Incipire has always been about startups. In fact the name of the company is the Latin word meaning to start. The idea to create a company focused on helping startups launch came from my experience with the Lean Startup Circle, a group that I stumbled upon purely through happenstance. I’d been learning about Lean Software Development through training from David Anderson (author of Kanban) and was searching for a discussion group around Lean Software Development when the google search turned up LSC. But finding the group, I found that their discussions around evidence based startups and treating the startup process as a series of experiments to discover your target market and create a solution that addresses their needs made perfect sense to me.
The Lean Startup model turns the typical concept of a startup on its ear. In the past startups were dependent on a business plan that were basically full of assumptions about the potential market, the reception to the product being developed, and the value that the startup could capture. You create a business plan, seek funding, and if successful use that funding to bring your startup to market in a way that supports your projections.
In the Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank provides the example of WebVan, a dot-com darling whose goal was to revolutionize grocery shopping. Instead of going to the store, walking through aisles and waiting in line to pay for your groceries, shoppers could browse the site on the Internet and have their groceries delivered to them. Sounds like a great idea right? In fact there are companies (like Peapod) in existence today that follow that exact model. The problem with WebVan is that they vastly over-estimated their market and spent far too much anticipating a high demand. When actual demand didn’t meet their expectations, there was no way to adjust and WebVan filed for bankruptcy shortly after its IPO.
The problem with the traditional startup model is that it takes away the startup’s biggest advantage, being small and thus agile and makes it compete on its weakest point, money. A good investment round brings a startup maybe $25 Million dollars. Meanwhile for the companies whose market the the startup is trying to disrupt, that number might be a rounding error in a quarterly budget. The Lean Startup model focuses on minimizing waste (i.e. expenditure of time and money), validating assumptions, adjusting direction (or pivoting) to get back on target with what evidence says is accurate. In other words the Lean Startup Method emphasizes the strengths of a startup while minimizing the impact of its weaknesses.
In the ensuing years since I was first exposed to the concept, I’ve worked with a of companies launching new ventures either as new businesses or new products within an existing business to create what is called in Lean Startup terms a Minimum Viable Product. This could be anything from a simple prototype of an application that can be demonstrated to potential investors to a low-tech version of a service that would ideally be automated in the long run but can be sold as a manual service to clients. Getting an MVP launched allows you to get quick feedback on your market and its needs.
With that in mind, I’m taking what we’ve learned over these years and using that experience to launch a product which is essentially a tool that provides guidance to help startups launch their product in 13 weeks. I call this product, the Incipire Method: 13 Weeks to Launch. And what better way to demonstrate the method than to launch it over the next 13 weeks. Day one started Monday, today is day two. Over the next 13 weeks, I will document the creation of a new offering on the Incipire blog, as well as within a book dedicated to explaining the method. The software will be created as an open source product, but also sold as hosted, subscription-based web SaaS offering with a matching mobile application.
Why would I share my “secret sauce” with you. I believe that it will be genuinely useful for technical entrepreneurs who want to start a business but are overwhelmed by all that is required to learn to do so successfully. Basically, you can run as lean as you want if you’re willing to do it all yourself. I’ll show you how it’s possible to do so. I believe that Incipire offers enough value to the entrepreneur who wants our assistance in executing the method that we will be able to acquire customers who want to do so.
In essence, we are going to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Incipire Method by using the Incipire Method over the next 90 days. See you on May 22nd!