(Problem Interview) With the script from the last task, go and talk to 10-20 potential customers and document their feedback. Spend 20% of the time explaining and then spend 80% of the time learning.
Avoid friends and family, because they will be biased. You actually want to interview everyone, and not just your early adopters. The reason is because you want to get an objective "world view" on the problem you are trying to solve. You will learn a lot more if your sample is diverse.
You can also use StartitUp's community to get feedback.
Use this space to document their responses.
The BEST way to learn about your problem is by talking to people. There is no better way to do this. You do not need to build the solution first to test it. If the response to your problem confirms it, then move forward, if not then we need to either scrap or tweak our assumption, depending on how accurate or inaccurate your assumption is. Maybe you also have the target audience wrong, you might have to readjust your target audience.
People will not steal your idea. But if you're still very worried, script your interview so that you don’t reveal your solution. You can reveal your solution at the end, but that time you would already have found out if the interviewee is a potential customer.
Schedule these interviews through your product development. It’s important that you learn to develop and learn about your customers at the same time.
These people don’t all have to be your early adopters or target audience, because the problem with only selecting the target audience is that that might narrow your view. Go to the places where you think your potential customers go to. These people could be your 1st degree friends, their friends, your beta email list, etc.
By filtering out everyone and only targeting your perfect customers, you might run into the local maxima problem. Which is that when you only ask a selected demographics of people, you only get 1 type of response, which may result in tunnel vision for you. It also means that you maybe be building a good feature for 1000 people when you can be building a great feature for 100,000 people.
Also, your friends and family might be too polite (or brutally biased in some cases - older brothers anyone?), so it’s not bad to interview them, but do take note if the results are overly positive.