Startup learning from ‘P.S. I Love You’

The Danish Heart Foundation just announced that they are closing down their youth-oriented dialogue website ‘P.S. I Love You’ a mere 3 months after launching it in May.

‘P.S. I Love You’ have been surrounded by a lot of controversy focusing on working with alternative, holistic thinking partners at odds with the foundations of the basic science, the foundation normally base everything they do on.

From that angle, closing the initiative down was a sure thing waiting to happen. And to be honest I don’t think many people will miss it now that it’s gone.

But there was another thing that puzzled me and says everything about why context is important, when you judge something:

Had ‘P.S. I Love You’ been a startup idea, we would perhaps by now be applauding it;

they launch with what they deem is a MVP,

they get the feedback,

they realize it’s not going to work,

and they sunset it.

Move fast and break stuff.

Right?

Or:

Fuck it, let’s ship it!

right?

Turns out context is everything.

E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

And again – as I have mentioned before:

When you are working with something related to peoples health and their medical condition(s) normal startup rules just don’t apply in the same way.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

5 learnings from HelloFresh

Recently I made a commitment to try different products and services out in order to try and get a better understanding of what it is the best consumer-focused digital companies do that make them so successful.

My starting point was HelloFresh which just recently launched in Denmark.

Monday I got my first shipment from HelloFresh; 3 meals for the week priced at ~130 DKK per meal for 4 people. And these are my first 3 learnings from HelloFresh:

(1) It’s fresh ingredients. I know the point is banal but it needs to be made because it’s important – especially with such a brand name.

(2) HelloFresh operates with a “Zero Waste” promise, and it is easy to see why; everything is sorted for the various means in neat recyclable paper bags, and the measurements of ingredients are exactly what’s needed to cook the meal – no more, no less. When you’re done there’s nothing left – food nor packaging – and thus the promise is kept. Check.

(3) Besides being totally measured most things are clearly branded “HelloFresh” signalling that someone has gone the extra mile in execution of ensuring that things are what they are promised to be and in the quantities needed. It gives a nice touch of care and attention to detail and ensures that both brand and the brand promise is present from start to finish.

(4) With the food NOT being pre-prepped you still get to enjoy the process of cooking even if it’s super easy. It’s quite different from something you just need to heat, and I think being able to add that little extra touch and having some sort of control is super important. Convenience goes a long way but only such a long way. You’re part of the product and process, and in that way it gets under your skin and helps build preference. Pretty clever.

(5) Even though the introduction offer is 30 % of normal price, at 130DKK per meal there is more than enough tangible value in the kit in order to make it attractive. I mean, try to go to the super market and buy groceries for a 4 person meal in Denmark for 130 DKK (or even 170 DKK) with EVERYTHING (except salt, pepper and oil, but you get my point), and you will often come up short. The point: Even if the individual recipe fails or something goes wrong, the value of the offering compared to the alternatives are still there making the offer trending towards a no-brainer to at least try out.

These are just the first few thoughts. I fully realize that it sounds like a glowing endorsement, and maybe it also is. I am just positively surprised by the sheer completeness of the offering in both product, messaging, packaging and everything.

There seems to be no stones left unturned here. Which I guess is the truly inspiring part.

(Photo: Private)

The HelloFresh test

One of the basic common rules for startups is that if what you’re working on is worth doing, you’re bound to have competition (unless you’re operating in one of those rare spaces, where you have spotted something before anyone else, of course).

With so many services – especially in the consumer space – feeling more or less alike or at the very least trying to serve the same need or solve the same problem, you need to ask yourself, what the differentiator between success and failure is going to be.

There are quite a lot to choose from, but one of the ones, I increasingly believe a lot in is the end-to-end Customer Experience, i.e. everything from the smoothness of using the product and get what you need to the overall feel of the entire experience.

If you want to learn from the best – or those believed or rumored to be the best – there is only one way to go about it: To try the service out and see for yourself.

For that reason I have made a personal decision:

I am going to be trying out a different services in quite crowded consumer spaces over the coming months to get a sense of how those that get singled out for their Customer Experience and their ability to execute ruthlessly against it actually work.

I have already signed up for the first one: HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is rumored to be a cutthroat business that are very good at executing flawlessly in the crowded meal kit market.

They have just entered the Danish market, and I have signed up to give it a spin. The Danish meal kit market is super crowded with all sorts of services, and I have previously tried a few without being overly impressed.

So I am very curious to see, if my experience with HelloFresh is going to feel any different – if I can FEEL the execution. And what – if anything – I can learn from it to bring to the other things I am working on.

Because, yes, it always pays to get inspired from other industries for what you’re trying to succeed with yourself.

I will keep you posted on what I learn.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Hello launch pad!

Yesterday was a super important day for our inQvation Studio-team; it was the day where we got the final formal board approval for our first spinoff.

While it has been in the works for a while (and we have been recruiting for the team for some weeks now) there is always something special about getting that formal mail saying “GO, GO, GO!”. It is definitely one for the archives in the best possible way.

It has been a little over a year since I joined the tiny Studio team (2 people, including me) to help turn great ideas into promising startups. The journey to this point has not been straight forward at all, and we have tried numerous approaches and learned a lot.

But we made it to the launchpad. And for inQvation Studio that’s what matters; we made it from a blank sheet of paper to actual startup.

In order to get there we have, as I mentioned, been forced to try a lot of different approaches to figure out how to do it, as we went along. You can obviously take a lot of inspiration from how others have approached it, but there is a big difference between reading, thinking – and doing. And I do think that you have to go through the steps yourself to really get it under your skin.

Did everything work? No. Was everything – in hindsight – the right things to do? No. But we kept pushing, kept learning. And we moved forward. One step at a time.

I am a big fan of rocketry and the history of NASA, and one of the most inspiring stories ever to me is the story about the race to the Moon back in the 60’s.

What’s important is that it is not only a story about rockets and astronauts. It is a story about vision, courage, the will to go the extra mile and figure things out as you go along. About bold ideas and early test rockets exploding at the pad setting the big project back. About resilience in the face of adversity. About overcoming doubt. About picking yourself up time and time again. And – most importantly – every little success that made the giant leap possible.

We’ve now arrived at the launch pad. Now the real work begins. There is a lot that needs to happen and go well, before we can light up the candle and head for the Moon. And the journey to the Moon is long and fraught with danger. Stuff can go horribly wrong.

But MAN! The view upwards towards the clear skies above and beyond the launch pad is just beautiful!

Onwards and upwards!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Test your candidates

I am not only in the process of recruiting a Head of Product for our new MedTech X. I am also trying to find a new experienced UX/Designer for our inQvation Studio team.

The approach around recruiting is the same: Ditch the traditional job ad and application process and instead allow interested candidates to book an informal online interview so hear more and assess mutual interest.

The response has been pretty overwhelming with almost 20 interviews lined up so far.

It takes a lot of time, and you can debate whether it’s after all the right approach for a more junior role. But at least it gets the conversation going and get us in touch with some interesting candidates.

One of the things I have decided to do because of the interest is to develop a test for the candidates; a specific reallife test to assess how they think and what they produce in a ‘live situation’.

The candidates will be given a test that we ourselves have struggled with, i.e. solve it well and show us you have got what it takes to really make a difference in the team – which it is essentially all about.

The test both has a ‘thinking’ part and a ‘doing’ part. Both are super important to showcase for a candidate because it is what makes the complete team member.

We are not looking for someone to just do and not think. And we’re not looking for a thinker, who’s not a do’er.

We need and value the combo.

Candidates will be given a few days to complete and return the case, and it will be key to us deciding who to call back for a more in-depth interview.

After that? We shouldn’t be too far from a decision, which is all the more easier to make when you have a good, solid and ‘real’ test to look at.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Say Hi! to FIXDIT

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)

(Photo: Screenshot)

Stay nimble when you need to

One of the easiest things is to get carried away by your great idea. For many aspiring entrepreneurs it just happens straight out of the gate. But even for those who have learned and accepted that getting to product/market-fit is an experimental process, it can be tricky to stay the course and be true to your process.

Staying nimble when you need to is a virtue. With an emphasis on ‘when you need to’. Because of course there comes a time – hopefully – where it makes a ton of sense to just do whatever it takes to hit it out of the park. Chances are though that that won’t be the first thing you need to do. And that doing it anyway may send you seriously off course – sometimes without the ability to recover.

A good way of staying the course could be to have a simple process drawn down. David J. Bland has an excellent one in a video here, where he connects Pirate Metrics for growth with experimentation and how to allocate time and budget. That is exactly what you need to make sure that you stay focused on the right things at the right points of time and that you stay the course and stay nimble, when you need to.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Remember the MVP?

Countless times when people talk about doing an MVP, what they are really deep down looking to do is something that resembles the finished product. Or at the very least should be used as a quite feature heavy and robust stepping stone towards the finished product.

It is a misconception though. MVPs in its original definition are meant to be thrown away. They are meant to be product-imitations showcasing a critical hypothesis for your idea to potential customers in order to get hard data on what happens, when you throw it out there and – hopefully – the right people start taking notice and interact with it.

Looked at through that lens the MVP is just one way of validating your business idea and underlying hypothesis. In the test-library, I use, there are 59 other methods just like it. It is just a way of testing whether you can validate your idea and your critical assumptions. Nothing more.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)