Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Testing Your Business Ideas

In a world dominated by 2D instant messaging services, a tech startup called IMVU had a great idea: a 3D chatroom.

Before it could break through into the texting market, the firm’s strategists sighted some key issues.

People don’t like switching to new messengers or convincing their friends to follow them.

After many hours at the whiteboard, IMVU had the solution: create an addon for existing services.

With a press of a button, a user could install the addon and presto, you’re in a virtual world.

Happy with its hassle-free product, programmers started construction on the virtual chatbox.

Six months and many thousand lines of codes later, the prototype was done and the first testers were invited.

The test results left IMVU devastated.

Firstly, the guinea pigs didn’t care about downloading another messenger. The startup learnt it had built a complicated cross-platform app for nothing.

What’s more, the testers didn’t mind inviting their friends provided the chatroom wasn’t lame. And boy did they think the virtual messenger was lame.

The trials showed IMVU spent half a year building a product nobody wanted.

The problem isn’t that IMVU made an undesirable product, but that it took six months to find out.

An easier way the tech company could have measured the potential of its idea?

A one-page website with concept art of their 3D world and a download button that led nowhere.

Not enough downloads? Don’t build the product.

Failing fast and cheaply is the key to success.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach