Bootstrapping your startup & building it lean: stop wasting time
bootstrapping your startup & building it lean:stop wasting time as endured by Joel Gascoigne
How I ended up here• Developer for 10 years• Graduate of Computing Systems• Running 2 startups, some success• Bootstrapped, no outside investment• Actively involved with other startups• Organiser of StartupMill events
Coming up• Startups: methodologies & techniques• Applying what we’ve learned• Roundup and how to start
Startups• Some key people• Learnings• Speciﬁc techniques
People who deﬁned my thinking• Eric Ries• Steve Blank• Sean Ellis• Dave McClure• Look these guys up!
Eric Ries The Lean Startup• Use of platforms enabled by open source and free software• Application of agile development methodologies• Customer-centric rapid iteration
Minimum Viable Product • Version of a new product which allows you to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort • Avoid building products nobody wants • Probably much more minimum than you think
Eric Ries The Lean Startup• The “pivot”• Looking back at the beginnings of successful companies shows they often started as a different idea• Many examples: PayPal, Flickr, ...
Steve Blank Customer Development• http://bit.ly/FourSteps• http://custdev.com
Sean Ellis Product/Market Fit• Comparing results across over 100 startups, those that struggle have not reached “Product/Market Fit”• Sean’s metric: ask existing users how they would feel if they could no longer use the product. 40% very disappointed = P/M Fit• Engage existing and target users to learn how to make your product a “must have”
Dave McClure Pirate Metrics• More from Dave McClure:• http://500hats.typepad.com/
Learning• Embrace change, avoid assumptions• “Pivot” & iterate through feedback loop (Eric Ries)• “Get out of the building” (Steve Blank)• Strive for Product/Market Fit ﬁrst (Sean Ellis)• Use metrics, not opinions (Dave McClure)
Split tests• Test a change against an existing feature• For example, a new landing page versus the old one• Show 50% of people the old one and 50% of people the new one, and test the metrics to decide which is better
Continuous deployment• The time taken for code to be committed to the repository to it being live on the production server is less than 20 minutes• Code is passed through tests in order to determine whether it should go live
How I see lean, and ways to bootstrap• Stop wasting time• Activities aren’t always wrong, just often timed wrong• Just do it, there are too many reasons not to start
Lean & bootstrapping: my experiences• 2 things which worked for me• 2 things I will now always question• 3 examples of keeping things lean
Worked for me: Open source• Use a framework, careful with a CMS• Use a familiar language • Save learning a new one for a side project which isn’t a business• Use other people’s code
Worked for me: 3rd party services• It makes no sense to do non-core activities • Email - sendgrid, mailchimp, ... • Deployment - beanstalk, github, ... • Metrics - mixpanel, KISSmetrics, ... • Feedback - uservoice, GetSatisfaction, ... • Hosting - AWS, Rackspace, Heroku, ...
I will always question: delaying a launch• I didn’t think I was ready to launch OnePage or Buffer when I did • OnePage - 4 months • Buffer - 7 weeks• “be notiﬁed when we’re ready” works well• Users are very forgiving• Question every feature
I’ll always question: “closed beta”• “closed beta” for far too long with OnePage• No closed beta for Buffer• Use it only when it makes sense • You have people desperate to see what you built next • You have a very clever social hook
Keeping things lean: Launching incrementally• Start small, measure throughout• Example: Buffer • Started with “coming soon” page • Added full landing page, no other pages • Then added pricing page, still no app • Finally added the app
Keeping things lean: No fancy signup process• Buffer has no signup process yet• Launching it without was scary• Pleasantly surprised with outcome• Better to launch, measure conversions and then build a better signup process
Keeping things lean: Integrating PayPal• PayPal has a feature to allow you to automatically switch a user’s account level in your app when they make a payment• Maybe considered necessary, I launched without implementing it• Better to spend the time getting the ﬁrst customer
Act tomorrow: Starting from scratch• Keep your MVP minimal• Don’t get carried away with code• Measure before you build more• Focus on qualitative feedback
Act tomorrow: Already launched?• Add in actionable metrics (Dave McClure)• Lots of trafﬁc? Start split testing • Check out Optimizely.com
Avoid assumptionsQuestion everything Test everything Thanks! Get in touch: myonepage.com/joel
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