Evolving and Growing with Lean Startup by Valerie Gofman
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Evolving and Growing with Lean Startup by Valerie Gofman


The Lean Startup Conference 2013

More in: Business , Technology
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  • Company is: Established in the market, mature sales team, repeat clients, solid partnerships You want to Break out with a brand new product, while maintaining existing business
  • External decision: customer requestsInternal decision: company decides to test hypothesis based on research
  • Highest cost center, strategic headcount allocation, product-minded, developing for the future
  • Can’t you hire more people? Build a new team for the new product?OK, what if you get more funding? We can budget for it, come on!
  • Having new people on the team at once is more disruptive and keeps existing members constantly thinking about future integration of new product
  • Split into two uneven teams:One: maintain existing businessOne: innovate, build/break/ship quicklyEventually, measured positive business success, increased priority of innovationTwo teams incorporated into one team, after many iterations of the organization. It wasn’t a silver bullet approach, but we continued to reevaluate
  • Knowledge transfer/ learning curveExperimenting with different structure organizationCommunication, communication, communication! Obviously, one product team with two business focuses keeping priorities and comunication straight between two engineering organizations is immensely challenging.
  • Initial small team sets foundation of new productResource allocation parallels business priority at any given timeContinuing customer development cycle with incorporated teams
  • Keep in mind 80/20 resource : revenueUtilize existing team members to your benefit!Keep iterating on communicationRespect the team, product development will flow
  • Interact with customers, bring in revenue, represent company brand and show off products
  • Can’t the team just forward-sell? What’s the big deal, why wouldn’t you just embellish the product story?
  • Important players in customer developmentCommon interest: driving more $$$Balance brand message with realityCompetitors
  • Sharethrough for Publishers– tool allowing our partners to leverage our technologyDiscovered opportunity for existing + to acquire new publishers (sales/exec driven)As prod/eng, focus was on rapid BML cycles of our new auction platformBig question: what is minimal set of features, lightest way to build them while continuing to build new platform?
  • Started with large list of requirements from sales & publishersFrom large list of req’s, what were minimum “can’t live without” set of featuresOn dev side: what is most lightweight, least disruptive way to build the tool?
  • Answer important questions:HOW do we compare? - Competitive feature set matrix (ongoing)WHY are we falling short? – Customer development learnings (weekly)ARE we going in the right direction? – Re-evaluate strategically per market/revenue goals (3-6 month)
  • Continuing to re-evaluate position of new product in rapidly evolving marketKeeping eng/devfocus in check alongside novel customer requests Customer development. It’s hard!
  • Narrow down scope of MVP, make sure that it makes sense with current and foreseeable iteration of devSet aside time to re-evaluate and confirm directionCustomer development involves a partnership with sales/biz dev
  • Run the innerworkings of the business, feedback source about new product, internal customers
  • Can’t you just increase headcount to execute the new product ops?How do you keep cognitive load low with new process/training?
  • May have first usage of new product (esp. if software)Internal customer = feedback + discern (who is design target?)Have customer’s needs in mind
  • Wizard-of-Oz manual workaroundsBefore training entire team, enlist early product adopter/super user (close to product team)Continue to suss out feedback to iterate on features
  • Can and should go through different iterationsImportant to think about the overall UXProcess on the (business side)New, low effort features aka Low Hanging Fruit(development side)Examples/details: Keeping branding consistent, cohesive experience and story for the customerGood QA (everyone in the company is part of the QA process)
  • No process is set in stoneOvercommunicateKeep each stakeholder engineering / sales&marketing / operations in the loop and in mindCompany (not just product/feature set) vision/goals front and center


  • 1. Evolution of a Tech Product Organization Thinking Lean While Innovating in an Existing Business Valerie Gofman valgofman@gmail.com
  • 2. Challenge: Your company is: Established in the market! You want to: Build new product
  • 3. When? What? Why? Doesn’t matter…process matters!
  • 4. Let’s think about…engineering/development Why? Well, they build the product (duh!)
  • 5. engineering/development Why not? New hires Brand new team
  • 6. engineering/development Maintaining resources means… • Tacit knowledge • Least disruptive
  • 7. engineering/development Example: Sharethrough’s new real-time bidding auction platform
  • 8. engineering/development What we did: • Two teams • Existing • “Innovate” • Increased priority of innovation • 2 groups  1 team
  • 9. engineering/development What were challenges: • Experimenting • Knowledge Transfer • Communication
  • 10. engineering/development Why/what was effective: • Small team = foundation • Business priority • Rapid cycles
  • 11. engineering/development • 80/20 rule Takeaways! • Iterate on communication • Respect
  • 12. engineering/development You don’t want it to be like
  • 13. Let’s think about…sales/biz dev/marketing Why? Revenue & customers
  • 14. sales/biz dev/marketing Why not…? Forward-sell? Embellish? Say yes?
  • 15. sales/biz dev/marketing Relationships & Positioning • Customer dev • Brand story • Competitors
  • 16. sales/biz dev/marketing Example • Opportunity (sales/exec) • But…disrupting new dev Sharethrough for Publishers! • Minimal, lightweight
  • 17. sales/biz dev/marketing • Lay out all req’s What we did: • Big picture • Basics
  • 18. sales/biz dev/marketing • Important questions: • HOW do we compare? • WHY are we falling short? • ARE we going in the right direction?
  • 19. sales/biz dev/marketing • Market changing Challenges • Focus = reality ? • Customer support
  • 20. sales/biz dev/marketing • Narrow MVP scope Takeaways! • Re-evaluate and re-confirm direction • Partnership with sales/biz dev
  • 21. Let’s think about…operations Why? They run the biz!
  • 22. operations Why not… Increase headcount? New process/training?
  • 23. operations • First usage Get Shit Done • Internal customer • Actual customer contact
  • 24. operations You don’t want them to be like
  • 25. operations • Wizard-of-Oz manual workarounds What works: • Early product adopter • Feedback
  • 26. Is that it?
  • 27. I don’t think so. “MVV” - Minimum Viable Vision same process as MVP, but thinking about the overall company story and vision
  • 28. mvv What does it really mean? • Different iterations • Important to think about the overall UX • Business Side • Dev Side • How? • Branding, experience, story consistent • Everyone is part of QA
  • 29. MVV = product keeping company in mind • No process is set in stone • Overcommunicate • Stakeholders in the loop and in mind • Company vision
  • 30. Thanks! Valerie Gofman valgofman@gmail.com