Every year there seems to be a few buzzwords that are echoed throughout the marketing community. Last year, words like freemium, green, socialsphere, and actionable dominated entrepreneurial and executive conversations. This year, I’ve noticed a trend toward trimming the fat. This year, it’s about being lean. Whether you’re literally cutting weight, bootstrapping your startup, or evaluating potential business ideas, you can’t escape the lean methodology.
Without much background on the concept, I decided to see what the lean craze was all about. Last week I attended The Lean Startup Machine workshop, held at Comerge, an open workspace in downtown San Diego. The event was designed to be a three-day immersive workshop, which delved into the lean startup methodology and its application for product, customer, and business development.
“The lean startup is a term/process coined by Eric Reis, which involves rapid, iterative prototyping to test assumptions to develop a product that customers actually desire.”
The event kicked off with a series of product pitches that helped attendees organize into their teams. Each team then developed their problem hypothesis, solution hypothesis and a series of assumptions which could affect the success of the business. After defining a problem, solution and assumptions, each team created a MVP, or “Minimum Viable Product” to test expectations. The goal of the MVP test was to #GetOutOfTheBuilding, speak with real customers and to collect cash or non-cash currency which served as validation or invalidation of those assumptions.
“Non-cash currency: a behavior that demonstrate intent to use product or features. Non-cash currency can range from verbal validation, to email submission or letters of intent to use the product.”
The process promotes a problem-centric approach to business ideation. By continuously validating or invalidating assumptions, teams were forced to pivot their solution (and even problem identification) toward a true customer pain; rather than creating a solution and seeking customers with the problem. The event culminated with each team pitching their new solutions and their experience using the process. In this competition the winning team was not selected based on who had the best idea, but instead on which team had honored the process and gained the most insights through their pivots.
All in all, I can truly say that this event has been one of the most exciting business related workshops I have attended. By completely immersing myself in the process, my understanding of “lean methodology” is far greater than if I had merely read the The Lean Startup book. I highly recommend this event to anyone who is interested in exploring their entrepreneurial spirit or thinking about starting a business, and I am looking forward to attending more events like this in the future.
For a more in-depth look at my team’s process, stay tuned for May’s webinar where I will go through a detailed overview of the methodology and my group’s experience developing our business idea.
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