Product Ideas 💡

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (But Were Too Busy To Ask)

by Jakob Greenfeld


"Evaluation" is the first stage of the "meat grinder" that we use to find out which ideas we should execute on. During the ideation phase, the goal is simply to come up with lots of ideas with barely any judgement. But once we have a long list of ideas, we need to decide what we'll do with it. The notion "meat grinder" in this context is due do Tyler Tringas.

We certainly can't build a minimum viable version of all of them and hence need to filter our list before we move on to the validation phase.

The most common way to accomplish this is by using a spreadsheet. While there are many variations, there are typically at least two columns:

You then give each idea on your list a product-market-fit rating and a founder-founder-fit rating. Whether you use numbers between 0 and 3, 1 and 5 or 0 and 10 doesn't matter. Ideally, you do some research before you rate an idea but it should be clear that rating ideas will never be an exact science. Additonally, you should determine a threshold value. For example, when you use a rating from 1 to 5 you could use the threshold value 8. A popular, somewhat quantitative way to get some data on the market in question is to do keyword research using tools like Google's Keyword Planner. An alternative method is to check if you can book "a full-page ad in a magazine targeted at your market for less than $5000". (This method is described by Rob Walling in his book Start Small, Stay Small.)

Once you've rated all ideas, you calculate an overall rating and highlight all ideas with a rating above the threshold value. These ideas are worth considering in more detail and should be validated.

Product Idea Evaluation Spreadsheets

I'd love to add more spreadsheets to the list. So if you use a spreadsheet to evaluate product ideas that you are willing to share with others, send me message!

Product Idea Evaluation Questions

Here's a collection of questions that you can use to assess the potential of your product ideas:

1 Observation by Patrick McKenzie2 Questions by Paul Graham3 Questions by Andreessen Horowitz5 Questions by Tyler Tringas6 Questions by Lenny Rachitsky7 Questions by Peter ThielMisc Questions