Today we’re soft-launching a simple pilot of our latest project, which we call FIXDIT.
FIXDIT is for homeowners and home maintenance professionals who wants to get rid of all the horror stories about home maintenance and redecoration projects. It is a challenging area, and lots of homeowners put off doing projects for fear of getting into a quagmire. I know, because I am one of them myself. Which is why I thought it was an important problem to try to find a better solution for.
With FIXDIT we’re looking to bring the love back between home owners and maintenance professionals. We try out a completely new spin on the market and the dynamics in it, and time and – most importantly – your reception of the concept will tell whether this is the start of something more or just a stupid idea.
Enjoy! (the website is in Danish)
When I conduct interviews with potential customers I like to do it in two rounds.
The first round is an online questionaire that establishes the base and provides context for the interview. Customers agree to filling it out and are usually very good at it. What it does is that it helps me understand them and where they are coming from a little bit more before the actual interview, so we can make the most of our time together.
When I then sit with them for the interview itself, we don’t have to waste time establishing the baseline. We can go directly into talking about the stuff that matters to the customer, and I can use the info from the questionaire as background and context and thus get the best possible outcome of the interview.
It always give the best results.
When you start something out it is super easy to get caught in absolute numbers. How many visitors do you have to your website? How many downloads does your app get? 1, 100, 10.000?
But absolute numbers are not that important. More often than not they are a function of the effort and investment to drive awareness and traffic, anyway. No, what matters are the relative numbers.
What big a percentage of those that went to your new website signed up for the offering? How many of those that downloaded the app created a profile? How big a percentage of them actually activated it? And so on. Those are the kind of numbers that matter – the relative numbers. And in combination with some clearly preset success criteria for what they should look like, those are the numbers that will determine whether you are onto something or not.
Reading about data being the new oil and the next gold rush being a data gold rush, one thing stood out for me:
It will be interesting to see who becomes the Levi Strauss of this particular mining rush. Strauss became rich not from mining operations but by selling clothing and equipment to miners…I wonder how much that history will repeat itself in this rush to mine data. It remains to be seen who benefits or ultimately profits from all the data mining that will happen.Innovate on Purpose: There’s gold in the data…
Sometimes we are all so busy looking in the same places, flocking for the same opportunities, creating competition and settling for less in the end that we neglect the real opportunites, the underserved ones. Be mindful.
You can have the best idea or the best product out there but still get a resounding ‘No’ from your stakeholders. When that happens it is always hugely frustrating, and it is only naturel to ponder what the heck went wrong.
But instead of guessing try to understand by getting into the decision makers head. Because often, the way that they respond has little to do with your actual idea and the context at hand but a lot to do with the mental model(s) they are operating from.
Sit down, have a good conversation and seek to understand what’s driving their decision. There are even guides for how you can do that. Doing that will give you an edge as preciously few other people bother to try to understand. But if you’re able to, chances are that the next time you will be able to navigate to a ‘Yes’.
Yesterday we spend in prototyping mode. While a super interesting project, we have been working on for some time was starting to take shape for the first early user testing, I put some of the final touches on a pilot for another upcoming project, we’re testing out.
This is always when things start to become tricky. You can have what you believe to be the best idea ever in your head, but it is only when you show it to others – and particularly those who are going to (hopefully) become your customers that you will really know, whether you’re on to something or not. It can be really frightening.
But this is where you need to remember that the only thing that matters is customer feedback. And you can’t get any, if you don’t get it out there and start to get some reactions. And you can’t change things – pivot even – unless you get brutally honest feedback. Which, in turn, you need to be able to succeed. So. Just. Get. It. Out. There.
It is fairly easy to meet founders who think they know it all. Founders who are so sure of their own success and the trajectory that they are on that they almost excude overconfidence.
But are they overconfident, or are they just pretending out of fear of losing face, credibility, mojo or something else? Probably. Because just under the surface of any founder is the fear of failure. Of making the wrong decision. Of missing the boat completely.
It is natural. And actually fear can be transformed into a strenght, if you use it as an opportunity to have a learning mindset. Studys show that one of the traits of successful founders is the ability to learn. And in order to learn, you need to start by acknowledging that you don’t know it all. So get comfortable with that – and embark on your ongoing learning process.
One of the things that many people building new products and services automatically assume is that their would-be customers are curious people always on the look-out for the next big thing. But is that really the case?
Have you ever asked your customers how they find the hidden gems out there that can help them solve all their problems? Have you ever heard them explain how they actively go looking?
We have a tendency to think that everybody is always looking for something new and shiny. In many cases it is totally not the case. Which makes it important for you to avoid the temptation of building something hoping they will come. They most likely won’t – not by themselves anyway. So make sure you have a strategy for how to get them to notice you properly.
Whenever you take on an opportunity, make sure you have understood the mandate and you have it in a way that you can follow through on the ambition, you are trying to bring to life.
Why? Because it is dead easy to be flattered, take in all the kind words and accept a role, where everybody but yourself is in control. And when that happens, you will not be leading anything. You will be a spectator. A spectator running the risk of getting blamed, when the decisions of others come back to bite the project.
Be especially aware of this is you are considering an opportunity in a corporate environment. Corporate cultures are – for better and for worse – most often well established, and the chances of it changing for the sake of your opportunity is zero. Non-existing. Unless, that is, you make sure to get a very strong and powerful mandate from the ‘go’.
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.