You Actually Did This?

As an entrepreneur one of the most satisfying feelings was having an idea that few thought was rational, viable, or the common wisdom and building it into a profitable company.

Though it’s over a decade since I’ve done a startup, I had that feeling again over the last few weeks.

You Actually Did This?
When I wrote the Four Steps to the Epiphany and invented the Customer Development process, my goal was to simply explain to myself what was broken in building a startup and propose an alternative path.

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of Lean Startup conferences and presentations from companies actually using Customer Development to find a business model. It’s no longer a theory. And I found myself having the same kind of satisfied (and surprised) reaction.

The Pivot
One of the key ideas of the Customer Development process was that many of the initial assumptions about your business model would probably be wrong, so it built in an iteration loop to fix them. This business model iteration loop – the Pivot is what makes startups agile and opportunistic. “Pivoting” is when you change a fundamental part of the business model.

Five Time Pivot Champ – Xobni
I learned something from all the companies that presented, but the one that made me smile the most was Xobni. Here were two 20-something founders with $12K in the bank who out of necessity became a Lean Startup and used customer and agile development. It’s not clear that if they had initially raised millions of dollars that they would have had a better result.

Take a look at their presentation and see how they got to 5 million users.

Continuous Learning – Dropbox
The Dropbox team also had a great story about pivoting and customer development.

One of their slides said it best, “Learn Early, Learn Often.”

Watch the video of the Dropbox talk.

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Lessons Learned

  • Most startup business models are initially wrong.
  • The process of iteration in search of the successful business model is called the Pivot.
  • Learn early, learn often.
  • The speed at which you Pivot is inversely proportional to the amount of cash in your bank.

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