From 6pm on Friday (Oct 18th 2013) to 6pm on Sunday (Oct 20th) I participated in the Lean Startup Machine event in New York City. This workshop taught participants, through practical exercises, the importance of validating an idea for a product before building it. By going out on the streets and talking to strangers, we were able to understand who would be the target customer, pinpoint their most impending problem, and verify if the hypotheses about them were true.
On Friday evening, I pitched the idea for a mobile application for parents to be able to track their small children in public spaces ( in case the get lost). Two participants were interested in working with me and we spent the rest of the weekend validating the idea that 1- Yes parents would want this 2- Losing track of children in public was a concern for them and 3-They would trust a mobile app to find their kids. After hours of interviewing parents in parks around NYC, the team found out that moms (not dads) were the ones who were more worried about losing their children in public; that yes this is a constant concern; and that they would be interested in a technological solution for this. A process that would usually take weeks, if not months, done in two days.
Overall, the Lean StartUp Machine aims to teach participants the Lean Startup methodology that has become the product development norm is the startup world. If you are interested, this is a lean version of this seminal book: The Lean Startup. When you come to think of it the whole approach makes sense. One can spend copious time and money building a product on the assumption that people will buy it. Only to find out latter that customers don’t want it because the product does not really solve their problem. Applying a lean approach, you can create a product having minimum functionalities and test it for demand from the get go. By interviewing people on the streets, you can find out who your target customers are and discover their real problem so you can create a product that will wow them.
I want to practice this approach in my future work. I am studying to be a developer and I hope to start creating web products in a few months. To have practiced the lean startup approach will allow me to be a better product builder for myself or for any business that hire me. Entrepreneurs create products to make other people’s lives better, but in order to achieve this, they need to verify that their assumptions are true and the they are on the right track periodically. This weekend I discovered that the best way to achieve this is by getting out of the comfort zone and talking to strangers.