Followup Lean Start-up Machine Prague

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend, as a mentor, to the first Lean Start-up Machine in Prague. This is not a pat on the back post for the local organizers nor for the LSM crew (although I am still surprised how they were able to pull off such a great event in less then 2 months – good job) nor an advertising post for the LSM in general. This post aims at presenting my humble take on the workshop plus some insights that I’ve gained over the course of the 3 days spend in the beautiful city of Prague.

 As I am sure that some of you are familiar by now with the concept of the Lean Start-up Machine, I’ll keep it short: a bunch of enthusiastic entrepreneurs working on validating some start-up ideas from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.  The mentors’ job, on the other hand, is to challenge the teams’ business assumptions, provide on demand guidance/help and take them out of their comfort zone (physically – by getting them out of the building and mentally – by asking sticky questions).
Since, in my opinion, learning goes both ways, this are some conclusions that I’ve reached after observing and working with the teams in Prague:
#1 no matter how good you think your business idea is, you need to GET OUT OF THE BUILDING and validate the most risky assumption first before even thinking about implementation;
#2 validate problem first solution second;
#3 you need to have a winner mentality, be prepared to face the real facts and embrace change. Dragging you head through the sand won’t solve the problem nor will it make your potential customer change his mind about the solution you envisioned. Pick it up and try again. Pivot!!!
#4 don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve pivoted when you’ve only done customer discovery. I had teams approaching me saying they’ve pivoted ’cause they found out that the potential users that they’ve talked to would like to have a fast deploying solution and they would pay a premium for that – this in not pivoting this is customer discovery. In a nut-shell pivoting means: changing either the customer hypothesis or the problem hypothesis, or in a more abstract way: change the strategy without changing the vision. Here is a classification of pivots.
#5 apply the concierge method only when you are on to something.  Don’t waist time in the initial stages of the validation process with only one potential users ’cause you might end up solving the problem that only 1 in 6 Bil. has. If you aim at disrupting a sector, long cycles (discovery, development, implementation or sales) will not help you – speed maters!
#6 Czech beer is great (and this one comes form a guy that lives in Germany)
I know that for some of us who are really familiar with the concepts of the Lean Start-up and Customer Development the above conclusions might seam as common sense, but never the less, seeing them work in real life is a thousand time more interesting than reading about them in a book or a blog. This is why I encourage you to join, at least once, the Lean Start-up Machine and have an amazing experience.
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