I’d like to provide an electricity company a service they can use to better serve their customers. The service I'm considering will be via mobile text to remind prepaid and monthly accounts of low balance and to recharge.
In my experience the best thing to do is to get a variety of inputs. I'm assuming you have a solution to offer, so why not run this past a couple of people? Preferably with industry knowledge but it doesnt have to be a must. You can practice your pitch, discover points you haven't thought of before and even have somebody play devils advocate.
It's a learning opportunity!
There are various methods of idea validation. I am listing the ways that are suitable in your case:
1. Run a Survey: You can ask the customers of the electricity company to fill up the survey form with questions like - whether they will use your service or not? How may they are willing to pay to the extra service/better service and other important questions. This will validate your idea and you can show it to the electricity company as a proof of prospective demand.
2. Expert Opinion: You can approach few experts in the electricity and distribution domain. Ask them to provide their opinion about your idea. If you get a positive feedback then you can show this to the electricity company for your support.
3. Influencing recommendation: You can approach people in Government/Administration who can recommend you for this idea. Take their views in written, this will actually serve as a validation and will also support you in pitching.
4. Competitor analysis: Prepare a competitor analysis report and find out whether such services already exist in the world. If you can find similar services that are successful then you can think the idea is validated.
5. Advisor: You can approach an advisor who can consult you about the idea and will validate through thorough analysis. I am an advisor who have validated more than 500 such ideas.
I will be happy to discuss more over a call if you wish. All the best. God bless you.
I agree with Mr. Gupta. If it were me, I'd interview at least 100 people (customers of the electricity company) and ask them a bunch of questions. Then you know whether you have a business or not and if so, can approach the company and say "67% of the people I interviewed think this is a problem and they'd like you (the electricity company) to help them with it."
Understand that most public utilities in the US are regulated and most are monopolies so asking them to spend money to coddle their customers may not be something they are amenable to.
There are companies like OPower that do this. They were recently acquired by Oracle.
That being said, almost everyone I know uses the autopay feature with their utility company and it goes directly to a credit card so no worry about low balances, etc.
They used MVP Approach Before Launching. This experiment proved to be a really effective way to survey the target market.