How to validate a product idea

Are you looking to make and launch your product idea?

Here are the top four things you can learn to boost your chance of success:

1. Validating a problem

2. Iterating into a solution

3. Deciding to build a digital product 

4. Selling a digital product without spending a single dollar on marketing

Maker: Zoe Best Place to Find Her: Twitter or discover her most recent product launch: Notion Tracker Suite.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your story.

Hey, my name is Zoe Chew. I’m a product builder in tech and design. My apps have been featured on Product Hunt #1, Lifehacker, Hacker Noon, Noonies Winner 2020, and tech blogs in 7 countries.

I’m working as a consultant for remote teams and tech companies based in the US/APAC to innovate solutions and solve business problems using product thinking. I work in the areas of product building, growth, community building & user base discovery.

I spend my weekends building Notion TrackerSuite and growing a 2,200+ list newsletter. At the same time, I’m launching multiple startup MVPs. My goal is to build a sandbox for startup experiments so that I can identify ideas that gain traction, solving a problem that interests me deeply, and eventually take it to become a company.

2. Can you tell us how you got the idea for NotionTrackerSuite and why did you choose no-code?

Notion TrackerSuite is a digital productivity system that consists of 12 Notion templates and a 10-part Notion training course. It’s built for knowledge professionals who want to get things done, be more productive, and establish a sustainable digital workflow.

I started using Notion in 2019. Over the past 12 months, I have been experimenting, building and testing the perfect Notion system for myself that can support my personal productivity and work-related projects.

At the beginning, I was trying to solve my productivity problems by building micro-tools in Notion such as finance tracker, habit tracker, book tracker, and productivity dashboard. I shared publicly how I built my Notion systems through blog posts.

Some of these Notion articles went viral and I started getting tons of DMs from people who have benefited my Notion tutorials. With solid data point and feedback, that’s when I decided to turn these insights from my audience and package into one product—Notion Tracker Suite.

After incubating this product idea based on readers’ insights, I decided to build a landing page and content download gateway using no-code tools. For a simple project like this that doesn’t involve complex user experience or app features, no-code is the best solution because it’s fast and easy to set it up.

Was there an itch to scratch or problem you recognized. How did you spot the problem and then decide to make something to help solve it.

As a product builder, I always believe it’s important to spot a valid problem, validate the needs and then only decide to build a solution (or product) around it.

Before releasing Notion TrackerSuite, I discovered a personal problem that I wanted to solve. I prototyped it for myself to see if it works based on these questions:

  • How can I sync my goal planning <> execution activities?
  • How can I reduce scattered notes and surface important documents and resources?
  • How can I unify my workflow— Plan, Track, Hit, Review, Prioritize, Manage in one systematic Notion dashboard?
  • How can I build a Notion system that I can use for personal, work projects, and business goals planning?

Next, I wanted to see if other people experience the same problem—digital productivity. I wrote articles on how I built these Notion systems and received feedbacks from readers who have implemented my tools, processes and tutorials. That’s when I found out other people also struggled with the same problems.

But I didn’t stop there. The most accurate way to “validate” a product needs is to get people to pay for it. I converted these Notion templates from the blog articles into a paid template to see if people would pay for it.

Within 24 hours, I received a payment for my paid template and another order followed the next day. Then I only decide to build the full-ranged Notion TrackersSuite with 12 productivity templates and training videos to support customers in modifying, building, and customizing their unique digital system.

3. Can you give any insights to your framework for building your next thing?

Whether it’s building a tech startup, digital product or traditional business, it’s always worth spending time to do market research, gather feedback from potential users, talk to potential customers, harvest these insights, and analyze them systematically.

If you can identify a valid problem, you are 50% ahead of your time and effort before you even start approaching the solution or product development phase. It won’t help building a product to solve an invalid problem because people won’t find it useful and eventually won’t pay for it.

Once you have the insight and valid problem, you can develop a plan to brainstorm the solutions (i.e. product idea, app idea, design idea) to see which solutions fit the problems and the customers. Then you can move on to building a prototype, minimum viable product or proof of concept to validate those assumptions.

4. What is your stack to create Notion Tracker Suite?

  1. Notion
  2. Gumroad
  3. Carrd
  4. Google Analytics
  5. Google Tag Manager

5. Can you share your experience using this stack; any insights, advantages and disadvantages, things that surprised you, disappointed you for each tool:

Overall, these no-code tools are great for building a project like Notion TrackerSuite. I built the landing page and payment pieces without having to worry about coding.

I’m also a huge fan of combining no-coding and coding. I used Carrd to build most part of the landing page. When it comes to custom designs, I apply some CSS codes to suit my needs and desires that can’t be done using existing customization in Carrd.

6. Where do you see Makers/Startups/Businesses missing opportunity? This could be a high level thought/philosophy on opportunity with no-code.

I believe there are many opportunities and use cases in using no-code that can benefit professionals from all walks of life such as founders, designers, marketers, product managers, freelancers, and even software engineers.

As a solo founder, maker, and product marketer myself, I’ve used no-code to create startup MVPs, set up online businesses, and helped my clients to validate product ideas and feature ideas using an iterative approach.

There are also other no-code use cases that increase business productivity and work effectiveness. For marketers, they can use no-code tools to quickly set up a landing page for product launch without adding workloads to the tech team. For freelancers, they can set up a business website within a few hours, create a quote generator, and automate client invoicing without using any programming.

7. What is missing in the no-code space that you if you had more of would help making and launching your app?

As the API economy begins to grow and becomes integrated among the developer-consumer and digital business ecosystem, I’m looking forward to seeing more no-code solutions that can bridge the gap between no-code API creation, automation, and workflow building.

8. Can you share about what are key things you did in this project to generate sales with $0 in marketing?

I’m grateful to see Notion TrackerSuite becoming a profitable side project since Day 1. After launching on Product Hunt, the project was able to generate $1,034 in sales within 24 hours with $0 marketing.

While it’s useful to have a pre-launch, pre-sale, email list or “build in public” strategy, I didn’t follow the path and decided to launch on Product Hunt right away—after I completed the landing page, course content and visual designs. Then, I posted a Tweet about my launch—that’s my initial “go to market” process.

The project was placed between 4th and 5th and ended 9th on Product Hunt. It has been featured on Product Hunt newsletter (twice) and benefited from a very large email audience and drove free traffic from Product Hunt itself.

But I didn’t stop there. I continued to distribute the product through my regular Notion articles and email newsletter. I also have plan to expand the distribution through paid advertising.

9. When building anything there is always something unexpected that occured. What parts did you get stuck and learn most from?

Building a course product and tech product is similar in some ways (i.e. validating a product idea) but also different in some aspects. The easy process for me is: building the website, integrating all the nocode tools, implementing analytics and writing the product offer.

What I found challenging is the content creation part, i.e. recording the Notion training course, teaching my knowledge, video editing and creating a pitch intro video. These processes are often time-consuming. I went through tons of video recording, re-editing and sometimes revising the teaching materials until it is easy to understand and consume.

11. Please provide what links to your project website, your twitter, where can people return the love? Where they can check out about you and your latest product launch:

Website: https://notiontrackersuite.com/

Hi👋🏼, I'm Michael.

The maker of this site

michael novotny and no code to make and launch a side project

I am a no-code Maker. I started Side Project Stack to help Makers reduce the time and effort to make stuff with no-code.

I launched Get Stackd. A former #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt. It helps Makers find the best no-code tools to use to make something. It's a 100% automated web app built with no-code.

What's interesting about it? Get Stackd take's the data from over dozens and dozens successfully made no-code projects to recommend the best starting point of tools to use to make your idea. I hope that you try it out. It's perfect for just starting out.

Ill be adding more to the no-code space. If you'd like to stay updated you can sign up for the newsletter and join over 2,000+ Makers getting the best insights on no-code and product management. Thanks ❤️for reading.