A critical part of the lean startup movement is experimentation and creation of a minimum viable product (MVP). Five startups shared their experiences last night at the NYC Lean Startup Meetup on exactly what to expect with the approach. Here are some of the takeaways:
The ABC Tool (Michele Serro) – An application that manages the home buying process, Michelle discussed the effectiveness of working with a conceptual flow of their product early on. Discussing with users and agents the process helped her team focus on what functionality really resonated and allowed significant changes before any code was actually written. Although not an actual product in this case, the exercise prevented unnecessary development.
Contently (Shane Snow) – A marketplace for freelance writers and publishers, Shane utilized small pieces of add-on code to offer different functionality and monitor user reactions. In some cases functionality was not actually built out but offered simply to gauge interest. Based on the responses, functionality would either be developed or scrapped.
CityPockets (Cheryl Yeoh) – An application to manage daily deals, Cheryl and her team used extensive experimentation at different phases to refine their focus on what user psychology was applied when interacting with the site. As her experience with experimentation increased, her tests were more precise and productive.
Dispatch.io (Nick Stamas) – An application to manage files across multiple cloud services, Nick tweaked an early application to focus on needs of those who required easy transfer of files using the cloud.
Ordr.in (David Bloom) – Restaurant API to support food ordering functionality, David built very little of his early product before getting specific contracts and requirements from his initial customers. Based on that feedback, the initial product was created and additional functionality was added based on experimentation and feedback.
A common theme throughout the night was that although experimentation and creation of an MVP was very helpful, there was a general unease with releasing a product that was in many cases very raw. This was especially prevalent with founders who had a design background.