The first Lean Startup Machine (LSM) workshop held in Johannesburg was so successful that it’s coming back for another weekend of intensive startup idea validation in 2015.
"The way forward is to learn to see every startup in any industry as a grand experiment. The question is not "Can this product be built." In the modern economy, almost any product that can be imagined can be built. The more pertinent questions are 'Should this product be built.' and "Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services." To answer those questions, we need a method for systematically breaking down a business plan into its component parts and testing each part empirically." - Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
A full account of the LSM workshop detailing what happens over these 3 days can be viewed here.
The workshop was won by the team that came up with the Bill Scanner App, whom we interviewed after the event:
"The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop." – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
Imagine building a mobile application that digitises a restaurant bill, splits individual contributions accordingly and suggests a tip, with your target customer being in the LSM10+ group (LSM in this case abbreviating Living Standard Measure and not Lean Startup Machine :-D ). The look, feel and features of your product would be built with this customer in mind.
After some months of Product Development, imagine finding out that people in the LSM10+ group have no need for this product and in fact the only pain that this group experiences is whose turn it is to pay for the entire bill. Your assumed customer and solution were invalid resulting in months of waste. This is what the team at Bill Scanner App avoided.
"With scientific learning as our yardstick, we can discover and eliminate the sources of waste that are plaguing entrepreneurship." – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
We had been discussing the problem for 3 months. Pitching it every time the bill arrived. Also asking waitrons their experience #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
When we entered the LSM event, we decided it was the idea to pitch. We got most votes for the pitch which I’m told is a bad omen… #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
2 higher income folks tended to split evenly or alternate paying between individuals, so we adjusted our target user #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
3 people were willing to use tech to solve it, but said it can’t be like Siri and work 90% of the time. It had to be bullet-proof #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
We thought of using Evernote OCR. When testing the app as a solution, the reception was great. But few were willing to pay for it #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
We had to come up with a way to monetise. We settled on building an analytics platform for restaurants using the data from bills #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
"Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer; anything else is waste" – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
We asked Bill Scanner App what they thought of the workshop outcome:
Also, you’re guaranteed to meet many like-minded people. Some teams got funding offers and most have further developed their ideas #iAfrikan— BillScannerApp (@BillScannerApp) November 13, 2014
Besides the above gains, Standard Bank of South Africa (who were the Platinum Sponsors of the workshop) offered the Bill Scanner App team the following prizes:
- R 10,000 Startup Capital in a Standard Bank Business Account,
- R 10,000 Incredible Connection voucher and
- R 10,000 Book voucher
Edge Growth (Gold Sponsors) awarded Bill Scanner App with the following:
- R20,000 Startup Capital from Edge Action (their SME Investment Fund) and
- 6 months incubation from The Engine (their startup incubator).
In hope to entice the Bill Scanner App team to migrate to Cape Town, PayFast (Champion Sponsor) awarded them a case of Neethlingshof wine.
In addition to this, as were all other participants, the Bill Scanner App team was awarded 12 months of membership at JoziHub to further their projects. JoziHub (Champion Sponsor) was also the venue sponsors for the workshop.