Lean Startup Experiment - Day 4 (and last)

At this moment we decided to finish our lean startup experiment. We were currently coping with technological difficulties with a relatively simple feature. It is now clear, that we will not be able to accomplish everything we wanted to until Friday evening. Thus, we all agreed to stop and use the last day somehow else.

Why did we struggle? A short retrospective revealed the following issues:

  • We did by far not do enough marketing - thus we had almost no real customer feedback on our site (there was exactly one person subscribing the service :-(). We did get some feedback indicating, that potential customers did not really get the idea of our page.
  • We did not prepare well enough for our experiment. We used a whole lot of technologies, we did not really know. This broke our neck today.
  • One week is really short for delivering even a relatively simple project in a serious manner.
  • Summertime is a really hard time to stay focused on such a project ;-)
But after all, we all still learned a great deal. Not only technology, but also how to work in short cycles as a small team. Setting small reachable targets every day and having short status syncs worked extremely well for us.

A big thank you to all readers of this blog and all supporters giving us valuable feedback on our little product! We will now go on and enjoy a great free three days before going back to business as usual :-)


Lean Startup Experiment - Day 3

Day 3 of our experiment is over. It was a day full of work and (from our point of view) huge progress on the project. We improved the layout massively and included some hints on the page about our intentions. We got the large image view working and took care of some legal aspects. You are now able to register yourself as a prospect customer by clicking on the login button and sending an email. We solved several infrastructural problems including deploying our app to the Amazon cloud (EC2).
If you would have asked us this morning, if we would be able to accomplish this - nobody of us would have said "yes" probably :-) It was a great day and we learned a great deal of things about all the new frameworks and technology we never used before!

Sven working hard to keep the backlog up-to-date. We are working to fast :-)
We are very proud of our layout. Especially because there are no designers in our team. If you like our design, too - or hate it: Please tell us! We need feedback! Fastly! (You may use the comments section, for example)

The current UI prototype contains some description on what we want to achieve. We love it :-)

Key learnings of Day 3

  • Working with lower outside temperatures is MUUUCH better!!!
  • JavaScript is shit
  • JavaScript is cool
  • We did not get any customer feedback today - which we regret. We will have to improve on that massively tomorrow!
  • On the other side - we got a lot of things done, which was really great fun!
  • IT guys cannot live without becoming sarcastic - even if successful ;-)
  • We think the purpose of our project is not clear enough for visitors on the first view. We will have to improve massively on that!
  • We are not able to acquire enough prospect customers by doing marketing over Facebook, Google+ and Twitter only. We will have to try out other marketing mechanisms.
Our main goal in the next two days is to come so far as to be able to go outside and sell our idea to passers-by. Functionality of the site should be so far, that those people will immediately see a value for themselves in using our project. Ambitious goal! Let's see...


Lean Startup Experiment - Day 2

The second day of our lean startup experiment is over now. What did we accomplish? What did we learn?

What did we accomplish? 

The first thing we did this morning was to reprioritize our product backlog. We then managed to sketch some (seventeen!) paper prototypes and chose the one we liked best in fifteen minutes. Afterwards we kicked the complete technology stack we wanted to use yesterday and set up a new one. But still we managed to get a first UI prototype online this evening. You can find it here: http://thatsmykid.de/

First UI live prototype of ThatsMyKid

Key learnings:

  • The prioritization of a product backlog in a lean startup project is stable for at most half a day...
  • Do not start lean startup experiments if it is 35 degrees celsius outside - can be quite demotivating :-(
  • The open working environment at Coworking Space Nuremberg is really cool and enjoyable.
  • The new technology stack (Meteor, JQuery, JavaScript) is really good for rapid prototyping.
  • Having an hourly status (review) meeting before commiting code helped us a lot to stay focused and avoid trouble.
  • Technology is waste (it takes a LOT of time - even if you are not an expert with it)
  • Driving three different technological approaches to our first prototype was a good idea, since we learned very fastly, which one would fit our project.
  • No design is the best design (at least almost none :-)
  • If you have your first UI prototype this is REALLY motivating!
This day started out very frustrating but had an amazing turning point when we first saw our UI prototype in the first review working. The deeper we dive into technology and minimal feature set, the more obvious it becomes, how massively complex a simple application must be. We are optimistic to learn a lot during the next three days and are glad that we love our design so much.


Lean Startup Experiment - Day 1

At this moment the first day of our lean startup experiment is at an end. What did we accomplish today? Essentially, we "proved" our hypothesis, that there might be some interest in an application as we imagine it. Additionally we got some valuable feedback for our app based on the paper prototype we constructed in the morning.
Paper prototype of ThatsMyKid

Sven showing our valuable feedback vom passers-by
Key learnings for today:
  • The paper prototype massively helped us to show people, what our idea of the app is. The feedback for our prototype was very helpful and good. Having something to present and touch is an invaluable advantage!
  • Feedback from potential future customers can be very motivating. Get feedback from customers as fast as possible!
  • Establishing a backlog - even for a product you have a relatively clear vision of - is hard. It is hard work to focus on the key features of your product!
  • The last step today was setting up the infrastructure to build a first prototype, which was very time consuming. We didn't expect it to be that hard. Even if many Google services (which our technology stack depends heavily upon) are really easy and convenient to use.

Preliminary ThatsMyKid logo
A lot is done. But there is still more to do...

We are now keen to see, what we will be able to deliver after the second day of our little lean startup experiment. Stay in touch!

A Lean Startup Experiment

Today we (Sven Schäfer, Sven Winkler and myself) are starting a lean startup experiment. We all took one week of and want to explore, how to apply lean startup methods and how much of an app we are able to develop in this time. The experiment startet this morning at 9:00 CEST in the coworking space in Nuremberg. It will be finished on Friday evening - no matter what we accomplished in that time. We are now eager to learn :-)

Our first step currently is to formulate and validate our first hypothesis, which is: "In addition to Facebook and Google+, there is still room for an app that allows parents to share and show photos of their children in a clear, easy and secure manner."

We do currently try to validate this hypothesis in two ways:

  1. We set up sites on Facebook and Google+ and uploaded photos of a paper prototype of our new app. We liked and postet on this platforms and will observe how many likes and "+1" we will get. If there will be a great number of likes, this is one indicator, that our hypothesis might be right. If nobody likes - we might be wrong with our assumption.
    Help us with feedback and have a look at our social media pages on Google+ and Facebook
  2. We will soon go outside into the city of Nuremberg and try to show our paper prototype to some passers-by. We will observe their reaction and therefrom derive, whether our hypothesis is right or wrong. This channel has the advantage, that we can ask for additional feedback and maybe adapt the initial idea and to formulate new hypotheses.
First paper prototyp of the ThatsMyKid app.
Retrospectives of all days can be found here: