Zero to Startup: Product Test in a Weekend

July 9, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

With the success of Startup Weekend, let’s discuss how to validate your product or service (henceforth product) in one weekend or less. (See disclaimer at bottom)

So you have an idea for a product that will make you rich. Now, what do you do?

  • a) You invest in developing the entire product. You buy servers in case you get DUGG. You purchase phone lines and equipment. Hire a secretary. Get business cards printed with the product name on it. Brand wrap your car. Etc etc.


  • b) You test the product in one weekend to see if there’s any traction at all with minimum investment of time, money and other resources.

How to test your product in one weekend:

  1. Write out what your product is. Describe it, how would the user interact with it. What does it do? Who’s the target audience? Etc. Writing your thoughts down will make them clearer and more concrete.
  2. Use the above information to create the following pages about your product: 1) general information page, 2) Preview page, 3) Order page. On the order page, take their name/contact info and say that the product is currently in “beta” and they will be contacted when it’s ready for purchasing.
  3. Spend $100 on AdWords to get some traffic and see the results.
  4. If you have friends, contact them for a review of your product/preview pages. Most of them will come back with “it’s a great product”, “wonderful, why didn’t I think of that”, and “YouTube killer”. They are saying this because they are your friends, so the next step is you ask them to pay $20 for a year of service. This will really tell you if your product has any value or not.
  5. “But my product is viral and it will be based on advertising so I can’t test it.” No problem. Alpha versions of Facebook and HotOrNot were built in a weekend, so build it and email all your friends, if your server crashes in a week you have a winner, if not test something else.
  6. “I’m not a developer and my product needs programming.” No problem. Spend $100 at and it’ll be done for you.

There are other variables that come into play here but this should cover most of the products out there.

Disclaimer: This is for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only. Do not do this at home or anywhere else. Seek professional advice before proceeding. Ok done.

(Another post by André Nosalsky.)

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7 responses to “Zero to Startup: Product Test in a Weekend

  1. Michael Sitarzewski Reply

    Having been a part of Startup Weekend, I can tell you that there is quite a difference between two or 3 people and “build it in a weekend,” and having 70 people build it in a weekend. The entrepreneurial energy there was, as I recall someone else saying, palpable.

    I’ve done two other startups in 24 hours or so, one was a dating site in 1997 (we exited in 99), and the other was not too long ago ( The differences between the two types of ventures are far too involved to get into here, but the summary would be that the quick test over a weekend with a few people builds/tests a product or maybe even a feature.

    Seventy people in a room with everything from legal, to biz dev, creative, marketing, development (both front end and back end groups) is that we built a company, complete with vision (2.0, 3.0, etc.) and a complete revenue model (advertising, pro, and white label) built a business.

    As a matter of fact, we have everything we need to get in front of investors. Oh, wait, they were there too! 😉

    Great post André. Keep it up.

  2. Andrew Warner Reply

    Sounds smart and easy.

    André could you give some examples of Web sites you’ve built using this cheap and quick system?

  3. Anand Chhatpar Reply

    I’ve also seen people put photoshopped images of products they are about to create on ebay to see if the auction generates excitement. You can cancel the ebay listing before it closes if you don’t have the product ready. The listing fees for eBay auctions are cheaper than testing on Google Adwords.

  4. Lawn Chair Millionaire Reply

    Nice tip mate. What ever you have said looks fine , but i am not pretty much sure about this weekend setup.Zero to startup-product test in a weekend looks pretty misleading. Long run matters in business rather depend on short term gains. Any how nice post friend.