We are in the process of validating our startup idea with the target users of our platform. They are mainly people in apprenticeship (technical). We want to provide them with a free service while generating revenue from company paying to access the service. Since the product is free for the apprentices, what question/strategy would you use to see if they have real intent to use the service? When the product is meant to be sold, there are strategies where you try to close a sale. But in the case of free product, how do you do or what question would you ask?
Speak at Co-Work offices + Tech Meetups + Tech Conferences.
Give 100 talks (easier than you think) + monitor your App usages every 10 talks.
If people flock to your App, then just keep giving talks.
If they don't, then either your App requires retooling or your messaging/explanation requires retooling.
Be sure that you (or person speaking) has the ability to speak about tech topics in understandable terms.
Don't be afraid to challenge your audience.
Ask them what they do now to solve the problem (that you are solving), what is lacking in their current options, what the ideal option would be, why they do or do not utilize other options, etc.
Find out the upside for your audience, without one your service will remain a passing fad at best.
Your premise is to convert unemployed users into paid users. You see the challenge you are creating? Your future income is dependent upon your unemployed users' future income. If you are going to offer free use to gain ux feedback then partner with high-performance startups that can be converted into paying customers at a designated date. Choose a process that enables income and not one that inhibits it. My deep experience includes identifying and developing early stage money. Yes, we should talk soon.
This is a common question with "free" platforms/apps. How do I know if my users are using the platform and for what purpose. I am making the following assumptions about your product
1. Your product is in beta testing and you haven't started monetizing it yet
2. The apprentices that you speak of are freelancers who will use your platform to complete the task and the company who uses these freelancers will pay platform fees.
If I am wrong about these assumptions, please let me know and I can approach the question differently.
There are a few ways you can approach this.
1. When someone signs up or downloads your application, clearly identify that they are participating in the beta test of the product. They agree to submit usage information every day/week/month. You can then reach out to them to collect data
2. Send surveys to users to get feedback
3. Analytics if there is a way for you to monitor online how they are using your platform
Essentially, there is no Free Lunch. If they are using your platform for free, they agree to provide data in return.
Happy to chat more if you'd like to figure out a clear strategy of how to engage with your users for data collection. I specialize in customer discovery and have helped many companies with early stage development and market validation.
Best of luck with your venture!
Unfortunately, you likely can't ask them that intent. I worked with Knowclick, which is a company that combines surveys with analytics of user behavior to try to derive intent. And, it's interesting that people often say and do quite different things. But for intent with a social platform, first you have to get them hooked on the value. You can ask them basic questions about value or features they would like to see. Or, employ an NPS survey mentality. Ask them how likely they are to refer the platform to others on a ranking from 0-10. In order to build the platform, you need scores of 8-10 that indicates that you have evangelists who enjoy or see so much value they are eager to tell others about. If you haven't read Platform Revolution, I'd it for a primer on challenges and strategies to building out both audiences -- including one that pays and one that doesn't-- in a timely manner.
I think it would be as simple as asking questions about whether apprentices are having issues finding an apprenticeship or getting experience. You also have to ask the businesses that you are attracting to pay if they have problems finding apprentices. Make sure you do ample research on what already exists out there because this could speed up your market fit by essentially copying what others have built, and building on what is wrong with the platforms.
If you need more guidance, reach out to me, I'm here to help you!