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News  12, Jun 2012

[Echelon Live] Three Steps to Epiphany by David Weekly

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Latest Update: 12/6 @ 4:50PM

David Weekly takes the stage and gave insights into building a true lean startup.

This post is part of the live coverage of Echelon 2012, Asia’s leading tech startup event happening on June 11 – 12. If you spot typos, slight inaccuracies or need more clarification, do leave a comment in the post and we’ll address it in the next edit.

Starting off his keynote by introducing the all too familiar Lean startup terminology and where it originates: Steve Blank’s Four Steps to Epiphany. David Weekly exercised the lean process by sharing his own version of Three Steps to Epiphany.

#1st step to Epiphany: Model your user

First on his list, undertand who is your user. David shares that your job is to find a user that have a problem. Subsequently, get a solution to it and  get paid for the solution. That’s your job. What matters is not you or your technology, what matters is you to solve a problem for your user. For that to happen, you have to spend a lot of time understand your users and their problem, and be a global expert in the community of expert where you are trying to serve. After you understand your users, you have to have a deep understanding of your implementation. “Remember this too, nobody cares about your startup, other than your mum”, says David Weekly.

#2nd step to Epiphany: Fake it till you make it

There are a lot of tools out there which can help you kick off your product without building a world class backend infrastructure. Tools that were mentioned by David includes: Google Docs, a mailing list, weebly, as well as Microsoft Excel. Ask yourself, whether can you start it with something as simple as a mailing list, because you have to start somewhere, and your idea usually turns out wrong, and you want to find it from your users. So the main question is, how do you make sure that you dont waste your precious time: Model your users through hypothesis and test it – if you cant build a mailing list of community, you could be wrong. So when you run a startup: dont overthink. Dont start with big complicated system as you tend to overthink, because its fun to overengineer.

With these simple tools, what follows next is to validate your idea. David cautioned that validating early with your friend, asking them “Would you use it?” - cannot lah (loosely translated to its a bad idea). Feeling embarrassed to ship? Suck it up, because it is nearly impossible to reach the perfect moment to ship your product with no bugs and all the content. If you are embarrased, you should probably shipped it. The world is a more forgiving place than it seems. Then the question is, when is the right point to ship: the point where you think someone out there can find some utility in your product.

#3rd Step to Epiphany: Be lazy. Remove complexity. Add sensible defaults.

Some of the questions which can help identify the features you need include: How did your users find about you? How did they experience/feel about your product? How quickly they get to understand how your product works. Listen to your customers, but dont let them dictate features. While it’s hard to say no to customers, you have to think through all the possible changes or addition/removal of features because once you implement a change for a small select group of users, you have to explain that to ALL of your customers. Take the requests seriously but dont implement them instantly. Understand all your users, collect their stories, think of how to hide complexity, automate, and remember, unfolding UI allows you to simplify the default experience.

Thanks for following the live coverage of Echelon 2012. If you’d like to check out more coverage of the sessions at Echelon 2012, follow this link.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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