It is one thing to read a concept in a book, it is quite another to live it.
The intense experience in Lean Startup Machine is a unique window into the world of entrepreneurship, particularly to those coming from non-traditional fields. Given the remarkable potential of Lean Startup to spur innovation, the Health for America team attended a Lean Startup Machine workshop in New York City. Here is a brief summary of their experiences:
Sarah Struble, Program and Partnership Officer
50 seconds. That’s what you get at a Lean Start Up Machine workshop to share your idea. Public speaking is not my forte, and as I inched forward in line toward the stage, I began to regret my decision to pitch.
Heart pounding and mind raising, I grabbed the mic. I only coherently articulated 50% of what I wanted to convey, but it was enough. My idea was a hit, and all of a sudden I was a semi-reluctant leader in charge of a team working to link consumers with farmers markets - an idea I had come up with just the night before. In testing our hypothesis, my team figured out that there wasn’t a great demand due to existing services in New York City. We pivoted and tested alternative hypotheses, ultimately settling on a product to help people follow their diets.
While it was an incredibly rewarding experience, I won’t be dropping everything anytime soon to launch our new product like some Lean Start Up Machine alumni have. For me, learning the process was the real success. Getting out of the building to validate your concept is a key step that is often neglected in entrepreneurship and product design. Further, pairing rigorous validation of ideas with IDEO’s human centered design techniques creates a solid foundation for the creation of solutions. Health for America Fellows will use this foundation to take on the challenge of designing a childhood asthma solution prototype.
Join us in a hackathon-style design challenge in Washington, DC on Saturday July 20 and you could walk away with the $2500 grand prize! Visit https://gamifyasthma-es2.eventbrite.com/ to learn more.
Abena Dakwahene, Health for America Fellow
The Lean Startup weekend in New York City was an exhilarating experience! On Friday evening, about 90 individuals gathered together in the Alley NYC to share their pitches and “get lean”. All of the pitches were wonderful, but The Couples Connection stood out to me. The platform of The Couples Connection was to match up couples with similar interests in big cities, similar to Match.com with a couples twist. We went out to Bryant’s Park and Central Park to find couples, validate our assumptions, and see if this was a need for this kind of service in the city. It turns out there was: 15 out of 21 couples were on board with The Couples Connection and gave us ideas to incorporate into the product. We wanted to test a minimum viable product so we set up a MeetUp account to attract some couples. In about 16 hours, we had 5 couples sign up! The conference taught me valuable lessons in entrepreneurship, start-ups, and business models. I was very impressed with the passion and discipline from all of the participants!
Glenn Means III, Health for America Fellow
Traveling to New York City and being a part of The Lean Startup Machine weekend was truly an amazing experience. While I was completely exhausted, I learned a great deal and made some long-lasting connections.
Arriving in New York City I was terrified to pitch my idea but overcame my fear and was very thankful to have had the opportunity. Even though I didn’t make it to the top 20, I was fairly close at number 22 on the leader board. I then had to select one of the top 20 teams to join and an idea involving cooking caught my eye. Cooking is something that I have always wanted to be better at but more importantly I wanted to understand healthier ways to eat foods that are in my kitchen.
Our team came up with the idea of a ‘reverse cookbook’ to help people better use items in their kitchen. Another goal was to help people who have five items or less in their fridge find creative ways to use those items. Based on the “get out of the building” strategy used by the Lean Startup Machine, we went to Macy’s, Madison Square Park, and Whole Foods to find people who might be interested in this product. The people we spoke to were so excited by the idea that they were willing to pay for it as well as give video testimonials. They also gave us tremendous feedback enabling our team to refine our idea. We then created a minimal viable product in which we could demonstrate how the application would help people with serving size, time control, and creativity all in one. We called the application “MacGyver’s Kitchen”.
Our team was nervous upon presenting to the judges and were thrilled to walk away from the event winning 3rd Place! This was a big moment for our team and for me because it made me realize that I could an impact through designing a new wonderful product. By having this amazing experience I walk away from the weekend excited about opportunities in the start-up world. Ideas are already forming in my mind and I hope to see them come to life one day.
Miki Lendenmann, Health for America Fellow
The Lean Startup Machine workshop was a unique experience that took me way out of my comfort zone. During the intense three-day workshop, I worked on a team with an energetic, diverse group of leaders. Throughout the weekend, we “got out of the building” to test our problem, hypotheses, and assumptions about the idea of “FlexFit” – a universal gym pass for heavy travelers and gym-lovers. Based on conversations with two-dozen people on the streets of New York City, we zoomed in on our target market and pivoted our hypothesis. How do you create a product or service that people actually want? These direct conversations allowed us to immediately invalidate, pivot, and then validate our hypotheses.
Furthermore, the fast-paced, team-oriented work ethic opened my eyes to a day in the life of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak-hearted; creating a startup takes an incredible amount of energy and synergy, positivity and perseverance. Taking action in the streets, working diligently on our landing page, and practicing our animated presentation all made the Lean Startup Machine a fantastic experience. Listening to the 19 other teams pitch showed me just how much people are capable of creating in a short amount of time. Overall, it was inspiring to witness all of the positive energy surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship this weekend.