the right it — Alberto Savoia (Part 2 of 2)

7 min readMar 20, 2021


In Part 1 we learnt about the Law of Market Failure and how despite competent execution and experience if something that isn’t the right idea, it won’t be accepted by the market.

Now lets look at 3 things in this final part:

  • Thinking Tools — To clarify your idea and identify the data you need to collect
  • Pretotyping Tools to test your idea in the market and collect YODA (Your Own Data)
  • Analysis Tools — To interpret data you collect with Objectivity and translate it into decisions.

Thinking Tools

Market Engagement Hypothesis (MEH)

It identifies your key belief or assumption about how the market will engage with your idea. Will they want to learn more about it, explore it, try it, adopt it, buy it? And if they do, how are they going to use it and how often? Will they buy it again or recommend it to friends? — In short the MEH articulates your vision of how the market will respond to and use your idea.

Example: Idea: Chelsea Product Manager, an app that allows Product Managers to better manage their schedule and know where they are spending their time and whether or not if its most impactful.

MEH: If Product Managers who are new to the field of Product Management had a way to nudge them to invest time in only the most impactful activities they would use the App that shows them an analysis of where time is being spent.

Saying MEH with Numbers — The XYZ Hypothesis

XYZ Hypothesis is X% of Y will do Z.

Where X: How big a slice, what percent of our target market can we capture?

Y: What is our target market?

Z: How and exactly to what extent will the target market engage with our product?

Now that we have the MEH outlined, lets define it as something that’s measurable.

So we go from Idea to MEH to XYZ Hypothesis

In our example: 20% (X) of Product Managers (Y) will want to use the product, Chelsea Product Manager for a recurring fee of $5 per month to allow them to find out the most impactful activities they can focus upon.

Something is missing right? 20% of ALL Product Managers is too big a size isn’t it to be able to reach out to inorder to validate your idea.

So we need to Zoom In…i.e Convery Y to y

HypoZooming xyz

x% of y will do z

We go from Idea to MEH to XYZ Hypothesis->xyz

20% of new Product Managers having experience less than 1 year into Product Management and building Software Products in the B2B space and working in the Bay Area will use Chelsea Product Manager for a monthly recurring fee of $5 to help them focus on the most impactful tasks.

The ideal thing here is to have a sample size of 100–1000 with whom you could run your validation experiments now( with their consent and/or being transparent with them). A sample size that’s too small is inadequate while a sample that’s too large is costly and would be time consuming and not worth it.

Now, how can we collect YODA (Your Own DAta) without building an action product? Here’s Pretotyping!

Tools for Testing Your Idea in the Market and gathering YODA


What is a Pretotype? How different is it from a Prototype?

Prototypes are to test if an idea for a product or service can be built, how it should be built, how it will work and so on…
Pretotypes on the other hand, are designed primarily to validate, quickly and cheaply, if an idea is worth pursuing and build in the first place.

Types of Pretotypes

The Mechanical Turk Pretotype

Ideal for situations where you can replace costly, complex or yet to be developed technology with a human being performing the functions of that supposedly advanced technology.

The Pinocchio Pretotype

Just as Pinocchio was a wooden toy, who had a dream to become a real boy, this pretotype is where you have a wooden slab (or other materials) pretending to be a real product. Are you serious?

Well, look up how the founder of Palm Pilot, used a wooden form of a Palm Pilot first and imagined how he’d use it for days before actually building a Palm Pilot. By carrying a block of wood in his pocket, he would take it out each time he wanted to take notes or write down phone numbers. That gave him his YODA on how many times a day he pulled out his device from his pockets, what he used it for and so on.

Remember the primary purpose of Pretotypes are:

Would I use it?

How and how often and when would I use it?

Would other people buy it?

How much would they be willing to pay for it?

How, how often, and when would they use it?

The answer to these questions will help us answer the most critical question of all: Should we build it?

The Door Pretotype

The basic concept behind is that you can get some data on how many people would be interested in your idea by putting up a front door (eg: an ad, a landing page, a brochure) to help you find out if people are really interested in your idea. For example: You have an insanely good recipe for cup cakes. Rather than quitting your job, investing in high end machines, how about sticking a piece of paper on your front door stating that you make awesome cup cakes and see how many people knock on it asking for cup cakes?

Offcourse with each of your pretotype is of utmost importance to be honest and transparent with your potential users that you are testing out your business idea and will build it if there is sufficient traction. You can also offer a small token of appreciation to them for giving you their time.

The YouTube Pretotype

For a yet to be built product, its perhaps worthwhile creating a movie that shows the user experience or user flow and the value it delivers and give an option to users to reach out to you. Caution needs to be exercised here as we aren’t looking for ‘likes’ here as those are just ‘no skin in the game’ opinions.

Short Term Pretotype

The motive here is simple. Test a little before you invest a lot. Try it one time or for a few hours, days or weeks.

Example here is when Tesla opened a pop up showroom for a day to figure out if people were curious about its cars. It didn’t have to build a showroom to gather YODA. The experiment was for a few hours and good enough to validate the idea whether people showed any interest in their product.

The best strategy is perhaps combining the various forms of pretotyping

So what makes a successful Pretotype?

  • A pretotype must produce YODA with skin in the game.
  • A pretotype can be implemented quickly.
  • A pretotype can be implemented cheaply.

Now lets answer these questions:

  • How do you choose which pretotypes to use?
  • How many different experiments do you need to run?
  • How much data do you need to collect?
  • When can you stop testing?

Analysis tools will help you answer those questions.

Analysis Tools

The Skin-in-the-game Caliper — Tool to decide which kind of data is good data

Skin in the game is where somebody has something to gain or loose in the form of their time, money, reputation. In our tool below, no skin = no points. Somebody gave you an opinion = 0 points. It means nothing to the validation of your idea because the person didn’t have any skin in the game.

Likes, Thumbs up/Thumbs down = 0 points.

Somebody gave you their time? Awesome! Every minute spent = 1 point.

TRI Meter — Gauge to show you how likely your idea will succeed

Now that you have collected YODA, given them Skin-in-the-game points, lets plot your idea on the TRI Meter and figure out how likely your idea is going to succeed.

Good practices for Testing

Finally here are tips to keep in mind while you are beginning to test your ideas.

Think Locally, test globally

Here we don’t just zoom into a specific market, we zoom into a small and local test market to validate our ideas.

Saying “Think Locally with Numbers” — Distance to Data

Keep your initial market validation efforts as local as possible, save valuable time and money which allows you to run more experiments or test more ideas. For example, can you send 10 emails and get the YODA over 1000 random emails? Can you just walk over to your neighborhood to test out your idea in your local area and collect YODA?

Testing now beats testing later

The message is clear. Don’t delay testing. Take your idea off Thoughtland and into the market as soon as possible.

Saying “Testing now beats testing later with Numbers” — Hours to Data

How many hours it will take you to execute a pretotyping experiment and collect some high quality YODA?

Think Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest

Most often than not, you will come up with a cheaper way to test your idea that does not sacrifice the quality of YODA. Ask yourself ‘is this the best we can do?’ and don’t often settle on your first idea. Think Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest.

Overall a good book. Similar to Lean Startup and ideas associated with it.

Importantly the book recommends to be ethical and not lie or be dishonest with your prospective users in the name of experiments and don’t break any laws in areas where its mandated to follow the rules of safety and not just experiment, like healthcare for example.

Good Book…One to add to your library!




I love the profession of Product Management that helps me build meaningful relationships with teams and customers. I just can’t get enough of reading!