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I used to work in Management consulting and it was a really tedious job. Large companies used  pay the company to mine, analyze and validate data for business cases and put them in beautiful Powerpoint slides.  Having people pay us money to validate their business models  sounds odd (but people obviously do) but it should in my opinion be something every business owner or manager have a handle on.

Apart from realizing that I was  a lousy consultant, I’ve also realized much of the data had to be purchased and were very expensive. They had all sorts of imperfections and qualifications – they were hard to make out as solid or convincing proxies for any sort of trend or size. So what do you do if you were a lone ranger working on a startup idea and you need some sort of validation. Where do I look for unbiased, data driven validation of a business proposition?

Having been involved in Venture Capital for some years and now with the Founder Institute in KL (httpl//fi.co) , I can understand the importance and frustration of identifying valid opportunities – opportunities that have legs so to speak. Given I have been fiddling around with these tools as part of my own work at www.impersuasion.com and in preparation of the the Founder Institute Startup Ideation program, http://fi.co/e/2308.  I decided to just share a few tools that folks researching for a business idea  may find useful and are most importantly – cost nothing!

 

Google Global Market Finder – Find out if your product has global demand

The Global market finder is found in translate.google.com. What this tool does is it captures the number of broad match search terms people key in across different countries regardless of their native search query language. While keyword volume has its own issues (e.g. it doesn’t necessarily represent the corresponding number of people), it can on its own be a proxy metric for market size. For example if a large rubber manufacturer intends to find out if there are people looking to buy “rubber gloves” in Germany or Europe– they don’t have to pay  a market research firm a bomb to do so – they can do so fairly quickly too!

Global Market Finder

Google Correlate –Pick emerging  opportunities!

Google Correlate helps you identify specific keywords or target markets that correlate highly to the search volume trends of another highly popular keyword for a specific period of time. Say you would like to identify which other opportunity has exhibited a similar sort of growth trend in popularity as PSY’s “Gangnam style” and you would like to see if  there were other search terms exhibiting that sort of  phenomenal growth trend and perhaps uncover hidden opportunities from a demand perspective.

In the little experiment  above – the keywords for Enrique Iglesias ‘Finally Found You” and the role playing shooter game “Borderlands 2” exhibited highly correlated phenomenal growth trends (not necessarily in similar volume though).

Psy

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The awesome thing about this tool (select “search by drawing” feature) is also the ability for you to sketch your own growth trend and trajectory and the tool will try to match corresponding keywords to the trend lines you have drawn. You can of course specify the tool to drill down to specific markets or countries.

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Google Keyword Tool – Keyword market sizing for mobile users

The good old Google Keyword Research Tool is undoubtedly one of the most important revenue generating tools for Google themselves. Anyone who buys a Google search ad would at some point need to use it. If you go to Freeadwordstool.com, one can essentially find  individual monthly keyword search volumes for specific keywords. Most people know this already, what most people don’t do is use it to mine for specific niche opportunities like mobile searches which are a very different beast when it comes to niches involving ecommerce.  Drilling down the tool to only include ‘Mobile devices with full internet browsers’ and selecting a category  and matching it to keyword match types (use phrase or exact match) gives you a quick overview of the types of things people REALLY key in for entertainment/tourist related searches on mobile phones. A quick search reveals a strong demand for ‘homestay’ related keywords and with 33100 monthly phrase match searches – that’s a decent market in Malaysia. That’s an interesting little mobile website opportunity that someone may want to take advantage of.

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Just a reminder that I will be speaking at the next Founders Institute Ideation Bootcamp is happening on 18 of Feb 2013 at Cradle’s Office. For more info and updates, click here.

 

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