How should a digital start up do market research

I love doing innovation research and brand development - what does that mean? Well, it's like the work we did when I was lucky enough to create an energy drink that outsold Coke (NZ/Oz), we separated validating the idea, the core product idea from the brand development - they aren't the same thing. I've looked around on-line and I couldn't find much written about how to help digital start ups and I wanted to share my experience. (I"ve worked on lots of digital start-ups.)  One of the challenges start-ups tend to have is they are lean on resources so they can't afford a research agency. 

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