The following post originally appeared here on 8/1/11.
Its great that there is going to be a Lean Startup Machine (#LsmEDI) as part of A Bit On The Side.
The startup community in Edinburgh is strong, there are a lot of companies, great energy and enthusiasm, but...
I hate that Mr Negative but, but... The focus in Scotland has for a while been on technology and grants with a side-order of consultancy (I am guilty on all three counts at my own startup Hypernumbers). We have, in TechMeetUp, a great local scene. About a year ago the Scottish Lean Circle was set up to help shift the community towards customers, product and cashflow.
The Lean Circle has been going great guns. We have had great presentations from the likes of Tom at Fanduel who gave us a step-by-step guide of how they did customer development along with the inside scoop on the impact on their financials. All the folk at Scotland's top startup Skyscanner have been very helpful - we had a great Metrics For Startups meeting there last month. A whole host of startups have presented at the Lean Circle - sharing their experience, advancing their customer hypotheses and getting very robust (and helpful) criticism for their pains.
Doing a full Lean Startup Machine weekend, with a mixture of mentors from NY, from Auld Reekie hersel (and hopefully a few from London Town) is an important part of this cycle. We want to go from a team talking about their customer discovery once a month to a full squad of 50, 70, 100 people in a range of teams actually doing customer discovery over a weekend.
We are all familiar with the build and launch a product in 48 hours startupa-launcha-builda-thon-a-thingie. Lean Startup Machine is kinda like that, but not really. It lasts a weekend and involves a lot of work, but... The focus is on defining a set of customer and product hypotheses and then testing them - without building anything. The focus is on building product against validated hypothesis - taking your ideas out to customers before investing time and effort to build them.
The validated learning approach gets companies only to build things customers want and helps startups get to cashflow and traction earlier. Most startups fail in cashflow - burning through any money (from funders, from founders, from family) before reaching a definitive conclusion on their proposition.
A great #LsmEDI should help Scotland go from a scene where there are a lot of startups, some of which make money and are sustainable, to one where there are lot of startups that are succeeding. Getting #LsmEDI to work as part of Turing is a big challenge, but one that I am looking forward to.
Register for the event here. Bring it on!
About the Author: Gordon Guthrie is the CEO/CTO of hypernumbers.com and has previously worked in senior IT positions for BT, Scottish Enterprise, Intelligent Finance and Direct Line Financial Services.
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