Making a Side Project, Part 3: Validating the Idea


Have you read Part 2 of the Making a Side Project series?

In the previous post we discussed the ideas on the table, but tbh I can’t stop thinking about this FIRE Community idea. In this post, I’m going to break down my process to validate it.

The Idea: FIRE Community

The idea is to create an online community for people who want to retire early (FIRE means Financial Independence Retire Early).

This website will people who have achieved early retirement, and will provide a community for those beginning their journey. In creating this community, I hope people can achieve their financial goals.

Though my biggest reason, albeit a little foolish, is because I really want this to exist. I’m frustrated that outside of Reddit’s /r/financialindependence, there’s no other viable online community. I’m frustrated feeling lost about my finances when I so desperately want to control them so I can achieve my ideal lifestyle.

Validating the idea

Even though I’m bullish on this, it’s important to validate your idea. Any experiment is an investment of time and money, so how can we know if this will work before we invest more heavily?

The Lean way

The Lean Startup Methodology would have us gather feedback at this preliminary stage. We would use a method to test whether this idea is worthwhile to pursue.

Common idea validation methods are user interviews, surveys, and “fake door” landing pages. These tests are designed to help you decide if the problem is real and what the right solution is for the problem.

Going against the grain

But I have two concerns about following that advice at this stage.

  1. I’m concerned that it will be time-consuming/challenging to seek out feedback before we have an MVP to show.
  2. It’s easy to get stuck before starting because you never leave the “gathering feedback” stage. I’m concerned that if I don’t start, I’ll lose motivation and never pick this up again.

I think at this preliminary stage our goal is to build a basic MVP (or MUP, minimum usable product, as Mubs calls them), then aggressively gather feedback to iterate.

However, it’s worthwhile to repeat that I’m inexperienced and I don’t know what I’m doing. In a future blog post, I can address whether I think this was a good idea in hindsight.

Is it worthwhile to even build an MVP?

Even though we’re not gathering feedback at this stage, we can still think critically about the idea so we don’t waste time building an MVP. Following similar questions that Mub’s asked himself in his Making a Side Project series, we can crystallize our idea.

Would I use this? Hell yes! I want more guidance to reach my FIRE goal.

Do I know people who would use this? Tons of millennials I know want to retire early. They’re even willing to work hard for it, but they want to adopt a system that works. They need a network to provide mentorship and a clear path to success.

Do I know where people who would use this hangout? Yes, /r/financialindependence and many big FIRE and retirement blogs.

Does something like this exist? Yes, but they’re mostly unmaintained forums and blogs.

Is it viable? We’ve seen Product Hunt, Nomad List, and Indie Hackers use this template to build real businesses on top of communities. In addition, we know this is a viable community hungry for more because of the traffic of the top bloggers in the space. Ironically, many bloggers receive so much traffic that they achieve financial independence by blogging about their FIRE journey.

How long will this take to build and launch it? What are the costs? I want to aim for 2 months of work. Outside of time, the only real cost will be domain and hosting which is close to $4-16/month.

How much time/money would this take to maintain? Same as the previous answer.

How will this make money? For my first project, I’m not concerned about making money. But there are plenty ways to do so if we can successfully build a community like:

  • Premium offering of joining the community chat
  • Advertising
  • Partnerships

We’re looking good, guys! FIRE Community is checking our boxes. In the next blog post, we’re going to outline our MUP.

Author: nicknish

Hey, I'm Nick! Product Developer freelancing. Ultimate rabble-rouser with heart. Exploring all things product, dev, and life.

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