Could lean startup method be used in Proakatemia?
Could lean startup method be used in Proakatemia?
The book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (2011) written by Eric Ries (2011) teaches how to avoid a failure that startups often face. The lean startup movement helps startups allocate their resources more effectively. The book gives good examples that can be used in startups and in our team companies at Proakatemia – after all we are startups trying to be as successful as we can in the time given to us and hopefully even after it.
When we have a vision of creating a company the idea often comes because we believe we have something our competitors don’t have, was it in the way we do something differently or was it something new that does not exist. At Proakatemia our business idea might be something simple like offering translation services just so we get our projects started and get the money to fund our dream projects. When we figure our dream project or come up with a new innovative idea we might be so excited of our product and hope we get overnight success that we might not realize entrepreneurship is about testing and learning faster than your competitors. This is where Eric Ries gives examples how test and learn faster without spending unnecessary time and money.
When having a great business idea, we mistakenly might think when we do market research, come up with a solid strategy and develop great product we will be guaranteed to have success. This often works in companies who have been doing what they are doing for years. But this does not work with startups because you are assuming what the market wants. We spend time and money developing so called perfect product without realizing there is not actually market for it. At Proakatemia we have the courage and drive to go with our gut feeling and have confidence in ourselves and in our team. However, sometimes the assumptions might be correct especially if you are creating something new that customers do not even know they might need or want. But what if your assumptions are wrong and you fail? We are taught that Proakatemia is a safe place to fail and you learn from it. And that is true, failure is not necessarily bad but what if we were a big startup with investor’s money on our project and then we fail? Then it might be a different thing and we wish we would have used the lean startup method.
In startups we need to build, measure and learn. This is the method Eric Ries came up with. Startups need to measure the reactions of customers after coming up with a product and learn from the customer’s reaction if your idea has been validated or there is something you need to adapt. You repeat this circle until your customers show clearly the product fits the market needs. Startup should figure the key assumptions that will determine the success of the startup and what is the cheapest and fastest way to test it. For testing build your minimum-viable product (MVP). MVP is a product made with a minimal amount of effort to test a specific value assumption. That product is not what you are proud of, you just need critical features for your test yield to get meaningful results. There are different ways to measure customer’s reactions and startups should find the way they can test the success of the product in a best way possible.
Assets what you learn. If your assumptions are confirmed, you are on the right track and can focus on refining the product and continue forward. But if one of your key assumptions in proven wrong you might need to pivot and rethink your product or market segmentation and start the rinse and repeat circle again to find what your customers really want. Entrepreneurs often go strongly forward with the idea they are passionate about. Yet there is more scientific approach to building a startup. Having a process to manage the uncertainty surrounding the startup can be a life saver and help the startup failing right in the beginning. As new team entrepreneurs we might not realize the importance of testing and research beforehand, we might be just so crazily passionate of our product that we want to launch it as fast as possible without really measuring the risks.
Ries created the model after his startup IMVU failed. However, if we follow the method we might not learn all the important things we could learn if we actually fail. After failing we come up wiser and stronger. But if we follow the lean startup method we can avoid wasting months of work. This can save hours and euros for a company. Even at Proakatemia we could use our time and money better if we were more aware of the model. Before pursuing with the idea in order to be successful and profitable it needs to be make sure your customers are as passionate about your product.
When finding out in the shortest time possible which of the efforts are valuable to the end users you might need to give up something of your original idea so you can fit the customer’s needs. This is not always easy when we are so sure we have a great product, me might get blind to our idea and not realize our customers might not see it the same way as we do. Instead of trusting too much on past experience, intuition and focus groups startups should develop minimum-viable product. When creating something fast and simple we can have a better view of what our product should actually be like.
So how we could validate our next idea or project? First step is user experience vision; come up with description from the start to an end, how it will be for the customer. Before coming up with high level product identify critical assumptions. Will the target customers actually buy the product? The validation comes from measuring the behavior of the target customers not gathering opinions of the general public or not only listening that our fellow team at Proakatemia would buy our product. Then it is time to build an early version to validate a critical assumption. There is many ways to test: you can use manual method to test an automated process or market your product without actually finishing the product and gather preorders. It is like launching a kick-start campaign before spending hours and hours to creating the actual product you think customers need. Using either concierge MVP or smoke screen MVP is more effective than sending surveys and gathering opinions or listening to your gut. After testing it is time to release the product to a small market and measure the customer’s behavior. Then it is time to pivot or persevere.
Even the lean startup method is great and we could avoid failure would we learn better from our projects if we used it? Or are we just too excited we don’t even realize it could help us? Either or so some of the examples Ries gives are something we already realize to use without been told so. The book was written almost 7 years ago and lot of startups have used those methods. As young team entrepreneurs most likely we have already seen those methods and picked few of them without acknowledging it. After all the process of testing and creating a MVP is a great way to learn – and that is why we are at Proakatemia instead of starting startups without any experience.