In 2013 High Tech Rochester, a technology incubator in our city, Rochester, NY, started a new program for software startups called the HTRLaunchPad. The program was quite radical for our area because it utilized concepts developed by Steve Blank and taught at Stanford in Silicon Valley. The basic concept is simple:
“A startup is not a business, it is a search for a scalable, profitable business model”
You find this business model by creating a hypothesis that says:
“We believe we’ve identified a significant problem that people will pay to solve.
We think there are enough people with this problem to justify a business.
We think this ______ is the solution to this problem.
We think this_______ is the total value of that solution to those people.”
The assumption is that this hypothesis is no more than a guess until it is tested, refined and proven. This is done by talking to people who you believe have the problem, face to face whenever possible. The goal is 100-150 conversations over a three month period. The team testing the hypothesis takes what they learn and improves, revises or discards their hypothesis until it is either viable or a failure. Both outcomes are valuable.
We helped apply this process to 12 startups, Alex serving as an advisor and Martin as a member of the teaching team. It was a huge success with all twelve teams completing the program and several raising investment rounds. The program continues. You can learn more at www.htrlaunchpad.com
A great experience but….it got us thinking.
The text we were using was very complex, over 550 pages. Yet the concept was quite simple. We thought we could do a concise version that incorporated things we’d learned in our program.
But there was more. We immediately began thinking about using these techniques in other situations: Community building, tech transfer in universities, working with local businesses, helping find new markets and products for growing businesses; even in the enterprise. Basically anywhere where someone was thinking about starting something new.
The result of this experience is The Customer Discovery Matrix: A Concise Guide To Starting Anything, our brief guide to the entire process of developing, testing and proving new ideas.
We want to hear about your experiences starting things. All it takes is a conversation.
Martin and Alex