I did something absolutely unfathomable: I learned to start a business in three days.
It all started a few months ago, when a campaign to bring Lean Startup Machine to Johannesburg caught my eye. I have been curious for a while now about how to go about starting a business, and succeeding. So I signed up.
A few months later, I saw that LSM was indeed coming to Johannesburg, and one of the sponsors, iAfrikan, was giving away tickets to the event. I hadn’t managed to save the money I needed to buy a ticket, so I decided to take my chances. Again, I signed up!
A few days after that I got an email from the lovely folks at iAfrikan, informing me that I had actually WON!
Woohoo! And the rest is history, as they say.
Only kidding. I was just getting started.
Lean Startup Machine helps people who are curious about starting a business to validate their business idea. It’s not a matter of what you think the world needs next just so you can fill your pockets.
We LSMers have to go through the process of defining the problem we aim to solve, go out and speak to customers, and actually prove that the problem exists. We then have to prove that people would actually pay to have the problem solved for them.
My team and I decided to create the basis for a web app that helps book-lovers meet up at a real party in their city. They can connect and swap ideas, hugs, respect and even actual books. The app keeps track of BookParty members and what books they have swapped.
We met book-lovers of all ages – some in coffee shops and at public markets. We also had a mind-blowing experience interviewing people at ‘Collectors Treasury’ in Maboneng Precinct which held over 2 million books! There were antiques, old music records and, of course, books EVERYWHERE. I can’t wait to go back.
What we learned was that book-lovers, like us, enjoy the solitude of reading. It is a journey that cannot be experienced otherwise. However, we realized that young book-lovers, especially, craved the opportunity to meet with other like-minded individuals in public and share more than just air.
Ultimately, we did not win the competition. We did, however, win a lot of support on the streets and online, with a surprising number of people buying into our concept and signing up to be on our mailing list. We went as far as to plan and sell tickets for our very first loveBookParty, happening next Saturday at Jozihub.
From a business standpoint, next week’s party will help us refine our product and set us on the road to developing our app. Ultimately, we would like book-lovers anywhere to be able to use the BookParty platform to connect whenever, wherever.
It was an incredibly challenging weekend. There were a few late nights/early mornings and a lot of time spent ‘Getting Out Of The Building’. I tend to over-think things a lot but this style taught me to stop worrying and just execute.
The value of LSM is that, if you really want to have something to show for, you need to stop planning, get out of the building and start doing.
A super huge thanks go to my teammates, Seipati (wordsmith and idea builder) and Matt (codesmith and idea machine). I am so happy to be executing this idea with you even after LSM has ended. Can we promise that there will no more sticky notes?
We hope to see you next week!
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