When starting a business, you invest large amounts of your personal savings in developing the product and the infrastructure, you mortgage your house to access the finance to launch it on an unsuspecting marketâŠand, regardless of indifferent and negative signals from the market, you battle on regardlessâŠ..itâs dogged determination and blind faith that countsâŠ.RIGHT!...
The message from this workshop is that NO, NO, NO that is totallyâŠ. WRONG! Welcome to the world of Lean Startup.
Lean Startup, introduced by Eric Ries in his book 2011The Lean Startup, provides a model for developing a business idea based on exposing your product/service to the market as early and as cheaply as possible. This enables you to start a process of learning and iteration which increases the likelihood of developing a product/service with features that customers actually want, or to identify the lack of demand for such a service before time and money is wasted.
A number of key quotes underpin the approach; one is to prevent you from being in a position in which you wistfully say âI wish Iâd known that soonerâ. The other is to ask yourself, âIf my business idea is to be a success, what things need to be trueâ. The latter quote allows you to establish a set of hypotheses which you can then test through talking to potential customers, experimentation and using information resources like those held in the Business & IP Centre.
The âIntroduction to Lean Startup Workshopâ was delivered by Jordan Schlipf of Founder-Centric at the Centre in December. Jordan took the delegates on a lively journey introducing the 3 key Lean Startup tools:
- Customer Development
- Business Model Canvas
- Minimum Viable Products
Jordan contrasted a perception that developing a business was a linear process with the reality that it was full of twists and turns and was more like a âbowl of spaghettiâ.
His presentation was peppered with relevant and entertaining case studies such as the case of Zappos.com. When the founders looked at the potential for selling shoes online they took photographs of shoes from a local shoe shop and presented these on a simple website. When an order came through they manually bought them from the shop and sent them to the customer. This supplied them with plenty of information on customer behaviours around which to develop their business model. This is a classic example of the application of lean.
The workshop was part of the BLâs contribution to the Open Innovation Project funded by Interreg IVB NWE and Lean will be a major focus for us in 2014.
A final word on Lean StartUp is a quote from Nick Imrie: âWe used to have lean startup in my day too..we called it common senseâ.
Keep an eye on our Workshops and Events calendar for our next Lean Startup workshop in 2014.
Nigel Spencer on behalf of the Business & IP Centre