How we build and validated a startup concept in 10 weeks


When not busy building SCALEit, I study my master in Digital Innovation & Management at the Danish IT University - this last semester I took three classes, one of them being Digital Entrepreneurship.

Usually (traditionally), entrepreneurship classes has been about business plans at an MBA styled approach. I hate that. To me, there is nothing worse than writing a uni project, which will not actually be used for anything - it’s a bad use of everyones time! Instead of ‘the-plan-approach’, my group with Kamma Louise Rodian and Thor Underbjerg decided that we wanted to go Lean, build a product, validate some of our hypothesis - and built something of value. As Steve Blank would say it: “get out of the building (classroom), and start talking to customers!” - and so we did.

By following the free online udacity class the Lean LaunchPad, using Alexander Osterwalders framework the Business Model Canvas and implementing Ben Mappens product LeanLaunchLab.com for keeping track of our validation process, we managed to build a site in a very short time. The original idea was born after reading The Sunday Startup on Quora - a fascinating story about how Aravind Chandrasekaran build a startup in one day.

What: a simple children clothes search engine.
Why: It’s hard to find the right products online - there is to much content.
Where: Test it in Denmark. Small market. 5m inhabitants.
$$$: Affiliate transactions
How: Build danbits.com
When: now!

To explain the process (which is the important part), this video will explain how we did it in 10 weeks. The product may or may not be good, but the important part is the learnings, testing and validation.

Some highlights of testing and validating this:

Survey 1: 9 people were in person interviewed in Copenhagen
Survey 2: 125 people e-surveyed
Survey 3: 10 personal webshop interviews 

After an alpha launch, and just before our exam, we AB tested the site in two tests with about 100 users in each. By doing this, we improved search with more than 1400% and time spend on the site with 76%! At the exam we pitched this story:

What we learned:

 - Validated learning is the best method to build and test a startup
 - Following lean principles is a process - customer development is key
 - Product Market Fit takes time. Nail it to scale it!
 - A niche vertical is easier to target
 - Google Docs are awesome to build small tests in!!
 - The Internet is a great place (but we already knew that…..)

The important resources:

Free Lean LaunchPad Udacity class
The Startup Owners manual
Lean LaunchLab
The Sunday Startup
Google Custom Search
Google Forms

Final note:

A personal hero of mine and the godfather of customer development, Eric Ries’ (Lean Startup) personal mentor, Steve Blank, gave our process his endorsement. Coming from him, this means everything!

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