Answer by Ron Rule, CTO of As Seen On TV, on Quora

One thing I've learned from my industry: surveys don't mean jack. Customers don't know what they want until they see it.

Take the Snuggie, for example. Explaining the product to focus groups and even showing it in person wasn't met with very favorable feedback. Heck, I myself was 100% positive it would never work and every media dollar allocated to it would be a waste. ""The blanket with sleeves", what the heck does that even mean, it's a freaking robe you put on backwards so you can sit around your house looking like a 16th century druid. No one is going to buy this."

$100 million later it's still selling.

Likewise, we've had just as many products come through that everyone thought would be a home run and they didn't perform.

If you really want to vet an idea, throw it up on Kickstarter. Let people put their money where their mouth is.

But putting that aside, only you know whether it's worth pursuing or not. I don't know what your survey size was, but if you have actual paying customers who are willing to pay more for a new feature or add-on service, that's worth something. But honestly man, people really have no idea what they want (and more importantly what they're willing to pay for) until it's in front of them and they can get that instant gratification from having it.

Heck, look at Twitter... imagine trying to explain what Twitter was before anyone had ever heard of it, I doubt you'd find very many people who would have been excited about it.

How do I know whether to go forward with my startup?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:


Published on: Jun 23, 2015