Innovate Around “Deadly Sins” And Other Golden Nuggets from StartupDay In Seattle

According to Wikipedia, the lean startup is defined as:

the method advocates the creation of rapid prototypes designed to test market assumptions, and uses customer feedback to evolve them much faster than via more traditional product development practices, such as the Waterfall model. It is not uncommon to see Lean Startups release new code to production multiple times a day[2], often using a practice known as Continuous Deployment[3].

According to Eric Ries, this might be satisfactory.  But he believes the Lean Startup is defined as:

An experiment.

I recently attended StartupDay in Seattle, where speakers touched on a variety of subjects to help early stage founders and would be entrepreneurs along their startup path.  As the keynote speaker, Reis explained how the process of building a startup is evolving from the waterfall ideology to a more agile and lean approach.

“Your goal is to determine if there is a cheaper way to test and validate your assumptions.”

Ries hammered home the idea that a startup really is just an experiment, where you are testing a set of assumptions as cheap as possible.  If proven wrong, you “pivot” towards a new set of assumptions and continue down the path of establishing a scalable and repeatable business model.

“The goal is to Reduce the time between pivots, increase odds and runway so your company can survive until you find a repeatable and scalable model.”

He also noted the new approach to The startup Way, focusing on four areas of the company.

  • people
  • culture
  • process
  • accountability

Among a number of new terms, Validated Learning jumps out at me as something to internalize.  It is a process on determining value and waste… Then optimize accordingly.  Find the value (what is working) and do more of it.  Find the waste (what is not) and put it aside, leave it behind.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Well yes.  Yet it is funny how so many startups fail because they did not get to the point of repeatable value creation.  What Reis is saying is “get to this point as fast as you can”.  So measure everything.  Study it and validate your learning.

To sum it up, here are 3 things to focus on if you are a founder:

  • Establish the baseline MVP
  • Tune the engine
  • Pivot or persevere

Other notable speakers include:

Brian Wong
Kiip – As a young founder, Wong laid out six thoughts to help first time entrepreneurs on their journey.

1. Set the direction
2. Law of serendipity
3. You = motivator
4. Won’t have a clue
5. No time to spend
6. Crazy things

Rand Fishkin

SEOmoz – Rand spoke on the challenging topic of Failure, noting that it happens to all of us and how we approach it will determine our success.

  • Fail early
  • Have metrics
  • Fail survivably

Ask yourself the hard questions

  • do we have wrong assumptions?
  • do we have the wrong people?
  • odds we screw up again?
Glenn Kelmann
Redfin -Glenn had some great advice on how best to approach the initial stages of your product, everything from focusing on “problems in your life” to “deadly sins”.
  • Build off of others ideas
  • Delight the first user
  • Focus on Seven deadly sins

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