Building a Startup. The beginning (0/∞)

This post marks a new series of posts, to be written in an effort to learn and understand the ideas behind building a successful company by following the Lean Startup example. The idea of the series, is to try and document my own learning path to the theory and practice of the Lean Startup methodology, including all the thinking, execution and results that will occur.

I am sure this will prove a fruitful journey for myself, and these posts will be an invaluable source of introspection for the future to come. In the lucky case that the effort undergone here will also lead to the birth of a successful enterprise, I will hope that it will also serve as my own personal HOWTO for someone else's entrepreneurial journey!

Some background 😔

My early days in entrepreneurship started back in 2014, after attending a few hackathons. Being around other fellow hackers and entrepreneurs, I found my self surrounded by a newly-formed at the time, startup community.  Without realizing it, I got on the train of pitching at competitions, attending startup events, meetups, thinking products in terms of MVPs, the whole shebang. It was interesting and exciting. At the same time, I was running my newly-founded web-agency focusing on custom software development which pretty much translated in building MVPs (or that's how I looked at them at the time) for other startups.

For the next 6 years, while running my web agency with my co-founder, and always feeling entrepreneurial deep inside, we did a number of efforts to build products following the 'lean startup' mentality, as side-projects, along our agency-business. All of them failed miserably (This is not to say that we did have our good moments, but those didn’t last long to attest to an eventual success). I always felt this was due to lack of focus and commitment from our side while trying to run our agency at the same time.

I have come now to the conclusion that the main reason of failure was not the lack of commitment, but rather the mistaken thought of knowing what we were doing. We didn't. Or at least I didn't.

The turn-around 😱

After investing some time the past few months in understanding more about finance, business, management and startups, it became evident that although all the things we learned from attending startup events and seminars, were somewhat correct at what they were trying to say, they weren't deep enough to allow us to form a coherent understanding of their purpose and aim. Which I would like to believe was to convey the ideas of the Lean Startup.

It's even more possible, that I just failed to capture their underlying point and had convinced myself that I understood were in fact I didn't. I've build numerous products in the past, all boasting to be 'MVPs' with thoughtful pruning of unnecessary functionality to prove the idea, but on the other hand, there isn't a single case of actually forming a hypothesis, running a test, and measure the results in a way to offer learning in the product-building process. If you haven't done that, that means you pretty much didn't understand the core of Lean Startup. I am sure I did not.

The good news is that this is clear to me now.  Being lean, is about Learning, rather than anything else (the aim might be to build a successful enterprise, but the work is primarily focused around learning things with your actions, rather than acting. Enough learning will ideally lead to something that people want, and success to follow). And what I love more than anything else, is to learn.

The pledge 😎

In an effort to deeply understand and eventually evaluate the ideas and practices behind the Lean Startup (cause by now, I've learned not to take anything for granted, even if thousands of people say you should), I will embark on a journey to build a product by following the Lean Startup approach to the letter and document the process while doing it.

I am an engineer at heart, and having to throw out in the open semi-build things, half-baked ideas or even smoke-screens just to evaluate hypotheses, isn't something that comes easy to me (after-all, what I pride myself most is the building part, which should happen in the least possible manner if I am to do this right). So if I am to succeed, is by being less of what I am right now.

🚀 Stay tuned, great (or not so great) things are about to start happening!