Monday, August 1, 2011

Lean Startup Machine New York

This past weekend I participated in the Lean Startup Machine New York event. The event is dedicated to learning various practices of Lean Startups, particularly customer development.

On Thursday evening, we had a networking event to help form teams, and an introduction to the weekend. David Tisch, director of Techstars NY was a guest speaker. We continued the networking and team formation on friday evening, by when teams were solidified and teams started customer development.

I used the weekend to build on the Class Guru concept. I was lucky to be part of a team, which consisted of Vidar Brekki, CEO and founder of Social Intent, Seni Thomas, CEO and Foudner of Audience Amplify, and Paul Infield-Harm, Director of Product Development at Cyrus Innovation.

We started with discussions on the various directions that Class Guru could go in, and what problems people face in taking classes. While we had different perspectives on problems in taking classes, we were able to reach a consensus for a hypothesis by Saturday morning. From then on we conducted several iterations, each of which consisted of setting a hypothesis of the customer problem and the solution that we would provide, supporting assumptions and designing experiments on how to validate or invalidate the hypothesis. While we did do some facebook ads and landing page tests. By Sunday, we completed three iterations and presented our findings to the judges in a presentation.

The judges decided the winners based on how effectively they applied the customer development process. The teams that won this competition seemed to have learned the most; in most cases, they started with one idea, invalidated it through customer interactions and pivoted to another idea based on customer feedback.

I feel that I learned a lot about the customer development process; in particular how much can be achieved even during a single weekend. I have done customer development before, but it was the first time that I actually walked on the streets, stopping and interviewing random people. Excellent experience!

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