UNIT 2 – Get out of the building

This second unit has been developed to verify if the assumptions made in the first unit are correct and validate problems and pains of the customers you have identified.

In the first stage of development of a social venture, the attention should be addressed at understanding the most your target and then validate your assumption about them.

To do this it is necessary to start a direct and continuous dialogue with them:

  1. Organizing focus groups or collective interviews:
  2. Conducting face to face interviews;
  3. Using observation techniques;
  4. Using surveys and question polls

We can classify these techniques, or instruments, that use a different methodological approach, in quantitative and qualitative ones.

The first three could be considered qualitative while the last one quantitative. This, usually based on a list of open-ended and closed questions, could be implemented using three different approaches called CAPI, CAWI and CATI. At this link you can find an explanation with a focus on limits and advantages of each one.

A real and deep comprehension of the problem can’t be based only on the identification of the people who face it but also on the identification of its root or primary problem.

This will permit you to focus on what is priorities and to identifies the must-have features of your solution that will be useful to create the solution test.


interview-1018333_1920At the beginning of social problem validation process, it’s better to start with direct interview using open question and trying to listen to the speaker as much as possible.

Interviews are helpful to understand alternative answers to create the survey that will be prepared later and that will be spread to a wider number of potential customers.

It is useful to identify and go to a location (real or virtual) that your target usually frequents.

Through blogs, social networks and digital channels, it is possible easily to reach thousands of people who show a common target profile just posting a link on a Facebook group or in a forum. But in this first stage, the quality of the information you will raise is much more important than the amount of data you can obtain.

So, in order to create a survey to provide good insights about your customer/beneficiary profile, it’s important to know which are the crucial questions to ask and (even more important) which are the alternative answers among which respondents could take a position in the closed enquiry.

It means that, before starting to collect data about your targets, you should know them very well. The best way to do that is to talk and observe them in the real context where they will experience the problem you want to address.


why-1352167_1280As we have already underlined, this first step of direct and personal engagement of our potential customer is just a starting point of our process of validation of the problem.

Using experience acquired by direct interview it’s important to formulate questions thinking first on what are the fundamental information that you want to receive and how they will be used.

It is necessary to have collected a number of interviews that can give a good probability that the problem identified is real, widespread and clearly identified.

The sample analysed must composed of people who are really interested and who face the social problem or must be composed by the expert in the social problem that you are dealing with and so could be the early adopters of the solution.

The analysis must be developed to understand also if the target group identified is willing to pay to solve the problem they face and for the solution you will provide them.

It is possible to use many different techniques to reach a wide number of potential customers. The following are three useful tools that you can use build online surveys:

Tips for interviews

These are some important rules to follow:

  • Be selective about who you talk to (find critical user who is really affected by social problem identified);
  • Stop asking what, start wondering why;
  • Stop sounding like an inventor;
  • Read their body language;
  • Choose a neutral setting;
  • Write down the interview script;
  • End with an ask and always follow up;

An important aspect that you have also to investigate is how your customer face and solves the social problem that you have identified nowadays.

During the process, to bring out relevant information, it is so important to not introduce any personal or subjective bias.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk to beneficiaries directly.

Find out who else is an expert in the identified area.

Cast your net wide and speak also with relevant stakeholders beyond your beneficiaries: community workers, employers, government representatives, non-profits etc.

Tips for surveys

You can start writing down all the questions that come to your mind and then start to reduce them and select the only ones that are strictly connected to the problem that you want to validate. Questions and answers have to be easy, simple, clear and quite short. If you need to obtain precise information and collect clear enumerable data, use multiple choice.

In general:

  • If you want to receive some kind of suggestion and opinion use open-ended questions;
  • Try to avoid tendentious questions that could suggest or push the answer that you want to obtain. Formulate the same question in a different way to reduce general bias on a particular topic.
  • Cut all useless part of the sentences and use the basic form of subject-object;
  • Write down the questions following a logical and clear sequence. Identify primary and (if it necessary) secondary ones and let the possibility to pass from one to the other if it’s verified easy condition;
  • Insert demographic information on the top if it necessary for your research;
  • If you need to phrase personal or difficult questions it’s better to do it at the end of the survey;
  • Think about a form (either small or symbolic) of reward to give the ones that fulfil the survey;

Last but not least, it could very useful to select someone (i.e. family, friends), with whom test your survey. They can express suggestion or feelings and make you understand if there something not clear to refine.

Above all, after the test is important to analyse the results to understand whether or not what you have effectively obtained, data and information, match what you wanted to obtain.

After you have gained an in-depth understanding of the problem and validated, it’s time to define and validate your solution to the social problem.

In the next unit there will be presented the most important techniques to do so but in this phase, another important step is to identify, using the work done till now, those users that could be considered to be the early adopters (client risk).

They will be the ones to whom you can propose and start to test your product/service. They must have these 5 characteristics:

  1. Have a problem
  1. Aware of this problem
  1. Actively searching for a solution
  1. Found or have create a self-made solution
  1. Have or can have a real budget to use for the solution

You must have also a clear idea about how your target currently deals with the social problem and what are the basic features that your product/service must possess (product risk).

At the same time is critical to know some basic information about the market and competitors (market risk) for this you can see Module 2 – Unite 3.

At the end of this section you will have validated and proved directly the existence of the social problem to be tackled identifying is nature and urgency.

You will also have created a first contact and relation with your target, identified the early adopters, proven the effective interest in your product/service and willingness to pay for it.