matt DeCoursey

Promotion and we’re not gonna go far down the rabbit hole. But what do you know about advertising on social media? What do you know about advertising in an app store? Do you actually have a business set up? Or are you just building it out? 

Because if you don’t have a business set up and you’re trying to advertise a business a lot of places want to know who they’re doing business with and you’re just a person. No downgrade to people there but there’s a difference between being a person and being an actual business entity.I mean there’s a lot to consider, much like what you have to deal with when finding developers to build your app or your app idea or any of it.

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We’re talking about just getting you ready for it. There is so much stuff I got to do though, it’s hard.

00:20:54

John Rake

Do it a couple times. It’ll get so much easier.

00:20:56

Matt DeCoursey

Or do it really well once and get it right.

00:21:02

John Rake

I’m like 20 or 30 in on this with clients by now. So it’s. You get it by like time five pretty well  

00:21:11

Matt DeCoursey

So let’s talk about some of the questions we’re going to ask. When we’re testing, what are a few rules of thumb? We found a good test group, we feel that they’re biased, they’re not afraid to tell us the truth, they have some industry experience perhaps, and possibly could be in the target group of our app users. So what do we ask them afterward? What are we like during the interview? Did you use the app now?

00:21:42

John Rake

This is going to be pretty interesting. So, I actually advocate that you sit down with them in person. You can do it remotely if you want, things are changing a little bit with that. But in person, it’s going to be a lot more accountable and you sit down with them for an hour and follow a little bit of a script where you give a nice little intro. You talk a little bit about them. what are they interested in and what motivates them. 

The idea is you’re spending about half the time on them as a customer segment and half the time on them trying to use the prototype. That’s going to give you a nice well-rounded view of what my market looks like and then how they interact with this thing. An hour roughly of that in person, and then you shake their hands, say goodbye, be courteous, give them the money.

00:22:31

Matt DeCoursey

On the other hand, I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this while you’re planning and validating an app. What else in the app store does something similar? 

00:22:39

John Rake

What do you mean?

00:22:41

Matt DeCoursey

Well, if you’re going to build a to-do list app, there’s like 40 of those.  

00:22:46

John Rake

I don’t even get into this really when it comes to like the ebook type of stuff. But if you’re really going to get into this and spend some time on it, do a little bit of competition research and look at what people are doing. Don’t copy them. Is it saturated? Are there 500 apps that are just doing nothing? Can you beat them? It might be worth it.

00:23:06

Matt DeCoursey

And one thing that Matt Watson and I have is if you really want to get into the weeds, check out our 52-part series about how to start a tech company and you probably get so much of this. Man, I can’t tell you how many people don’t have any competition. It takes me five minutes to figure out that now they have competition but not a lot of it. 

00:23:23

John Rake

People don’t understand competition. It’s a time thing. 

00:23:26

Matt DeCoursey

So if your business plan involves taking users away from something else, you need to be three times better or three times cheaper.

00:23:34

John Rake

God, I would say ten times.

00:23:35

Matt DeCoursey

Those are just like the stats, that’s where you begin to have a chance because once people get used to using your shit, if whatever they have in meeting their needs unless it’s significantly cheaper, significantly better, they just don’t really feel like changing horses.

00:23:55

John Rake

It needs to be so obviously better that I don’t care about switching.

00:24:00

Matt DeCoursey

I mean that’s the key. Another thing too is, I don’t want to hear this from you cause this is in your plan, six months, and you’ve got 20% of market share. No, you don’t. Six months in, you’re gonna be happy if you have a working app.

00:24:16

John Rake

Oh if somebody pitches that to you? Don’t even.

00:24:23

Matt DeCoursey

Do you want to know my rule one in software development? The answer is anything other than a hard no, you still have work to do. That’s key. What did you find that was annoying? 

00:25:02

John Rake

That’s a good question to ask, and I like the way you asked it too because it was open ended. Well I guess ask me that question.

00:25:11

Matt DeCoursey

You can phrase it in a bunch of different ways. I don’t think it should only be “Is this annoying?” Did you find any parts of signing up or using the app to be annoying, repetitive or frustrating?

00:25:26

John Rake

It’s just a good question. My opinion is that’s going to be a little too leading towards the negative. So, it’s hard. It’s going to be harder for someone to overcome that and give you positive feedback as well. But you absolutely need to ask that type of question. 

00:25:42

Matt DeCoursey

What would prevent you from signing up for this app?

00:25:44

John Rake

Good one. What did you think about the signup process? What did you think about creating an account? Your friend recommended this app, what do you think about it? 

00:26:03

Matt DeCoursey

You talk about little user experience things too as if you’re not going to use a Google sign-in or something that’s fast and easy. Do you have the ability to let someone recover a password? I mean these are things that escape the planning process in a lot of regards. The faster and easier you let someone get to what they want, the more they’re gonna do it.

Remember, building something that’s just utilitarian doesn’t always win. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of getting someone to give you $5.

00:26:49

John Rake

That’s one of the reasons why you need to be validating this thing early. If you just think you can give someone an app and they’re going to love it, you’re dead wrong. Until you get them to actually trade a little bit of money or time for it. It’s not a yes.

00:27:04

Matt DeCoursey

And I’m telling you man it is shockingly difficult. You have B2B or B2C and a lot of apps are business to consumer. You’re wanting individual people with individual phones and all of that.

00:27:23

John Rake

And they are bombarded 24/7.

00:27:26

Matt DeCoursey

And people are inherently cheap. They will spend it now. That’s why investors love B2B products because they are bigger spends and it’s easier for someone else to spend the business’s money than it is their own. I’m telling you, it is really hard to get someone to give you $5 or $10.

00:27:42

John Rake

I use Headspace for meditation all the time and it took me like two years to give them fifty bucks. 

00:27:47

Matt DeCoursey

Duo Lingo is a really good example which is now a billion dollar company that has 1 of 50 of their users on the paid account. 

00:27:57

John Rake

That’s what it’s like you don’t want to know the conversion rates and please don’t create a social media app because you don’t know what you’re getting into.

00:28:02

Matt DeCoursey

Well another thing is so we talked about. Promoting and validating like how many clicks is it going to take you on an ad to get one person to sign up and if those clicks are ¢50 or a dollar a piece they go up over time because you show the same people the same ad while some of them click a lot of them are just breezing by it. What are you going to do to get someone’s attention? What’s your big value prop here? These are things that you can find out during these interviews. What did you find to be most valuable?

00:28:34

John Rake

It’s a good question. So when we talked about how I recommend splitting up the interview, the first half is not about your prototype, the first half is about them. What motivates them, what scares them, what they are looking for and you’re going to find out things like what kind of podcast do you listen to? What kind of books do you read? Learn about who they are and then in the second half get them to solve a couple of problems with the app, see if they can do it see if your app makes sense. 

00:29:00

Matt DeCoursey

I think when it comes to validation and testing that a lot of people make and I’ve been guilty of this in the past. You go, “Wow man, anyone could use this app?” because you’re going to find yourself getting ready to roll it out and you’re like, “Oh, anyone could use this app.” Meaning you have no specificity in targeting.

00:29:21

John Rake

You can’t market.

00:29:23

Matt DeCoursey

It’s just a challenge. You are just throwing the ads out there to random eyeballs

00:29:28

John Rake

Which doesn’t make sense. Nobody thinks like that. I know I mean like in terms of like the consumer.   they’re not going to look at a generic ad and go, “Oh that speaks to me.”

00:29:38

Matt DeCoursey

You’re going to run through a shitload of impressions. That’s the whole thing.

00:29:42

John Rake

 I hope you got a lot of money. 

00:29:45

Matt DeCoursey

Now speaking about a lot of money man I want to help you save some money. So if you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, let Full Scale help. That’s my company people and we’re here to give you some good honest advice and help. 

We have the people on the platform to help you build a managed team of experts when you visit Full Scale io. All you need to do is answer a few questions then let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long-term teams that only work for you. Learn more Full Scale.io. There’s a link to Full Scale in the show notes as well as a link to GorillaBot Labs. 

Today’s guest and author is the founder of GorillaBot Labs. An author of a couple different eBooks one of which you can find a link to in the show notes. John thanks for creating that. It just makes me happy when I can help people avoid pitfalls and mistakes. 

00:30:50

John Rake

It’s a big one for me too because when I work in the early stage space with founders, oftentimes these are people’s life savings, or it’s a college fund or something. So I take it very seriously when somebody works with me. They’re looking to spend a lot of money and we’re talking about testing.

00:31:07

Matt DeCoursey

I think that we need to get into the actual environment. There are test platforms, or is it test flight to beta test. You go through a process to get someone to install it and be able to use it, there’s permission.  But you can test it on a real phone and I think that you need to test things on the devices that they need to work on.

00:31:41

John Rake

If you’re doing a prototype, you can use it with any type of prototyping software. They will usually just stick it on your phone. They have an app that just pops up for the review. It works great. If you have an app there are beta tests and you should absolutely do an internal test. Never work with someone who’s not going to beta test it for you or give you a weekly look into what the thing looks like. That’s a red flag. We talked about those before.

00:32:10

Matt DeCoursey

And think if you have the resources and you have a software team or someone working on it to get people that are actual testers. A rookie move that I hear people make is they’re like, “Well, shouldn’t the developers be testing it?” But do you want your developers to develop software or testing it?

00:32:23

John Rake

It’s a hard balance.

00:32:24

Matt DeCoursey

Sometimes you just get too close to things. Have you seen the video of the software engineer going through testing and it’s like she’s watching shapes? There’s one that’s the half-moon or the circle which also fits the rectangle. Well everything fits in and it’s like, “Oh wow!” 

Having people that know what they’re looking for with testing, now we’re not even talking about validation. We’re just talking about actual testing to make sure something works. You can’t predict what they’re gonna click, the path that they’re going to go through. I mean you get some real people using your app and you will realize how much work you still have left to do. 

00:33:13

John Rake

A very hard lesson that people sometimes have to learn is that what you just spent is not what you thought it was.

00:33:20

Matt DeCoursey

It’s not and you don’t get it back. I mean that’s a big thing too. Now, what do you do when you feel stuck?

00:33:32

John Rake

So let’s say you go through all this, you create the prototype, you find five great people, you interview them, everything looks good. But you’re not really sure. Was it all good? Was it all bad? Somewhere in the middle, you kind of have a couple, we’ll call them lights in the tunnel, that lead you somewhere.One of them is going to be, that if you’re not getting overwhelmingly positive feedback, the prototype is probably not good enough. 

You need to iterate on the prototype, take the feedback, reflect, make it better and then find five new people to interview. I don’t recommend interviewing the same people again because they’re going to be pretty biased. You won’t learn quite as much typically, although you can. If you think the prototype is solid, be careful with that assumption, it’s probably not true, but it could be, then you need to try different people, maybe change your target demographic a little bit rather than interviewing 40 forty stay at home moms for some grocery shopping app or something. Try maybe a younger crowd, maybe an older crowd, different interests, things like that. 

00:34:34

Matt DeCoursey

You never know who’s going to be your user. You think you do when you start, you get a pretty good idea. There are very few things that are so hyper specific that you can really be like, “This is it.” I think that early in the state and during this process you have to be open to who could be your user because they’re going to surprise you sometimes. 

00:34:56

John Rake

Be open to pivoting like most businesses, probably all businesses.

00:35:03

Matt DeCoursey

I don’t think many do at all. We were talking about this before we recorded about podcasting and I said some people will be like, “Wow 3M downloads. That happened fast!”  No, it didn’t. We’re doing this shit for 4 and a half years man.

00:35:20

John Rake

It happened fast because you saw the ad the other day 

00:35:22

Matt DeCoursey

So close to the 900th episode dude. This did not happen fast. 

00:35:26

John Rake

That Amazon came out of nowhere!

00:35:28

Matt DeCoursey

An overnight sensation, 15 years in the making. But that feels that way on the other side of the viewpoint. As we kind of wrap up part two here and once again, if you didn’t listen the first part go back and do that it’s right below this episode in the feed also go to http://gorillabotlabs.com learn more about John if you have been listening and you want to see the more detailed content that came with his ebook that covers parts one and two in the show notes. There’s a frickin playbook. You don’t have to reinvent this stuff.

00:36:06

John Rake

I give you everything in that ebook. If you get stuck, it means you’re ready to pay someone to get you out of it.

00:36:12

Matt DeCoursey

I agree with that. When I look back at validating, testing or whatever, sometimes spending five grand is going to save you fifty. I’m not kidding, just using the app framework. I talk to people and I can never even consider that I’m like, “Well there you go you just saved 5 to 10 grand,” right? 

00:36:35

John Rake

That’s a good point of just talking to people. You’ll learn something and it’ll save you 5 grand. 

00:36:39

Matt DeCoursey

Talk to other people that have built it, talk to multiple service providers and listen to podcasts. You know it’s unbelievable how accessible all the plays are. I mean all the plays for the play but the playbook is not secret. They’re literally everywhere. I dropped out of five colleges, John.

00:37:02

John Rake

Why not six?

00:37:05

Matt DeCoursey

Give it time. I’m actually hoping to get an honorary degree from the University of Cebu soon. Truth is it looks like it may happen.

00:37:15

John Rake

See that’s awesome!

00:37:19

Matt DeCouresy

I just wanted to call my dad and tell him I graduated from college. Then I also want to call my sister who went to Notre Dame Georgetown in medical school because it was just cheaper to wait till I was almost 50 and then get the degree in an honorary kind of way.

You didn’t get an MBA. I went to a top 10 business school that was the last one I dropped out of so I might not get myself enough credit. But on some days, you’re like, “Well how’d you learn how to do this?” I figured it out, man it’s on fucking Google. Google it!  What do you want to figure out how to do? Google it or Youtube it. I’d never built anything out of wood and I built a really amazing deck. 

00:38:15

John Rake

Dude, nice! 

00:38:16

Matt DeCoursey

There’s a couple times where I had to take everything apart and then do it again. But it’s out there and the excuse that you haven’t done it. You don’t have the expertise, that’s bullshit. You’re not looking hard enough, you’re not googling it. Then a real easy way to do it is just to go out and talk to people. 

Over twenty years ago I decided I wanted to do stuff and things in business and I started finding people that would give me their playbook. I just went and asked. Some said yes, some said no.

00:38:48

John Rake

Some people say no. But if you’re stuck the one thing to do is move forward.You’ll be surprised at how clear things become. The problem I think people get into when they’re stuck is they get paralyzed in a spiral. Then they get stuck in this, what I call the black hole, the void of ideas where everything goes to die. That’s because you didn’t do anything with it. 

00:39:09

Matt DeCoursey

Then here’s the reality, I’m just such a straight shooter at this point, if every idea was a billion dollar idea it wouldn’t be that hard to have a frickin billion dollar idea.

00:39:22

John Rake

There’s a red flag for me from a customer standpoint. Anyone who says their idea is unique or it’s really valuable or worth a lot of money or the market share is huge I go, “You’re in it probably for the wrong reasons and you’re a little delusional.” 

00:39:35

Matt DeCoursey

Well if it was easy to become a billionaire there’d be more than 2000 of them.

00:39:41

John Rake

One of the things I learned working at C2FO was Sandy would really preach this idea of like, “Don’t look at the unicorns out there. They’re not what you think. Focus on yourself.” That’s just good life advice. 

00:40:05

Matt DeCoursey

I got a lot of good advice from Sandy. I’ve been privileged in that regard. You got to have people that’ll answer your call and make the call. It’s just really that simple.

We just had a discussion about testing a prototype. We talked about validating your app idea. Now here we are at the end of two episodes that were very much created around the content in your ebook which we have a link for in the show notes. Where do we want to leave people?

00:40:42

John Rake

I would say if you want to learn more and actually start taking action check out that link in the notes. It’s http://gorillabotlabs.com/validate. You’ll learn everything you need and just start taking action on it. When you get stuck after you’ve taken action, talk to someone like me, talk to someone like Matt, but do something first.

00:41:03

Matt DeCoursey

Well just do it, Nike says it best. I think that’s a big thing. Just do it. You gotta take the first step. Just thinking about that and this isn’t about building software but having written 3 books I’ve got so many people that are like, “Oh dude I’m writing a book,” “Cool man. How’s that going?”, “Well I’ve been working on it for 8 years.”

00:41:31

John Rake

Well, I got an outline.

00:41:34

Matt DeCoursey

Well I haven’t started yet, what do I need to do? You need to go home and write something. It’s like everyone knows the answer but it’s still just write something. Go do it, quit talking about it, fucking do it.and if you don’t believe enough in yourself to do it. No one else is going to believe in you to do it either. Really it all starts there. 

A lot of people ask me, “What do you do in your spare time?” Business, I study the greats. I’ve been spending the last six months doing a really deep dive into what makes people do genius stuff. There’s 2 things that overwhelmingly guarantee you will not do genius stuff. One is self-doubt and the other is being surrounded by negative people that don’t think it can be done.

00:42:22

John Rake

Best thing I ever did was get rid of the type of negative people. 

00:42:27

Matt DeCoursey

It’s a challenge because a lot of times those are your friends and family, unfortunately.

00:42:33

John Rake

That’s hard.

00:42:40

Matt DeCoursey

Those are tough decisions, but those are the tethers that keep you down. If you don’t believe that you’re going to get it done or do it then I wouldn’t even start. I don’t call myself a successful person. I’m still trying to figure it out. 

00:42:58

John Rake

That’s kind of life though isn’t it. It’s healthy. 

00:43:01

Matt DeCoursey

If you ever lose that quest, you’re done.

00:43:05

John Rake

Oh you get bored. Don’t get to the top of the mountain.

00:43:11

Matt DeCoursey

Talk about coming back full circle. I shared that times square story and snapped. That dude Kirk Mcdonald said something to me that night that he said, “Hey man I’ll give you some advice here. I feel like you’re trying to climb the mountain by yourself. It’s so much easier to just ask those on top to pull you up.”

00:43:33

John Rake

Oh, that’s good.

00:43:35

Matt DeCoursey

I’ve had a bunch of listeners and people quote me on that. That’s not my quote. But some of the best advice I’ve ever got. So ever since then, I spent a lot of time looking up and yelling can I get a hand. Those are the people you want to listen to because they’re not throwing stones down at you. They’re not doing a lot of stuff and a lot of times they only need one person to give you a hand in that regard. So maybe that’s where we should end this episode. Thanks for joining me, John. 

00:43:58

John Rake

Thank you man. This is great.

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