Test unproven ideas quickly and cheaply

Many people spend thousands of dollars on unproven ideas, only to discover that no one wants to fork over the cash to buy them. Is it any wonder that 8 out of 10 businesses tend to fail?

So what is the fix? Find ways to get your ideas out to the world on the cheap. Why spend $1000 on an idea that flops when you could have gotten the same feedback for under $100.

Randy Hetrick is the creator of the TRX training system. He actually came up with the idea when he was a US Navy Seal. He was stationed in Asia, but had no access to training facilities. So he dug into his backpack and fished out a jujitsu belt. He tied a knot at one end and threw it over a door. This little hack enabled him to do a variation on single arm rows.

And while he loved his idea he wanted a bit more variation. Using a $39 sewing machine and some nylon webbing used for repairing parachute harnesses, Hedrick stitched together a more elaborate training strap with handles that also doubled as stirrups. He showed it to his fellow Seals who loved it so much they dubbed it “the gizmo.”

That little investment has turned into the TRX training system and a company that is now worth over $55 million.

 Kim Overton created a $5 million company called SpiBelt and she did it around an idea that cost her less than $100 to create.

One day while running, Kim was frustrated that she had nowhere to put her house key. Using materials from a local craft store and her sewing machine, Kim created a prototype of her idea (a spandex belt that would not bounce when she ran) and the next day showed it to some of her personal training clients. They loved it and the SpiBelt was born.


So what is your takeaway when it comes to untested ideas?

One. Spend as little as possible to get a working prototype together. The less you spend the better. Bob DeMatteis created a self-opening grocery sack with a $2 investment that included an X-acto knife, plywood and coat hangers. That is now a $1.5 billion business. Yup you read that right.

Two. Get your prototype in the hands of people who would actually use it and get their honest feedback. See how they interact with your idea, find out what they think should be included or removed and most important of all, inquire whether or not they would be willing to purchase your idea.

Try this! Act like KickStarter and pre-sell your idea. People who post on KickStarter have not yet created a finished product (in most cases). What they share is their idea and their prototype. They state how much they require to do an initial run and if their ideas has legs, it will get the funding required.

Three. Invest in skills that let you build. Maker skills are any skills that allow you to bring ideas to life. Both Kim and Rick were able to sew and that helped them quickly get something tangible into the hands of people who mattered. Things like photoshop, sketch classes, welding, cooking etc. allow you to maintain your momentum (very important) and quickly bring an idea to fruition to see if it will have a long and enduring lifespan.


1. TRX Training
2. SpiBelt

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