Yesterday at inQvation we were honoured to get a visit from the brand new Incubation Studio team from LEGO Ventures. They are just setting out with some really cool people onboard, and they had asked if they could come and learn from our experiences, and of course they could. We are always willing to share and have a very transparent approach to the things we do, and the things we learn.
One of the things that came up during our discussion is how much work-in-progress it is to build a Studio-setup that works. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are doing random stuff every single day – we are most definitely not. But what it does mean is that nobody – not even the ones who claim they do – has a proven, repetitive model for how they make it work in all its fine print.
In fact, I don’t think you can create a model that works the same way every single time down to the tiniest detail. What you can do, however, is to create and fine tune an approach ‘above the water line’ so to speak, where you can communicate and replicate in broad terms, how your funnel for projects look. To that end to the naked eye it will look like a standardized approach, yet ‘below the water line’ it will be different tools, methods and learnings from time to time. I don’t think it can be in any other way.
If you are trying to solve a problem that your customers emphatize with but are NOT actively looking to solve right now, does that indicate that maybe the problem is not that big after all?
Conventional wisdom will say that it is definitaly a possibility. But take a step back and consider another thing:
When a user is not actively looking for a solution to a big problem, it is not that the problem isn’t real. It could instead be that the user, in the absence of obvious solutions, have plain and simple given up for now. And that they are just waiting to discover your solution.
Problems tend to persist. Even if we have (momentarily) given up on solving them.
Eventhough I am a big proponent of starting small and experimenting your way forward when building a startup or a new product or service for that matter, there is one thing that always needs to be in place: A vision.
It is so easy to get an idea and just start executing small scale. It is harder to succeed in closing the first sale, but it becomes super tricky if that first sale is not supported by a vision of where it is you want to take your new company long term.
With a vision in place, you will know whether your first sale sets you off in the right direction and gives you something to build on. With a vision in place, your chances of making that first sale happen based on criteria and terms that supports your overall goal increases. Without a vision you risk tumbling in the dark. And – more importantly – without a vision you risk building a business that will never really be able to take off but will just (best case) hum along.
Even the best and brightest ideas should start small on the implementation side. Just out of respect for the fact that you could have it terribly wrong. Especially if your opportunity is huge, you need to be mindful that you don’t run the risk of creating a big mess by overreaching from the ‘go’.
Naturally, if you are developing a brand new and hugely innovative service or product, the world has never seen before and thus not know it needs, you will think differently about it. My point is just that those invention cases are the outliers. Most of the time you will be trying to improve on something already out there.
Moving in smaller steps doesn’t kill your opportunity. Because of course you have a flexible roadmap that will adapt as you move along and learn more. And because you learn and show respect you will gain trust of those you are trying to serve. And that trust will serve you well when getting to the point where you start reaping all the good stuff you have sowed.
Hello 2020! It’s a new year and with that comes fresh opportunity including the opportunity to set really ambitious goals for the coming 12 monts. So naturally, I have done that on behalf of my work as Head of Studio at inQvation.
In 2020 I want us to co-found at least one startup taking on a really big problem that affects +100M people worldwide.
I want us to develop a project from idea to startup with an experienced entrepreneur-in-residence, where we use our combined strenghts and experience to make a mark. Maybe we could even combine it with the above goal?
And finally, I want us to create “A Path To Success” for great talent within the startup space in Denmark, where inQvation becomes the ‘go to’-place for those looking to unleash their potential to bring great tech solutions to people who have the problems and pains to match.
Ambitious? Yes. Doable? A stretch but if all things align right, why not? Realistic? Not if we don’t try.
(And then of course there are all the other things that comes with being part of a great team that pulls together when needed :-))
Yesterday we closed the submissions for our “iQnite Case Competition on Climate Change” with close to 60 dedicated and passionate challengers signed up for the task of trying to create new innovative solutions to tackle climate change.
I am blown away by the richness of ideas and the profiles of the people participating. It took a lot of effort and hard work to get the word out, and we have definitely learned a lot in the process. But it was totally worth it. On the other hand, I am slightly baffled that for all the talk about the need to do something more related to climate change, there weren’t more who were willing and/or able to step up to the plate and actually make an effort.
Next up is planning for the first of two bootcamps. It will take place on November 15-16, and it will be a real challenge to do a programme that fits with the diversity of ideas, industries and backgrounds of the participants. But it is all part of the fun and the experience. So bring it on!
The other day I met with a startup in need of some advice. They have been working on their offering for a couple of years, and they felt stuck in terms of getting it to market and choosing the right approach.
They showed me their product, and it prompted a conversation about who they have developed the product for, and what they actually, factually know about the customers, they are trying to get to buy into their offering. It was a classic example of solution looking for a problem.
We took a step back and talked about the value proposition based around the Value Proposition Canvas. And when it came to the problem solving real pains for real customers, it was painfully obvious that the biggest issue for them was that there is a disconnect between the customer pain points and how the product looks and welcomes you.
They left with new insights and ideas into how to progress from here. Sometimes it just pays to rewind the clock and look at whether there is a connection for real between needs, pains and gains and the actual product.
One of the keys to efficiency is to have a great box of tools fit for the task(s) at hand. For the same reason we’re constantly working to put the best toolbox at InQvation Studio together.
We already have some sharp tools in the box – Trello for overview, Mural for ideation, Lean Stack for jotting down high-level concepts for test etc – but we’re looking for more that fits the bill: Efficient yet flexible downstream while maintaining structure and oversight upstream.
The general idea is that no tool should be too rigid while at the same time not being so flexible that it becomes a total mess to manage. A tall order, it seems. Have you come across any that fits the description? It so please reach out.
During the years I have met many people who have been incredibly frustrated trying to make good use of Business Model Canvas. They often follow a traditional hype cycle, where they start up enthusiastically and full of energy and purpose only to burn out after a week or two with little progress.
While it is easy to blame the tool, the tool is not to blame here. It is more about how people are trying to use it and how little knowledge they have about effectively using it. Because Business Model Canvas can be an incredible useful tool – if you know how to use it to orchestrate building your business model.
It is a hard thing to teach, so the best thing is to show it. Luckily there is a poster boy example of stellar use of it from the International Business Model Competition in 2013, where OWLET knocked it out of the park and won with their incredible use of the model. Go and watch the video here – and then go and get the true value out of Business Model Canvas.
Today marks a truly exciting new chapter in my professional life as I embark on a new role as Head of Studio at InQvation in Taastrup on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Together with the greatest colleagues, you can imagine, I will be running experiments on ideas for new businesses with the goal of validating them enough to enable us to build great companies with strong teams set for success.
I will be utilizing all my passion and experience from developing and validating concepts and business models, and I look so much forward to this insanely cool challenge.