The first step in building a startup is validating the idea. It is a huge risk building a product without know if there are demand for it. The easiest and cheapest way to validate a start up idea is always cold email people at first. However, from my experience cold emails without context get low response rate. This is a step by step guide to get better leads, and early opinions on any project idea.
We will be using Google Search and some advance operators to find our leads. The magical formula to find potential customers is:
site:linkedin.com/in/ "NICHE KEYWORD" GATEKEEPER POSITION
This operator is searching all profiles on LinkedIn for the specific
niche and keyword and the person's
position in that company. Here is an example of how to use this operator.
site:linkedin.com/in/ "machine learning" developer
In example 1, we are searching for all developers that is relevant to
machine learning. Which return over 8 million leads I could contact to get highly-relevant opinions on my machine learning project. This strategy can also be adopted and use for closing deals and getting leads on existing products.
Just add 10-20 of the LinkedIn profiles, the more connected they are the more likely they will accept your request. Once they accept your request politely ask them to review your startup idea.
From experience, a considerable amount of LinkedIn users accept connection requests within minutes. So you can validate your idea within minutes.
site:linkedin.com/in/ "NICHE/KEYWORD" @gmail.com
This second operator searches for highly targeted LinkedIn accounts with a publicly available
Gmail accounts instead. This can be modified for other popular email services such as Outlook or iCloud.
site:linkedin.com/in/ "blockchain" @gmail
In example 2, we are searching everyone that has a public gmail address that is working with
This time we only get 131 results, but these users are highly targeted. You should be able to validate any startup idea with this method.
In your email always mention that you saw their email on LinikedIn. In my experience, majority of these contacts are okay with being approached this way. You should expect at least 50-60% response rate from the emails you send.
This method can be repeated for multiple keywords and niches. However scraping all this by hand can be tedious. Some advance Google search operators will trigger a CAPTCHAs. This can be annoying and will limit how much or how fast you can scrape Google.
That is why we created an unoffical Google Search API search API which lets you perform unlimited searches without worrying about CAPTCHAs. Our free plan also comes with 100 request/month, so there is no reason for you not to validate your ideas.
Hopefully you can apply these methods from this guide to validate your next business idea. Do yourself a favor because it can save you a lot of time and effort.