David Cole was the winner of the October 2011 Lean Startup Machine held at Grind Space in New York. Pictured here with teammates Rob Caucci, Natasha Gajewski, Ziyad Hermez and Herby Reynaud.
This is the story of how David took the Lean Startup plunge with a company called Outovate...
The core concept for Outovate popped into my head at 2:00 AM on the Saturday night (Sunday morning, really) the weekend before LSM. At the time, it was simply “a way for people with great product ideas to connect with the companies best-suited to commercialize them.” For whatever reason, I decided to write it down. Seven hours and one unwelcome sunrise later, I had a name, logo, domain purchased, a scrappy business plan, and no sleep.
The very next day, a coworker told me about Lean Startup Machine. I figured what the hell, I should give it a shot. So I showed up at Union Square Ventures that Thursday night with nothing more than an idea, and no expectations of what would happen.
In a single weekend, Lean Startup Machine not only enabled, but forced me, to put that idea to the test. After assembling the team, we focused our efforts on achieving the greatest possible customer validation. We were determined to get a signed letter of intent from an executive at a multibillion-dollar consumer goods company.
By Sunday morning, after an arduous and rapid-fire series of networking emails and phone calls, we had our letter of intent in-hand.
Over the course of the weekend, Outovate evolved from the simple idea of an “innovation crowdsourcing platform” into a living, breathing startup working to revolutionize the way that innovation itself is achieved and measured. Our mission is to do for innovation what Twitter did for news: give the power to the people. In the same way that Twitter democratized the flow of information, Outovate will empower consumers to decide what products go on the shelves.
Outovate came out of the weekend with a ton of momentum. I quit my job at 9:00 AM the next morning and immediately got to work turning Outovate from a validated idea into a live company. I got on the phone with interested consumer goods executives we had reached out to over the weekend to do research, and then began searching for the right technical co-founder with whom to build the business.
LSM was nothing short of life changing. My understanding of how to build a successful business shifted from “How the heck do I do that?” to “JFDI”. I would highly recommend registering to attend the next event in your city. You just might end up quitting your job and pursuing your dream.