Finally it was so far. On Friday the 24th The Lean Startup Machine circus visited Amsterdam…
Lean Startup Machine is a three-day workshop where attendees use Customer Development and Lean Startup principles to validate an idea for a new product or service.
You Learn to build what customers want.
As a user of Lean Startup, helping own clients to find solutions, their clients really want, I was very interested to “validate” the methodology I designed using to do Customer Interviews and build MVP’s based on books and meetings I joined in Berlin. Besides learning, I am also interested in B2C concepts and market places, as my focus in my business is completely B2B. And last but not least meeting new people and share experiences.
The idea of the workshop is to “Learn to build what customers want” within 2,5 days in a weekend. Quiet challenging, if in practice we looking for the problem/solution fit takes many weeks to get the right appointments. Actually many innovative companies and startups assume their solution is the right one for the problem. But at first they need to validate if the problem exists and 2nd they need to find the behavior how the problem is solved now.
The Lean Startup Machine designed a Validation Board (see example below). The Validation Board is tested on hundreds of users that validated their experiments for Customer Interviews and find the right Problem/Solution fit.
After the pitches I joined the team focussing on Social Delivery of packages. We got out of the building to the post-office and after an hour of interviewing we discovered that there are not to many private people who send a package (we could have validate this on ourselves), the post office is doing their job well and as one of the interviewees said ” the post-office is there already for more the 100 years, why should this change…”. Off course we discovered small pains like “It is hard to estimate how many stamps I have to use” and ” sending a package to Belgium is much more expensive then send the package from Belgium to the Netherlands. Why?..”. As these pains were not validated and to small to continue, we need to make a big Pivot. In other words delivering packages is hardly a pain and Social Delivery will not solve so much that you can make a business out of it.
So what now?
As the Social Delivery Service was not our baby we were dreaming about to be our startup, it was quiet easy to look for another challenge. After presenting more problems we unanimously decided that providing a cooking/party facility may solve the challenges from people who love to cook for friends, but do not like to do shopping’s, the dishes or simply do not have the space for a cooking party. It was the decided in half an hour and after an hour we were standing o the market, interviewing people that look like they would fit within our target group (people that love to cook, so have a big bag of shopping’s). To speed up the process we decided to offer the solution immediatly. We offered to reserve a cooking/party facility on a known address (The Hub, the place of the workshop). In case interviewees would like to make reservation, it was booked coming days, to create an urgency to book fast. If interviewees didn’t want to make a reservation, we asked their email addresses for the news letter. The results was 9 email addresses out of 10 interviewees.
Same evening we made a landingpage to get reservations out of Internet. As was it a Saterday evening, we knew it would be hard. Twittering, setting up an AdWords- and a Marktplaats campaign delivered us the first insights and would for sure work when we had more time. But unfortunatly no reservations. Also not on Sunday morning.
Next day, so Sunday morning, we realized that having own cooking locations would be way to expensive to make sustainable business. So we needed to find locations. We called and emailed home restaurants (thuis restaurants) and Airbnb house owners if they would like to provide their facility for the cooking experience. Unfortunatly on Sunday afternoon most of these people are not so interested to pick up their phone or reply their email fast, but we got one positive response from an Airbnb house owner.
I am sure if we would have a week longer with this team we would find the right product/solution fit. Next step would be product/market fit that is off course much more challenging but it is very inspiring to see what you can reach in a weekend with a good method/tool like The Validation Board and a very motivated team that wants to get everything out of the weekend.
It was inspiring to see what you can reach in a weekend with 4 people, you didn’t know before. Actually I had many experiences where a motivated team is reaching much more then you would ever expect before (especially in software development). The challenges are always if you have the right focus and how to motivate the team?
I would like to thank the organization, the mentors, the jury, the people from the hub and off course my great “Cookozy” team. Hopefully we get in touch and we see some of the pitches becoming real startups.