This is a guest post by Eddie Gannon. He is young entrepreneur with Irish roots, currently based in Amsterdam. Eddie is passionate about tech and innovation. He is currently working as an IT consultant, and in his spare time he likes to explore how technology is changing business.
Here’s a quick rundown of the things we spoke about at the last Startupmaze event on April 26th, including the topics discussed, the projects we’re working on, the challenges we set for each other and the techniques we shared.
The theme of the meetup was to test the problem you intend to solve for your users. This follows on from the previous event about focussing in on the problem aspect of your idea instead of jumping straight to solution design. The idea for the group is that we can follow each other’s progress through the full startup cycle from ideation to testing to release.
The projects we’re working on:
Andi – Expanding the product offering of the online security company he works for into offline security products.
Mario – Creating an app that allows voters in his home country of Spain to explore which political parties most closely match their views.
Prabath – A startup that caters to the full range of administration needs of SaaS based companies.
Peter – Creating event management software that allows non-professionals to organise all aspects of an event.
Monica – A portable coffee mug that allows the coffee lovers a hassle-free way to reduce the waste they produce.
Eddie – An app that allows consumers to have more trust in the sustainability of their food.
We first discussed the pitfalls of solution-oriented thinking. If you get carried away too early with what you think is a great idea you can lose touch with the need to validate and explore the importance of the actual problem your idea is supposed to solve. This is the opposite of how to run “lean”. Part of the reason for this lies in our cognition; we are biased in favour of choices we have made in the past. A striking example of this solution oriented thinking is that of William Temple Hornaday. So Andi challenged us again to phrase our ideas using the template “I’m solving <<this problem>> for <<this group of users>> “.
We then spoke about what the core problem addressed by each of our ideas was, and how we could test if we are looking at reals need.
Andi’s plans to advance this further by driving online traffic to a landing page and testing the response and subscription rate.
Mario is currently conducting customer interviews to dig into the preferences of his target market.
Prabath’s idea is more developed as it is a related product to other successful solutions offered by his startup and he knows this space well, so he is currently testing the needs of his consumer base in this regard.
Peter has had similar success; he is further along the release cycle and actually has a beta version up and running already for his event management software.
Monica is in discussion with designers for her idea of a coffee cup that can be reused and then collapsed into a handier size for people on the go.
I am testing the interest from my target market with customer interviews and email subscription uptake to see if people are interested in an app that would give them more transparency about the provenance and production of the meat they buy.
There were some useful tools mentioned that can help founders at this stage of product innovation. Landing page builders like kickofflabs.com and instapage.com. In terms of driving traffic to those pages, Facebook ads were mentioned as a hassle-free and effective channel. Resources to help guide your thinking around customer development include the entrepreneur’s guide to customer development, the Lean Stack, and of course Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. We’ve added some resources to our group dropbox and there’ll be more added in future.
The next event will be soon so join us on meetup.com. We’re thinking about how to improve the format and structure so if you have any ideas let us know!