Alex Barrera is a serial entrepreneur whose latest venture, Press 42, is a startup-specific wire service that aims to link startups with journalists and bloggers. In this talk he evangelises the “lean startups” approach, which he believes is the surest path to successfully building products that people care about. Alex is also a HackFwd Referrer.
When Alex takes a straw poll in the room he discovers that many of the entrepreneurs in the audience are aware of the concept of lean startups but not many are sure if they are implementing the approach in their own organisations. In this talk he offers a historical overview of the lean approach, from its origins in Japanese manufacturing through its development in product design circles in the mid 20th century, to its use in customer design today.
Alex points out the three types of waste that the Japanese approach has identified: “muda” – anything that doesn’t add customer value; “muri” – excessive overheads; and “mura” – not doing the right thing at the right time. He explains how many startups are creating “muda” products, and how they can use the process of “kaizen” or “continuous improvement” to break out of the trap of trying to sell things that no-one wants.
The Demming Cycle as presented by Alex
The problem with many startups that Alex has seen is that they stop half way through the improvement cycle. They start with an idea, build and launch a product and then stop. They have no idea whether the product actually works for the customer or not. Alex says that he has encountered far too many startups that lament that they “don’t know why users aren’t using our product,” when they’ve never collected any hard data on their customers.
In this talk, Alex introduces us to the most important questions every startup should ask: “do my customers have a problem that needs solving?” and “is my product solving that problem?” He explains how bucket testing and learning through validation can help you iterate your way to a winning design and he busts some myths about the “minimum viable product.”
To discover how ideas from Japanese car plants in the 1940s can help startups worldwide in the 2010s, watch Alex’s talk. For more videos for startups, head to Passion Meets Momentum.