Evaluating the Market for Whisper Walk

Before spending months working on a product, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a market for it to begin with. How can you tell? What questions should you be asking yourself? In this post I’m applying the checklist 10 Ways to Evaluate a Market 1 to Whisper Walk.

Background

Whisper Walk is an app that lets you explore and walk freely while a voice whispers in your ear roughly which direction to walk. I have written about it before here and here.

Ten Ways to Evaluate a Market

This is a simple test to quickly evaluate a market to see how attractive it is. Each question is graded on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is the most attractive. A total score above 75 is good, and below 50 it should be scrapped. 50-75 is a gray zone where it might work but requires a lot of effort.

I have tried to be conserative in my estimates. This test was also done after-the-fact. In the future, it is wiser to do it beforehand.

Urgency

How badly do people want or need this right now?

I personally felt a strong urge for it at the time. I walk a lot in new cities and I hated having to look at my phone all the time. I still do. Objectively speaking, this isn’t something a lot of people are craving for right this moment.

Score: 3

Market Size

How many people are actively purchasing things like this?

People purchase navigation apps, but they are mostly for cars. I have paid for a walking app called WalkIt in the past, and it seems fairly succesful. Thinking more broadly, there are also apps for audio guide and geocaching which people pay for. They have a different value proposition but uses similar mechanics.

Score: 3

Pricing Potential

What is the highest average price a purchaser would be willing to spend for a solution?

Without additional features such as walking guides for specific cities, probably less than $10.

Score: 3

Cost of Customer Acquisition

How easy is it to acquire a new customer? On average, how much will it cost to generate a sale, both in money and effort?

There’s definitely a hurdle in getting people to install an app, since they can’t easily try it beforehand. Getting discovered in the App Store is fairly difficult as well, unless you start climbing the rankings. I am not sure how to evaluate this criteria though.

Score: 3

Cost of Value-Delivery

How much would it cost to create and deliver the value offered, both in money and effort?

Mostly a matter of upfront investment in terms of development. Building a non-trival app takes a non-trivial amount of time. It can be solo though, and other than that costs are low.

Score: 7

Uniqueness of Offer

How unique is your offer versus competing offerings in the market, and how easy is it for potential competitors to copy you?

There are already voice navigation apps out there (such as Google Maps), but in my opinion they aren’t anywhere near good enough for walking. Whisper Walk makes an effort to do voice navigation like a friend would whisper directions to you. In terms of solutions to the problem of walking from A to B, the offer isn’t substantially different from using Google or Apple maps.

Score: 4

Speed to Market

How quickly can you create something to sell?

It took a few months to get it to the App Store. I could have put a price on it, but I wanted to validate that this was a product people wanted enough in the first place before charging for more premium features.

Score: 6

Up-Front Investment

How much will you have to invest before you’re ready to sell?

Apple license of $100 to put the app in the App Store. A pair of walking shoes considering how much I field tested it.

Score: 8

Up-Sell Potential

Are there related secondary offers that you could also present to purchasing customers?

There’s a natural path to adding in-app purchases for premium features such as: more immediate and relevant navigation advice, preprogrammed destinations, walking tours, bookmarks, etc.

Score: 7

Evergreen Potential

Once the initial offer has been created, how much additional work will you have to put into it in order to continue selling?

It’s an app, people click and buy it.

Score: 10

Summary

Total score: 54 / 100

This is very borderline. You can quibble about the specific numbers chosen. But the fact remains that for it to be a success requires some deep thinking on where it falls short, and a substantial energy and effort investment.

This is not a be-all-end-it-all. Sometimes you just want to try something without worrying about the market. In that case it should probably be a side project or timeboxed to a week or two.

If you are working on creating your own product, this is a useful test to apply. Especially since it takes you 30m and saves you dozens or hundreds of hours of work.

Subscribe to stay up to date