The daunting 1st prototype

The last week or so I have been busy building the first simple prototype of our upcoming app – a pre-MVP – for the MedTech startup, we’re working on getting off the ground. We will be getting it out there to get early feedback just after Christmas.

It is a daunting process.

Not only is it daunting to try to find the different pieces that when stitched together could form a somewhat crude but credible first go at what we will initially be trying to bring to market to create value for patients.

No, the most daunting part is that youre airing your idea(s) and inviting feedback from real potential users. And doing so full knowing that they can throw whatever they want in the form of feedback and criticism against you.

The prospects of getting feedback from people – or worse yet; hearing nothing at all because no-one will try it out – is so excruciating it can be a real challenge to push that ‘Publish’ button and get it out there.

But there is just no way around it;

If you never launch anything – not even a very crude, embarrasing prototype – you will by definition have failed completely.

So, reversely, by just getting something out there for people to provide feedback on is infinitely better and an infinitely greater step towards any kind of potential future success.

So just do it.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

R.I.P. Quibi

A mere 6 months after launch and after burning through a good portion of the 1,75B USD it had raised from investors, the short form streaming platform Quibi is closing it’s doors.

Why? Because even if they were almost too big to fail they still managed to hit the one big pole, other entrepreneurs work their butts of to avoid ever getting into an infight with:

No market need.

Well done.

Quibi founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman even kind of admit so in their open farewell letter on Medium:

Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did.

An open letter from Quibi. to the employees…

Exactly, you were pretty alone in thinking this would be a spectacular hit.

Ouch.

Quibi was an exercise in hybris. It was an exercise in the power of the idea alone; that if you build it, they will come.

Again from the open letter:

Although the circumstances were not right for Quibi to succeed as a standalone company, our team achieved much of what we set out to accomplish, and we are tremendously proud of the award-winning and innovative work that we have produced, both in terms of original content and the underlying technology platform. 

An open letter from Quibi. to the employees…

Customers never really came. And those that did ran away as soon as they were asked to pay for it.

It is easy to poke fun of a grand idea flawfully executed. But you could also feel enraged;

That while aspiring entrepreneurs with truly great ideas looking to solve real problems, investors throw money at something that is…well, you get it.

This is what happens when people who don’t “get it” think they can become successful entrepreneurs if they just throw enough money at it.

This is what happens when the smartest people in the room decide to show the world just how smart they really are.

As such Quibi should be a lesson to all with no respect for the grind of trying to build on an idea and achieve product-market fit while at the same time be conscious about ressources spend.

It won’t be. It will happen again. And again.

Because Quibi will be forgotten soon.

That’s how ‘big’ an idea it was.

(Photo: Screenshot)

Show your ugliness

When you try to do something completely new, the only way you will know whether customers like it or reject it is if you show it to them.

This is precisely the argument for why you should be running experiments again and again, as you try to move forward from idea to a product or a service; you need to take stock of your customers to see, if you are essentially on the same page as they are. It not, redo, retool, relaunch or just stop.

Show your ugliness. Give your idea a spin. A little time and money invested in the right experiments go a long way into guiding the big product decisions that are truly costly.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Hypothetical strategy

The most common problems with strategy is that (a) it can be extremely poorly based on actual insight and data about market and customers and (b) it tends to become antique the moment, you have dotted the last i and crossed the last t in the grand plan.

When I recently tought a group of students at Aarhus Erhvervsakademi and Dansk Markedsføring about digital strategy and business development one of my main messages was that strategy today is not a plan. It is a set of hypothesis about market, customers and bets, we can make that we set ourselves goals towards trying to achieve. And remain flexible towards revisiting when needed. Not in terms of overall vision and goals but on the road towards that goal.

Strategy today is a fluent thing and with all the unknowns out there and the constant changing landscape, you need to be prepared to have your core hypothesis invalidated at any point in time. You need to be able to adapt, and you need to do so by defining new hypothesis that you can design your evolving strategy and market approach around. Everything else is – at best – wishful thinking.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

No idea is that dumb*

Some ideas intuitively makes sense. Other ideas seem just about the most stupid thing, you have ever heard of. Yet, while the former can go on and become a viable idea, the dumb idea more often than not end up making a killing.

Andrew Chen calls it “The Dumb Idea Paradox”. I would just suffice to say it is a pointed reminder of one of the core guiding principles I have; you just can’t sit at your desk and expect to figure out the next big thing. You need to go out there, be curious and – as part of that process – challenge your own assumptions.

For some people betting on dumb ideas is the thing that they do. Maybe they just do it once, but it will be all that matters, once the idea takes off. For the rest of us, we need to tell ourselves that “no idea is that dumb” again and again while giving it enough benefit of the doubt to at least experiment and play with. Because, more often than not, no idea really is that dumb.

*: Of course there are really dumb ideas out there, and most of us intuitively know what they are. So there are exceptions to the rule, but expect the rule to be the rule.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Show it, don’t tell it

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.

(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)

Always look under the hood

The more you think you know about something, the more you should push yourself to look under the hood.

There is always something there that annoys your view of the problem. Something that doesn’t fit. But that something adds valuable perspective to what you’re working on, and more often than not it can be the true differentiator for your success.

I have always found that even though I have worked within a particular sector a number of times before and think I am pretty well covered, there is always valuable insight under the hood as soon as I curiously and unbiased start looking. My bet is that you will experience the same.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)