All Things Lean: Lessons to run your own Start-up

Having been selected to part of the first cohort of Startupbootcamp (SBC) FinTech Dubai brought its own excitement and anxiety. We were excited because our idea to provide a platform through which smallholder farmers can be connected with finance had been validated, however, the anxiety of leaving operations and being away for the programme period couldn’t be hidden. We settled it in our minds and hearts after deep deliberation of the business model and the fact that this opportunity would help the business in the long term. Over the pilot period we made sure to live the mantra of “creating and capturing some of the value we created”, that which was materializing.

Before we got to Dubai – United Arab Emirates, we had already received emails indicating activities for week one of the FinTech Accelerator,Pressure! But let’s not focus on that. This post captures lessons learnt in week one and how it can be implemented for your own startup. Sessions were led by Dan Roe of outthebox.io. He focused on running Lean as a business and the Value Proposition Canvas.

So before I delve into the lessons, I will indulge you to develop the Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas for your business. I may charge you to review and fine tune it for you. But keep in mind that these are personal lessons I picked up, at the end of the day you are in charge of making decisions you feel or know will help your business. Enjoy!

  • DO NOT SCALE PREMATURELY

Take careful steps when building the product, the tech or infrastructure, spending big on acquisition and staffing up. Note that the dream is to find our whether customers will pay you before you’ve finished bringing the product to the market. Most of the time we get super excited to scale or move the business to the next level having really not thought through or tested all assumptions fully. Be careful you don’t build product no one wants or needs.

  • LEAN START-UP

This model favours experimentation over-elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iteration over traditional “big design up front” development. Search for your business model and execute dedicatedly, don’t be afraid to borrow from already existing-working models.

In your bid to get the gold, note that it’s not about making a single jump but by testing, verifying your assumptions and making a number of steps which I will call “the process”.

Now what do you see as your 3 biggest risk right now? Think about it. Write them down and don’t forget that the biggest risk for any start-up is spending too much time building the wrong thing.

 

The Lean start-up works on 3 basic principles

  1. Our start-up is a big pile of guesses
  2. The faster we can bounce our guesses off the market, the better we’ll do
  3. Learning is progress; building stuff isn’t

To conclude it is good to mention that the Lean Start-up has a relentless and iterative focus that prioritises the speed of customer validated learning above all else. Week one wasn’t all work, we ended the week with a trip to the desert so stay tuned for photos and a post.

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“Connecting Finance With Farmers”

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