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Lessons Learned from Lean Startup Machine Toronto

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Lessons Learned from Lean Startup Machine Toronto

Lean Startup Machine is a three-day workshop where attendees use Customer Development and Lean Startup principles to validate an idea for a new product or service.

It’s happening THIS weekend in Toronto, October 25 – 27th at INcubes  (For more info – http://www.leanstartupmachine.com/workshops/toronto-october-25-27)

If you read about my experience below, I hope you’ll be inclined to join the workshop. If so, use code venusventure to get 25% off your workshop registration.

Here is how it went down for me last year –

I joined a group, which later, through our brainstorming, we called Propelr.co. We were joined somewhat randomly as team members; James Wallace, Alexa Meyer, Anand Puran, Richard Cerozo and myself. I was so lucky to be in this group of hard-working, smart individuals. Our team was formed around Richard Cerozo, who wanted to change the world. It’s pretty amazing that 5 strangers were teamed up, and we worked so hard all day and all night.

Challenges

Our biggest challenge was that our concept was so big, just trying to be on the same page was difficult. We were told to ‘get out of the building’ several times. At one point, one of the mentors, Obie Fernandez, CTO of Lean Startup Machine came into our room, threw all our stickies off our validation board and set us straight so we can get out of the building. For those planning on attending this workshop, I would highly suggest figuring out what the one idea is and just sticking to that as opposed to trying to be too much.

Some of the key learnings were…

1. TTYFC (Talk to your F-ing Customers): To quote Ramli John, one of the speakers at LSMTO, ‘we don’t know sh*t’ This turned out to be true when we hit the streets and talked to random people on the street to validate our assumptions. Sometimes our assumptions would be dead on, or completely wrong and invalidated. We really don’t know what’s true until we hit the streets and hear from real people. Instead of building and creating something you think people want, go talk to the customers and they will tell you what their pain points are and what they really want.

2. Listen: None of the above will be useful if you don’t listen. When you ask open-ended questions, sometimes people will talk and that’s when you get some real insight. Anyone can say yes or no to a closed question, but once you get their attention and let them talk, it’s surprising how much information people are willing to share.

3. Get out of the building: After we picked an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) we went out and talked to people to see if they would actually use the product. It’s one thing to ask people ‘would you like something like this’ and another to see if people would actually use it or pay for it. People, and Canadians in general are nice, so they might just say yea, sure, I’d use it when you ask them, but once they are put in the position of a customer, would they be still excited to use the service? It’s a really good test to see what you’re building is a worthwhile cause.

Being thrown into a workshop like this really, really humbles you. It makes you see the true colours of ‘the one’ you thought was so perfect. You learn that being attached to an idea that has not been validated is as silly as a single girl growing her hair out in anticipation of her future wedding.

I learned that we make a lot of assumptions based on our own experiences. Without ‘getting out of the building’ and talking to people, you really don’t know anything. This process of validation can be very emotionally stressful and frustrating, but it’s eye-opening, and again, humbling.

Proplr.co didn’t win the competition but we did get an honourable mention for trying to change the world. All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience for all involved.

It’s been a year since this experience, and I’m excited to be going back to this year’s LSMTO. Looking forward to meeting new people, hearing from new speakers and working my ass off!

– Rosa Park, Content partner, Venus Ventures

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