Lessons from our Lean Startup Experiment

So - last week, two friends and I conducted this four day long lean startup experiment. Which lessons did I take away? The first and foremost lesson is: It's great fun, to work focused and hands on in such a small team on a nice product!

Further lessons were:

  • You should formulate your hypotheses clear and write them down on a piece of paper. Do really ask yourself which assertions you want to verify - and if the experiment you are conducting will indeed give you evidence for that.
  • Even if you did this, you will be inclined to neglect negative evidence - especially if you are in love with your own product. Your head will always tell you that everything was wrong (data, experiment, people) - but not your idea. This is a real challenge! And it makes the first point even more important.
  • An MVP is not necessarily very small. There are some hypotheses, you will have to invest a good amount of work into, to proof or disprove them.
  • You should have enough time and reserves to do some pivots. Otherwise your are relatively certain to fail with your first or second wrong hypothesis.
I asked myself after the experiment if we did pivot at all. Since we did not write up our hypothesis formally (we only talked about them), I did not know immediately. But thinking about it, I found that we pivoted quite some times in that four days. On the first day we switched from the idea of building a mobile app to building a website first. There were further pivots - and I think all of them helped us to get a much better understanding of what we should build.

Conclusion: Taking a lean startup approach really forces you to get in touch with real people - potential users. Those people are able to give you extremely valuable feedback in very early stages of product development. It's a great approach for product development - but there is still much more to be learned and done to build great products!