Building Startups and Minimum Viable Products (NDC2013)


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Delivered at NDC2013, 14th June 2013

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  • I have fun with startups
  • everything you’ve heard this week and applying it to real businesses with the aim of making *money*
  • Stages of a startupBuild, measure, leanDon’t be scared to failDon’t be scared to kill it if it’s not workingBe public, be visible, talk to everyoneDon’t fail too early!
  • Meerkatalyst example Thought I understood customer problem. Problem I had personally while at 7digital, knew others had it, ran with it as a side project before joining Springboard startup accelerator
  • PoolTapsInternal / External
  • Ideas by themselves are worthless100% on executing the visionPrevious company tried to split attention across 4 company streams. It doesn’t work.Without a core desire, you’ve already lost the game
  • 3 people max.Designer/UI, Backend, CustDev/Biz DevUnicorns!!
  • Building Startups and Minimum Viable Products (NDC2013)

    1. 1. in Residence at Cornershop / #1seedBuilding Startups and Minimum ViableProducts
    2. 2. in Residence at Cornershop / #1seedYou talk about it, we ship it.#craftsmanship
    3. 3. in Residence at Cornershop / #1seedLet’s make some money#craftsmanshipisdead
    4. 4. Who am I?• Hacker in Residence at Cornershop / #1seed– Meerkatalyst / MaydayHQ (Co-founder)– Swapit– 7digital– Red Gate Software• Multiple open source and side projects• @Ben_Hall or
    5. 5. AgendaIdea Build Release
    6. 6. How I see the worldWith a bit of a rant, and variouslessons learned along the way
    7. 7. Startup Mindset
    8. 8. Validate / Invalidate a concept asfast as possible
    9. 9. Lean Startup?• Toyota production system• Toyota Way• W. Edwards Deming• Eric Reis made it mainstream
    10. 10. BuildMeasureLearn
    11. 11. Not about being cheap
    12. 12. It’s good to fail, as long as youfail fast
    13. 13. But not so fast that it’simpossible to succeed
    14. 14. The Idea
    15. 15. What happens if you don’t havean idea?Find a space, theme, problem thatyou personally find interesting
    16. 16. Redstar Ventures, Science Inc,Rocket Internet
    17. 17. CornershopTapsPoolInternal / External
    18. 18. BELIEVE IN THE VISIONWithout a core desire, you’ve already lost the game
    19. 19. People dont buy what you do;they buy why you do it.
    20. 20. Ideas to avoid / be aware of?• Market places / two sided markets– They do lead to digital transaction businesses ==most likely to hit $1b– Winning once is hard. Here you need to win twice.• Viral– Generally all about luck• Photo Sharing etc– Yawn!!! Be original.
    21. 21. Business Assumption ExerciseBusiness Assumptions ExerciseI believe that my customers have a need to________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.This need can be solved with________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.My initial customers will be_____________________________________________________________________The #1 value a client wants to get out of my service is:_____________________________________________________________________The client can also get these additional benefits:________________________________________________________ and______________________________________________________I will acquire the majority of my users/customers through______________________________________________ and________________________________________________Business Assumptions ExerciseI believe that my customers have a need to discover thebest online services to solve their problems.This need can be solved with recommending them newservices based on their existing tools and expressedproblems.My initial customers will be early adopters working in theLondon tech scene people who use 5-10 apps on a dailybasis and have signed up to over 100.The #1 value a client wants to get out of my service is:having a personalised recommendation service for apps.The client can also get these additional benefits: visualiseall the apps their currently subscribed too and curatedpages by thoughtleaders and social connections.I will acquire the majority of my users/customers throughexternal integrations with apps and word of month /SEO
    22. 22. Leave the buildingUnderstand potential customeracquisition approaches early
    23. 23. Speak to everyone!• Influencers• Users of competitor products• Potential new users• People in different verticals with similar businessmodels• Understand industry, customer segments• Test different value props, identify whichconnects best
    24. 24. Always discuss previous experiences.People are rubbish at predicting thefuture
    25. 25. Easy way to prove it’s a goodidea?Get them to pay for it.
    27. 27. Naming & BrandingNaming is the hardest problemCan kill days and suck motivation
    28. 28. Create a brand with any name(Google)
    29. 29. Let the name create brand(AirBnB, YouPorn, PornTube)Pivots are harder
    31. 31. MissingUnicorns.comTechnical recruitment tool
    32. 32. CORNERSHOPInvesting in the name and the brand
    33. 33. Tag lines should be short andsweet
    34. 34. DON’T SAY YOU’REDISTRIBUTING OR INNOVATINGLAME!!! Only others can say that
    35. 35. CustDev can only get you so farShould have concept / vision clear inyour own head
    36. 36. The Build
    37. 37. What is a MVP?• Enhance Learning• Enable you to ask new questions beyond whatyou’ve asked before
    38. 38. Don’t turn into a developer!• This isn’t an exercise in learning newtechnologies.• It’s an exercise in building businesses• Don’t confuse the two.
    39. 39. Lesson learned fromMeerkatalystBuilt an over complex system when a shellscript would have done
    40. 40. Lesson learned from MaydayStopped the MVP, started scaling (technicalbackend), didn’t have product/market fit.Massive Fail
    41. 41. Avoid writing code if you can• Email first startups are cool!!• Sunrise (Just raised $2.2m, started as morningemail of your day’s schedule each day)• Mattermark
    42. 42. Speed of delivery is key• Beg, steal, borrow – just get it done!• Ability to lean• Should be based around your vision• BOA took too long… aim wasn’t to learn,missed a number of opportunities
    43. 43. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WRITEBORING STUFFDon’t reinvent the wheel
    44. 44. UI / Design• Bootstrap• Flat UI• ThemeForest + Wordpress• KISS!! Do you really need EmberJS, Backboneetc etc etc?
    45. 45. Middleware• NodeJS• GitHub• Community• NPM / Bower
    46. 46. Backend• NoSQL– Mainly because of migrations• ElasticSearch– *AMAZING*
    47. 47. Hosting• Heroku• Rackspace Cloud– Preference of choice. Great startup team.– Gave me lots of free beer at SXSW• Amazon Web Services
    48. 48. Paul Stack rocked my world – Vagrant
    49. 49. APIs• Easily accessible data– FourSquare• Screen Scrape Data– Dirty, but *powerful*– Node + Redis === *fast*
    50. 50. Personal collection of reusablecodeCopy and paste FTW!!!
    51. 51. Cult of the Software Craftsman• Code Quality is not a feature!• Do you really need 80% test coverage? Whatvalue is that actually adding?• Do you really need that abstraction? That IoC?That level of separation? That ability to scale?• Is that really going to change your world?
    52. 52. BULLSH*T
    55. 55. STOPPED DOING TDD A LONG TIMEAGOWrite tests / code / shell scripts to speed up feedback loop – not aboutlong-term.
    58. 58. Facebook Rewrite ExampleMove fast and break things
    59. 59. Ideal Team SizeTeam SizeIdeally Three People
    60. 60. Identifying what’s required?• MVP needs to be a product you can learn frombut generally everything can be dropped.– If it doesn’t answer a question, does it need to bethere? If there is no question, then no.– Need X feature to be Y is generally incorrect.Other ways to solve the problem• Releasing and iterating at least every day
    61. 61. Fake it until you make it
    62. 62. Lesson learned fromRate it Slate itPrototyped FunctionalityTook 2-3 hours to go from a concept tolearning valuable insights
    63. 63. Release something that movesthe needle every dayZynga’s approach
    64. 64. But that won’t work in XYZenvironmentReally?!
    65. 65. TheRelease
    66. 66. Job done! If you build it they will comeMust be true, Hollywood said so
    67. 67. Find the people who believe what youbelieve• Early Adaptors• Early Evangelists• Will market the product for you.
    68. 68. Key factors• Metrics• Drive Traffic• Listen to your customers
    69. 69. Metrics• Collect everything• Visualise key data• Have key metrics that you want to track
    70. 70. Backend system• Librato metrics• Rackspace / AWS
    71. 71. Librato
    72. 72. User Metrics• Google Analytics• MixPanel• KissMetrics• Your own database is most valuable source.Use it!
    73. 73. AARRR• Pirate Metrics. The only ones that matter.• Application Level• Feature Level (less for investors, more forproduct managers)
    74. 74.
    75. 75. Metrics became the tests• Ensure the system isworking as expected• Alerts when the systemstopped working outsideof normal bounds
    76. 76. Drive Traffic• PR (Hacker News, Techcrunch, The Next Web)• Newsletters (Own and others)• SEO – Inbound links• Blog (Own and others)• Tweet (MailChirp)• Email (MailChimp)• Influencers in the sector– Friends of Red Gate– Microsoft MVP programme
    77. 77. Paid Advertisement• 4 Hour Body tricks (Google Ad Words for title,in store hack for cover)
    78. 78. Speak to people using the product• Red Gate UX team• Watch, Listen, Learn• Introduce explicit touch points in theapplication for reaching out– Rate it Slate it inbox beta list• Do people want the feature?• Can we build a email list of people who are activelyengaging with the product
    79. 79. Quickly qualify a lead & call• Rapportive• Intercom• Drop off time is around 90% a day after theyused your product• Call them ASAP
    80. 80. A/B Tests?• Waste of time at the early stage.• Complex to configure, not enough traffic tomake them statistically significant.– Mayday A/B tests• Took ages to get data, could have just asked people
    81. 81. Be prepared to kill it!• Referly• Meerkatalyst• Mayday• Pivot.
    82. 82. Be public about failing
    83. 83. Finally…
    84. 84. Summary• Stop playing with cool tech & start learning• Have a vision & execute it• Listen to customer over everyone else• Watch your metrics• Just get started!
    85. 85. To all the hackers, hustlers andhipsters – Good Luck!Ship stuff, change the world and havefun!Apparently it’s worth all the pain, stressand sleep nights
    86. 86. Thank you, please come