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Spotify Running: Lessons learned from building a ‘Lean Startup’ inside a big tech company


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This is the story of how a small, cross-functional team (with only 1 developer!) worked closely with our customers on a weekly basis to discover the right thing to build, before we built anything and eventually shipped an innovative new feature that was praised by customers and the press alike. If you’ve read the Lean Startup, have been inspired by their stories and wonder “wow that’s really inspiring, now how the heck do I actually DO this?!”, then this presentation is for you. (Here’s a hint: It ain’t easy, but is doable!)

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Spotify Running: Lessons learned from building a ‘Lean Startup’ inside a big tech company

  1. 1. Spotify Running Lessons learned from building a 'Lean Startup' inside a big tech company A minimum viable presentation™ Brendan Marsh, Agile Coach / PO @ Spotify @brendanmarsh
  2. 2. About me :) ‣ Agile Coach, Infrastructure & Operations Coaching teams that build & maintain big data @ Spotify ‣ Agile Coach, Spotify Running Coaching a product discovery (Innovation) squad ‣ Product Owner, Desktop Infra (now) Our Desktop Infra team releases our desktop client on OSX / Windows ‣ Innovation Guild Owner (now) Coordinating our Innovation Guild and also working on a company-wide initiative around Innovation
  3. 3. The Opportunity ‣ Differentiation - Streaming music is becoming commoditised ‣ Data People are creating running playlists, music is important ‣ Market Opportunity ~ 30 million runners in the US ‣ Belief This could be awesome! ‣ We have the technology! —>
  4. 4. Core Hypothesis ‣ High level hypothesis “We believe that a unique running experience will result in an increase of registrations (from runners) with a higher 6 month retention rate than regular users” ‣ Brand hypothesis “We believe that a unique running experience will differentiate our product from our competitors”
  5. 5. A team is born (Team Pre) ‣ Product Owner ‣ Agile Coach (me!) ‣ UX / Designer ‣ User Researcher ‣ Mobile Developer ‣ Content Curator ‣ Marketing
  6. 6. “What should Spotify build around the running use case?” (If anything?)
  7. 7. Our guiding principles ‣ (Validated) Learning > Working Software Also known as “Getting out of the building” our comfort zone” ‣ Lots of ideas + Natural selection Diverge & Converge … Then do that a bunch more times ‣ Shared understanding but diverse opinions Shared understanding of the problem space allows us to move fast. Diversity of opinion, knowledge and experience will produce the best product. ‣ Focus on the customer Seems obvious, but the urge to build for ourselves is strong.
  8. 8. How we worked
  9. 9. Step 1: Build shared understanding of: ‣ People Get to know each other Build trust ‣ Product What is the problem we are trying to solve? How does that problem relate to the business? ‣ Process How are we going to work and why? Team Agreement Expectations workshop
  10. 10. Step 2: Visualise your business plan
  11. 11. Step 3: Hypothesis Creation ‣ Personas What are our assumptions about our customers? ‣ Outcomes What are our assumptions about the outcomes they desire ‣ Features On a broad level, what features do we believe will satisfy those outcomes?
  12. 12. Step 4: Ideation & Validation
  13. 13. Step 5: Profit ‣ Approx 4 sprints (Oct - Dec 2014) ‣ MVP Pitched EOY ‣ Green light - Build it ‣ Launched May 2015
  14. 14. And it was a huge success :D
  15. 15. We contributed to differentiating our product “Apple Music vs the streaming competition” “Apple vs Spotify vs Tidal” spotify-tidal-comparison
  16. 16. Confidence > Validation Product Discovery is weird balance of science and subjectivity.
  17. 17. Fail fast at how you work, talk to some customers ASAP! Our goal for our first sprint? Get to the end without strangling each other :)
  18. 18. Educate stakeholders to align expectations Our primary context in our organisation is building stuff. This is totally different, not just for us, but for stakeholders too.
  19. 19. Acknowledge & discuss bias Bias is everywhere.
  20. 20. Visualise EVERYTHING Working fast makes you prone to forgetting stuff. Don’t lose important information, make it visible and surround yourself with it.
  21. 21. If its easy, you’re doing it wrong Seriously, this is hard. It’s frustrating, time consuming but oh so worth it.
  22. 22. Thanks! Brendan Marsh Email: Twitter @brendanmarsh Blog: (PS. We’re hiring!)