Lean Startup Machine NYC: April 12 – 14, 2013

LSM and Initial Thoughts:

Lean Startup Machine is a movement aimed to educate entrepreneurs and industry professionals alike on how to build products that people actually want.  Using Lean Startup methodology, LSM is a 3-day workshop where 50 people gather, pitch ideas for a product and teams form around those pitches.  At the end of the weekend, winning teams are chosen based on how well each team adhered to the process and how they were able to handle change throughout the journey.  Teams are not judged on how marketable or creative a product idea is.   Although many people who attend the workshop were entrepreneurs, I participated interested in the methodology and how it can be applied in enterprise situations.  Also, LSM is NOT a hackathon.  I was actually surprised to see that a majority of the participants were not developers but come from another discipline within tech or even different industries.

General Process:

The teams are tasked to adhere and focus on a specific methodology centered on the “Validation Board” which is used to focus energy on honing in on who the customer of the product will be (customer hypothesis), what problem the customer has (problem hypothesis) and eventually what a potential solution will be (solution hypothesis- product).  The board is visible and physical (sticky notes and pen on a paper chart).  As these hypotheses are made, assumptions are made and recorded on the board.  Out of these assumptions, a “riskiest assumption” (the assumption that if invalidated, will invalidate a hypothesis) is singled out.  The next steps are to attempt to invalidate this assumption through an interview process (validation criteria is subjective and chosen by the team beforehand) where the team hits the street and cold interviews potential customers.  If the validation criteria are met after the customer interviews, the team can agree to persevere or pivot.  Pivoting means changing the customer or problem hypothesis or eventually the solution hypothesis.  A pivot should be informed only by data collected through the interview process.  This is the general idea for what we like to call an experiment.  As we pivot through (iterate) experiments, the team should have a much better sense of how to focus energy creating a product.  It is (and should be) rare that a product idea continues along without some sort of a pivot.

The next big step is to validate a solution hypothesis.  A good way to do this is through a “pitch” method where again you hit the streets and talk to actual potential customers- but this time the goal is to collect data and “currency” to gauge interest in the solution idea.  A quick and powerful way to do this is to build a simple landing page for the product and solicit for email addresses, Twitter handles etc…  Throw this information into the landing page and it is easy to capture metrics and send these potential early adopters product updates.

After going through this process, teams are able to build a solid understanding of how to create a foundation and direction for something that people actually want.

Check out my experiences over the weekend!