Week 2 of FAIP 2021 was focused on understanding the customer needs from their perspectives; and co-developing solutions that best solve customer problems or meet their needs using design thinking methodologies. To build up on the lessons from session 2, we further delved into lean start up methodologies in week 3. The goal of our third session was to help the founders to learn how to implement the design thinking process in a quick and efficient manner using minimum resources possible.
Lean startup is a method of building startups and managing their growth through continuous experimenting, testing and iterating on the products developed based on feedback gathered from the end users. The methodology was introduced by Eric Ries an American entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup. The methodology is premised on the concept of avoiding wasting time and resources building products with features that customers do not need or care about.
Early stage stage businesses in the developing economies are in most cases resource constrained; hence efficient use of their time and the meagre resources at their disposal is very important when at the seed stage. Efficient resource allocation is therefore a core skill that founders need to learn at this stage; and our third session with the FAIP 2021 startups was focused on building this mindset and capacity for the founders.
The objective of the lean startup methodologies session was to remove the notion of creating perfect products from the onset; and focus the minds of the founders on a continuous improvement journey where customer feedback charts the next course of action. To achieve this, we linked the design thinking principles learnt in the second session with the lean startup techniques to arrive at a streamlined 3 step process of build, measure and learn.
Our startups had in the previous week gone through the design thinking process of empathizing with their customers, defining their customers’ problems and ideating on possible solutions. The last two stages in the design thinking process of prototyping and testing then naturally blended with the lean startup techniques of build, measure and learn.
Under the first stage of lean startup – the build stage, participants in FAIP 2021 used the feedback they had from their customers to work on incremental improvements in their products and services to meet their customers’ needs . The focus here is to have minimal tweaks using minimal resources and expending a small budget; then test them with a few customers to get their feedback on the same before a large scale roll out.
With feedback coming in from customers after the small tweaks made on their products, the startups then continuously keep track of the insights gathered from the customer feedback. This is the second stage of lean startup methodology; the measuring stage.
Measuring helps the startups to identify product features that need to be refined, those to remove and improvements required on their products in order to meet their customers’ needs. As they use their customers’ feedback to inform product development decision making, the startups are in effect continuously learning as per the third stage of lean startup.
Just like the design thinking process which is continuous as the business grows, startups participating in FAIP 2021 will continue to deploy the lean startup techniques learnt in week 3; in order to keep them aligned with their customers’ needs and maintain their competitive advantages.