A little background is in order.
“Lean Start-up” is a phrase, I believe, coined by Eric Ries of Lessons Learned. This is a great blog and well worth you spending time with it. In a nutshell, a Lean Start-up is one that combines fast-release, iterative development methodologies (e.g., Agile) with Steve Blank’s “Customer Development” concepts. The objective is to efficiently create customer-driven products quickly and with a low burn rate.
Though I believe these principles are likely to fare well for software and even hardware products, it appears that most of those implementing the Lean Start-up are Internet-based products. Without getting too deep into the specific practices, Internet products offer several advantages:
- the target market is assumed to be online, so product, marketing, and customer dev activities are easily conducted online;
- abundance of opensource software and tools;
- web deployment of product updates is fast;
- actionable metrics are easily tracked.
So that’s what we’re trying to do with the start up I’ve been discussing. Parts I and II of the discussion are here and here, respectively. Last time, we were still defining stuff. Now, we’re getting “out of the office.”
We’ve taken a stab at defining our minimum viable product (MVP). What’s the MVP? Here’s my working definition, though it may differ from others: The MVP is the minimum level of product functionality needed to reach the next objective on the path of achieving your vision. Next week we will soon have HTML mock-ups of the pages.
The CEO is meeting with half a dozen potential customers, interviewing them in order to validate (as best as possible pre-product) our market assumptions. He will continue these interviews for the next several weeks.
This week, we are also launching our first user survey. I differentiate users and customers, since the former will not (initially, at least) pay, while the latter will (hopefully). How did we find target users? Through our personal networks. I consider this first round of questioning to be for “friends of the business,” yet who still represent the target market. Again, the objective is to test assumptions and hopefully learn more about how close we are with the MVP.