Taking an idea to market can be a daunting task sometimes. As an entrepreneur, pumping money almost immediately at the development stage of your idea is not a guarantee that you will succeed in capturing the market and scaling very fast. Rather, an entrepreneur should devise low cost experiments to disprove a concept before it is too late. Before you launch your idea bid, it is critical to take it first on a pilot test. Although pilot programs are nothing new but most entrepreneurs rarely give their business ideas sufficient time to play out. Before PayLater evolved into the several value propositions they have now, they had to test the market with a web enabled application offering only loans, and then they introduced its mobile application after gaining traction and a strong market presence with its pilot product. Afterwards, PayLater introduced utility services such as buying airtime, paying NEPA bills etc. and now today, they introduced ‘PayVest – an investment scheme that offers you 15.5% ROI per annum on a stipulated investment. You will realize that PayLater is gradually capturing value across digital banking, investment and our everyday needs.

What PayLater did is called an INTEGRATED EXPERIMENT –these are designed to test how various elements – the actual business model and operations – work together. In essence, they involve launching business, or some part of, in miniature. An integrated experiment may be a pilot, a test –site location, a prototype, or any other trial operation. It might include tests to ‘launch’ the business in a way that allows customers to purchase the product in a real transactional environment.

The opposite of integrated experiment which is targeted experiment is designed to pinpoint deal-killers or path dependent risks. Examples might include running tests on battery life before launching a new portable device; checking for toxicity in a drug before running full-scale efficiency tests, and testing bandwidth and connectivity concerns before launching an online learning program at various locations across the country.

When I started TRUbiker, a pick-up and delivery business, the goal is to launch a full tech startup but we have to experiment by operating a traditional transactional system side by side with a digital integrative system to know which will be most effective.

This strategy helped us to understand a single-demand-market with two different mindsets, especially when it comes to responsiveness to placing an order. That is to say, there are two kinds of merchants that typically need delivery service – those who are digital savvy merchants and those who just believe in making a call. Now that we are launching a full mobile application in the coming months, we have a better understanding of these two markets through the application of integrative experiment, and we have been able to develop a digital operating model that still has that traditional transactional feel.

Without a pilot experiment, we may not be able to decipher this. Targeted experiments such as surveys and focus groups can provide insights, but those that come from placing the product in a sales channel where customers make actual purchase decisions are often much deeper.

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