We’re kicking off a blog series focusing on creating a new Product. We are going to create a mobile application, end to end, with the release being available on Android and iOS. We’ll use Lean Startup approaches to Product Development and report our progress at each juncture.
In the Blog we will create an application that is aimed at the consumer market. This gives a the wider available user base and proves anyone can create a Product. The process is applicable inside organisations and industrial domains (with some tweaks we’ll try to mention along the way) too. Therefore the series should add value to anyone in the business of creating value for customers through digital Products.
This is Part 1 in the series, to see all the parts check out the full blog category.
At Astar we gravitate towards the Lean Startup movement as popularised by Eric Reiss. Some of the most successful Products in the last decade leverage Lean Startup ideas. These include: Lean, Design Thinking and Agile forming a system of iterative delivery. We will focus on experimenting with the goal of finding the most valuable Product for customers. The details on these ideas are already part of our blogs if you need to sharpen up on them.
What is a Startup?
The creation of a Digital Product is, by definition, a Startup endeavour. Reiss takes this a step further to define entrepreneurs as anyone involved in a Startup. This includes several people not typically thought of as traditionally entrepreneurial.
Vision and strategy
A Startups Vision is what the institution thinks the future will look like and how they fit into it. This is the single most important thing a Startup can define as it sets the entire ethos of the institute; a new Vision means it’s a new Startup!
A Startups strategy is the roadmap along which it moves to achieve its Vision. The Strategy can, and should, change as the Startup learns new things through experimentation.
Central to the Lean Startup methodology is that every business and Product idea is based on a set of assumptions. These assumptions come in two flavours:
- Value Hypothesis – we assume our potential customers will find value in our Product
- Growth Hypothesis – we assume our Product will grow and gain more customers through an Engines of Growth
The main focus in the methodology is to prove (or disprove) any assumptions made about the value and growth. For a Startup to succeed learning must be done as quickly as possible. There are generally at least some assumptions inside a Product that are so critical they are called ‘Leaps of Faith’. These Leaps must prove true for the Product to succeed.
Build – Measure – Learn
To iteratively prove assumptions the Lean Startup process uses a Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. A Startups main focus should be on proving or disproving as many assumptions as possible!
We’ve covered the notion of an MVP before but in short the Lean Startup approach defines an MVP as anything that create Validated Learning. Experiments and tests can include (but are not limited to ) – marketing smoke tests, prototype software, questionnaires, videos and manual versions of services of automated features. The key here is that with every MVP we aim to validate a hypothesis as true or false using quantifiable metrics that give us insight.
Pivot or Persevere?
At each cycle of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle a Startup should be learning whether a hypothesis is true or false. If a hypothesis is proved true then the Startup perseveres along it’s current strategy and tests the next assumption. If the hypothesis is proved false the Startup Pivots and changes direction. These Pivots are not failures; they are an essential element to learning what is valuable to the Startups customers.
For this blog series we’ve decided to focus on creating a tool to help people achieve their personal goals. It’s an area that we feel people struggle with daily and that there are various existing examples in which mobile apps help people stick to their targets already.
We’re very proud to be a Scottish company so we tend to use traditional Gaelic names for things when we can which is why we’ve named the app ‘Amas’ (Gaelic for Goal).
Through the use of the Lean Startup methodology and the various aspects it covers (Design Thinking, Lean, UX design, Agile, etc) we will explore and report the steps we take to finding the right Product in this space. It’s an exciting feeling starting on a new project but there are hard times ahead and a lot of thinking (and blog material) to come!