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De-risk your web project thanks to Lean Startup

Jean-François Arnaud
Jean-François ArnaudCEO of Blacksmith

Many first-time entrepreneurs have this big flaw

Blacksmith accompanied many entrepreneurs, and one of the main flaws we have observed among first-time entrepreneurs is that of wanting the perfect product that does everything (and better than everyone else) before launching.

To take a metaphor: the entrepreneur decides to work for months to create a stealth nuclear submarine with an integrated spa... while the market was actually waiting for a bulletproof car.

To quote Reid Hoffman (Linkedin co-founder): "If you're not ashamed of the first version of your product, you launched it too late.".

The idea is that many entrepreneurs create products that meet their personal criteria, and they are ready to do anything to succeed in sticking perfectly to the version of the product they have in their head...

The results :

  • sometimes a lot of "burnt" money on a product that does not necessarily find its market

  • poor prioritization of product features (we know that, 8 out of 10 features imagined for our first mobile app were of no interest to our users)

  • a product that comes out late (where an "MVP" version could have been launched in a few weeks or months)

If we follow Reid Hoffman's quote : "done is better than perfect".

By using a Lean Startup methodology, you can derisk your project by going through agile development phases and iterating on your product by taking into account market feedback.

Let's see how Lean Startup works below.

Many first-time entrepreneurs have this big flaw

What is lean start-up?

Developed by Eric Ries (entrepreneur / innovation consultant), the Lean Startup is inspired by the lean method, which was developed in the 1950s by Toyota to improve the efficiency of its production chain.

Lean aims to eliminate waste and maximize customer value based on the assumption that companies should learn by doing and from customer feedback, rather than following a plan laid out in advance.

Once you have created your Proof-Of-Concept (POC) in order to validate that the project is technically achievable, you can focus on the creation of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or minimum version of the product.

This MVP will allow you to collecting data usage and iterate in order to develop the product according to user feedback.

The UX approach shares part of this design principle by putting the needs of the users at the center of the reflection to evolve the product.

What is lean start-up?

How to apply Lean Startup to derisk your project

Here are some steps you can follow to use lean startup and derisk your project:

Identify the basic hypothesis: before starting your project, it is necessary to define its basic hypothesis, that is to say the idea on which your project is based. This allows you to better identify and understand the risks and uncertainties related to your project in order to manage them effectively.

  1. Create an MVP (minimum viable product): ie the minimum version of its product to test its basic hypothesis with users. It makes it possible to collect feedback and valuable data to reduce the risks associated with its launch and refine its project.

  1. Test your MVP with your users: once you have created your MVP, it is important to test it with your users and collect feedback and usage KPIs. This will allow you to validate or invalidate your basic hypothesis and make the necessary decisions to improve your project.

  1. Analyze your results and adapt your project: once you have collected data on your MVP, it is important to analyze them to understand what works and what does not work.

  1. Collecting usage data allows you to adapt your project to make it evolve with a "customer centric" approach rather than iterating according to the features you imagine to be the best for your target.

In the end, this approach allows you to quickly go to market with a first product version and test your idea.

A good solution to get started quickly and reduce production costs, perhaps (when feasible) to:

1) Launch an MVP in no-code or low-code

2) Have this MVP validated by users to validate the relevance of the idea and potentially obtain initial funding (love money, grants, French Tech scholarship, etc.)

3) Launch a more mature, scalable and customizable version of the product, for example in custom code.

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