Meg Dedyne

The science in startup

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Creative Commons.

In reading about the Lean Startup Methodology, the first sentence struck me as a little odd. It discusses providing a scientific approach to creating and managing startups. I never really thought of creating a startup as scientific, but here I am reading about a scientific approach to all things startup related – and it actually makes sense!

The article first talks about how many startups (or rather the people creating the startups) focus on a product they think people want. Without doing any research into their target audience or developing an MVP (minimum viable product), they full-heartedly jump into their “startup” with only a product in mind. After sometimes years of creating something they think people want and consumers show their disinterest, the startup will fail. This is where the science comes in.

I really like this Lean Startup model for two reasons: because it is an easy model to go by (not rocket science) and because it makes sense! Although my reasons seem simple enough, this model is one that anyone can use when creating their startup.

Another part of this model that I like are the “Five Whys.” As entrepreneurs, we constantly need to be asking ourselves questions, especially why. What does our target audience want? Why do they want this? Why are their motivations different from other sub groups of people? These are the questions good journalists, turned successful entrepreneurs should ask.

One thing I would challenge about this article is the quote that says using the Lean Startup approach will allow a company to create order, not chaos. In a sense, I do think this is accurate. However, I think there is always chaos that no company can predict. At my agency, one of our mottos is “make order out of chaos,” and that is what I think this approach can also be used for – how to be prepared when chaos hits.

Reading contributing material, YCombinator and Forbes both discuss similar attributes to a successful startup: you can’t start with a product. The reiteration of this phrase has been making me think a lot about those casual conversations with your friends when they say, “Wouldn’t this product be great.” Or “Someone should make this product.” Not knowing any better, I always responded with, “Yes, someone should definitely make that app, or product or whatever.” However, from now on, if I was really serious about creating another startup, I would slow down, take a step back and do my research.

IDEO.org also discusses through a case study and short video, that processes to starting a company are way more involved than anyone could imagine without the background knowledge. What I learned from the case study: the process can stem from simple and creative ideas, but we must be thinking about the building blocks and we must be constantly talking to people.

TedX and Backchannel describe two different case studies. One is dealing with the problem in targeting who we actually want to target and one is dealing with how Airbnb creates a ground of trust. Both are very different, but both relay a similar message. As entrepreneurs, we must always be on our toes, always be waiting for the other shoe to drop and we must always have a robust tactical plan in place for any sort of outcome.

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