Welcome to Nextt Experiments!

Use the FAQ below to get to know us a bit better

Nextt is a platform for prospective entrepreneurs to test and validate ideas before going full time or trying to raise money. We launched a ten week accelerator program in mid 2016, received 100+ applications from five continents, graduated eight projects and created multiple venture-funded businesses in the process.

We’re now testing ways to scale our system for open and permissionless innovation (i.e. experimentation) to more people in more places at more times. Nextt Experiments is one of these ways.

Because we see them as the fastest and cheapest way to validate highly risky but potentially valuable uses of time: ideas.

The word “experiment” itself isn’t in the common business vernacular. Many have heard it before, but it means a lot of different things to a lot of people.

Nevertheless, we had 100 applicants from 5 continents for our last cohort and 70% proposed what we considered to be reasonable experiments. This was quite encouraging: it told us that given some constraints (e.g. just one day of just your time) most people naturally understood what we meant and could propose reasonable experiments.

Our primary learning: the key to proposing a reasonable experiment is setting clear constraints.

The goal of experimentation is to get your idea out into the world quickly, and generate actionable data/feedback with minimum investment. Constraints matter because they force you to focus and prioritize.

  • By constraining the time you have to allocate to something, you’re more focused in the the time you do have.

  • With cash constraints, you spend carefully and waste less.

  • With people constraints, you focus on what and who really matters to creating your experiment and maximizing learning.

And what’s fascinating is that rather than limiting you, constraints actually breed creativity.

We limit the amount of money an experiment can raise ($5,000) and the number of people you need to recruit to make it happen (3 external contributors). To align incentives, we cap the amount people can charge for contributing time/skills to a Nextt Experiment at $100 per hour. This isn’t meant to be a get rich quick scheme for anyone :)

Experiments are not for building the ultimate version of your product. While it’s great to have a product vision that you believe will delight customers, the reality is that you have to start somewhere. In our experience, it’s an awful waste of time and money to jump right into building the ultimate version of your product.

You inevitably end up learning something about your product or market that changes things...and you’ve got to re-build or sometimes build something totally different. On top of that, most people don’t have the time or money to invest in building the ultimate version right away anyway. It may seem doable, until you get into the thick of things.

  • A binary outcome: you’ll either decide to pursue your current vision more seriously, or you’ve learned that you need to take another route.

  • Predictable forms of data: this could be quantitative or qualitative.

  • A clear answer: great experiment answers at least one question really well. Most great ideas start with a pretty big lens (and rightfully so!); a good experiment helps you whittle it down to a more specific target customer (early adopter) and value proposition (which pain point you should solve).

Whew, there’s a lot to unpack here! Coming up with a great experiment can be tricky, let alone articulating your experiment in a compelling way. First, you should always feel free to email us personally with any questions or requests for help on your Nextt Experiment. We work actively with every submitter to make their experiment as likely to succeed as possible!

In any case, here’s what we’ve learned about designing great experiments:

  • Think about the simplest way you can solve (or create a solution for) the problem you’re focusing on. The faster you can validate that your target audience actually wants your solution and that you can service that demand (even on a small scale), the better.

  • Think about who the early adopters of your idea might be and how you can find them. Who among on your target audience is easiest to reach? How/where will you reach them? Who feels the pain of the problem you’re trying to solve most?

  • Know your audience, and tailor your message to them. Your first audience is you: you want to generate clarity about the business viability of your idea. You’ve also got your collaborators and helpers. They want to feel involved, compensated, and appreciated, and learn something in the process. Lastly, you’ve got your backers, which could include friends and family, potential investors, industry people, and press. They all want to see how you execute, communicate, and what you learn. So, make sure you communicate clearly, launch on time, have clear goals & keep them updated along the way.

You! We encourage anyone to post an experiment.

  • Who you are is less important than how you think about approaching problems: an ideal experiment comes from a place of genuine curiosity about answering a question and passion for solving a specific problem. Above all, try to keep it simple, and know that these are experiments, not brand new products (yet): test first, learn, then build.

  • Posting an experiment doesn’t take long at all. If you’ve got a clear idea in mind already, an experiment can take less than 20 minutes to get up and going. But, feel free to take your time with it: you can always write down the questions, save them for later to do some research before you submit an idea.

  • The best way we’ve found for people to submit ideas quickly is to be thinking about problems they experience in their day to day lives all the time. Once you identify those problems, they’ll be great fodder for experiment material -- and potentially grow into businesses!

Once you post an experiment to Nextt, our team will review it and give you feedback on what you submit. This isn’t only for a grammar check; we’ll give you feedback on the concept and your proposed methods as well.

We’ll get back to you with any feedback as well as a go-live date for your experiment campaign. The go-live date is the date when the timer starts for your campaign to raise the funds you need to get your idea off the ground. We’ll of course work with you to decide on the right go-live date for you. Once the experiment campaign clock starts ticking, you’ll have a fixed amount of time (6 weeks) to raise the funds you need to launch your experiment.

Now that your experiment campaign is out in the wild and the clock is ticking, we’ll follow up with weekly goal setting reminders and tactics. This is to help you stay on track towards your funding goal over the period of time you’re raising money. The tips should help spark some inspiration around how you might get more backing. Mainly, you can expect to receive tips on creating a targeted contact list, creating an outreach and engagement plan for your campaign, sending thank yous and follow ups to your backers, and suggestions around additional content you might create to engage your audience.

First of all, congrats! Getting your experiment fully funded is a fantastic achievement. We’re excited to see the results of your experiment.

After an experiment is fully funded, you should plan on thanking your backers and showing them what your next steps are: they’ll want to be in the loop and tag along for the ride once you start your experiment.

It’s important to deliver on the promise of keeping your backers up to date on your project. We recommend a communication to them at least every two weeks with specifics about your progress. We’ll help you out here with templates that you can use based on what backers typically look for in a project. Remember: your early backers are in a way your first customers and they’ll want to be along for the ride. Communicating with them only helps your case should you need to raise money again in the future, recruit more collaborators, or need connections that they might facilitate.

After you’ve launched your experiment and reported back on your findings, you’ll need to decide what’s next for your project.

It’s best to ask yourself a few questions:

  • How did it go? Are you encouraged? Discouraged? Either way: why?

  • Based on what you learned, where do you want to go next with the project?

  • If you plan to continue on with it, what’s your next milestone? Recruiting more collaborators? Building more product? Hitting a marketing / acquisition goal? Will you need funding in order to do that?

  • What are your options and tactics you’ll take in order to reach that milestone?

The answers to each of these questions aren’t only valuable to you in the decision making process. Your helpers, backers, and other stakeholders will want to know what you’re up to next and why. Once you write your answers down, they’re a great thing to share with people who have been close to your project.

Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, the primary incentive for backing an experiment on Nextt is data. Experiment backers get early, exclusive and ongoing access to all the data, information and feedback the experiment generates. Makers specify on their experiment pages what kind of information backers can expect and at what pace.

In addition to data, backers also get to build a relationship with the maker -- and it's entirely possible that backers could turn into co-founders, investors or acquirers down the line.

Anyone can offer to help an experiment. However, you’ll want to identify specific skills that you’re looking for that would be most helpful to you in building and testing. Typical roles include software engineer, data scientist, copywriter, and designer. But feel free to ask for skills that might be unique to your project: perhaps you are looking for a subject matter expert in finance or in education. Remember that if you already have people committed to helping out, add them first to claim their spot (this will also show potential backers some activity on your page and traction for your project, making them more likely to contribute).

Incentives for helpers run the gamut from purely giving back to others as they’ve been helped in their career to networking with entrepreneurial-minded people. Often helpers say that they want to stay connect to new ideas and “What’s next” as well as adding something awesome to their own resume, or simply creating, making, and doing.