18 Jul 2014

Sprint Start

By Lily

Since our new teams arrived last Monday we’ve really put them through their paces.

Their first week kicked off with a talk from Tom Whicher of DrDoctor with some startup top tips then a load of legal gubbins with a brief pause to watch the Tour de France whizz by. Then we plunged them from Service Design with Jennie Winhall, Customer Development with the Poetica Team, Business Models, Impact Measurement with the Nominet Trust and Nesta Impact Investments, Goal Planning, Startup Culture and some game design to round off the week. By the end of it everyone’s heads were spinning faster than the Tour de France cyclists’ wheels.

We used to spread these workshops out over the twelve weeks of the programme, but we discovered that completely overwhelming people in their first week isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of the most difficult things about doing a startup is the fact that you don’t know all the stuff you don’t know. Mainly because you don’t know that you need to know it.

What happens when you take people through these exercises is that they start to see the gaps in their thinking, the problems with their assumptions, the areas that need more testing, the data that they need to gather.

Once they’ve realised these things, we want them to have the tools at their disposal to go after that knowledge. Steeped in lean startup as we are there is this idea that you just have to go out and talk to users. Obviously this is important, but how do you find them? what do you say to them once you do? What if you’re not even fully sure who they are yet?

By the end of the week our startups were armed with some as yet incomplete but incredibly useful tools with which to face the next three months: a service blueprint that highlighted the gaps, a list of customers to go and interview and a list of questions to ask them, a business model canvas, the beginnings of a theory of change, a five year plan and some useful ways of thinking about team issues should they arise.

These tools aren’t necessarily going to make your startup a success but they sure do help.